Jake Arrieta Tops Early 2018 Free Agent Power Rankings

Opening Day is right around the corner, so you know what that means: Time to assess next season’s free-agent class. Okay, yeah, that’s probably not the way this is really supposed to work. But the folks at MLB Trade Rumors care little for chronological propriety and neither do I.

So it is that I chose to take a look at their way-too-early power rankings of free-agents-to-be, a list that features Yu Darvish, Johnny Cueto, Masahiro Tanaka, and that one former Brewers catcher who didn’t want to play for the Indians. And there at the top of the heap is none other than Jake Arrieta.

You might wonder how a guy who’ll be in his age-32 season in 2018 could be ranked ahead of so many big names, a valid concern. Then you realize that Darvish (8/16/86) and Cueto (2/15/86) are basically the same age as Arrieta (3/6/86). And though he’s a little younger, Tanaka (11/1/88) has dealt with those pesky elbow issues.

MLBTR may as well have pulled these names out of a hat to determine their order, which they actually actually acknowledge in the post. Even so, the fact remains that Arrieta stands to be one of the most coveted pitchers in what is sure to be a top-heavy crop of arms. A lot can change between now and the offseason, but I think it’s safe to say that Arrieta will remain in the mix for a pretty decent contract.

All of that is to say that it’s not looking good for the Cubs’ chances to re-sign their quasi-ace at a discount. You already knew that, though, didn’t you? Because I already broke the stick I’d been using to beat that dead horse, I’ll leave off until such time as it once more becomes worthwhile to resume. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t address a stopgap solution that’s been floating around.

[Clap between words] The. Cubs. Should. Not. Extend. John. Lackey.

Maybe it’s just the fertile loam of Spring Training that allowed such a seed to germinate, though I’m hoping the scorching Mesa sun will burn it from the face of the earth in short order. After all, we’re talking about the same pitcher who was being scapegoated for what was then a dire situation following the Cubs’ Game 4 World Series loss.

When it comes to losses, that’s what I’m at to understand how this makes any sense. The rotation is definitely a pressing issue beyond this season, to be sure, but there are multiple ways to address it that don’t involve extending your number four (at best) starter for at least his age-39 season. Ah, enough of this, no need to further sully myself with these trifles.

So let’s just get back to baseball and hope Arrieta has a stellar season that leads the Cubs to another World Series, after which some other team throws $200 million at him. Win-win.

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