Minnesota Twins: 5 Free Agent Pitchers Part 2
By Nate Palmer
It is in many ways hard to remember the struggling starter Arrieta was before he was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Chicago Cubs. There seemed to be an immediate turn around in his pitching performance once he put on a Cubs uniform. And in 2015 Arrieta turned in a Cy Young award-winning season with a 22-6 record and a1.77 ERA.
Arrieta’s strong World Series performance in 2016 when he pitched 11.1 innings and struck out 15 batters while only allowing 3 runs and another solid season in 2017 has Arrieta in line to get paid well. MLB Trade Rumors projects Arrieta at 4 years $100 million. That is $25 million a year for a pitcher that was almost given up on.
Entering his age 32 season, even though Arrieta has had good results the past several seasons, there are still reasons for hesitation about paying for his future performances. For starters, Arrieta’s velocity has declined since his Cy Young winning 2015 season.
While pitchers can still succeed as their velocity declines, one thing that seems true about Arrieta is his pitching success goes as his ability to miss bats go. As his Swinging Strike percentage and Strikeout per nine go up, his ERA goes down. In 2015 Arrieta had an 11% swing strike rate and a 1.77 ERA. In 2017 his swinging strike rate dropped to 9% and his a 3.53 ERA.
While Arrietta’s spin rate was given the credit for his rise to being an ace pitcher, there also seems to be a floor to how low his velocity can get before Hitters figure him out. It seems we may be watching that happen before our eyes, calling into question on whether Arrietta may be worth a $25 million a year deal.