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MLB free agency: The latest on Jake Arrieta

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Where will the former NL Cy Young play in 2018?

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

With spring training almost in full swing, there are still some players around the majors who have not found a place to call home for the 2018 season.

Arguably, the biggest one remaining is Jake Arrieta, the former ace and 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Cubs.

However, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, said that his client should command more than what Yu Darvish signed for when he inked a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs. In addition, Heyman says there are seven clubs the 31-year-old right-hander may possibly land with: Nationals, Brewers, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Orioles and Twins.

As far as what Boras said, Boras says that Arrieta should not be compared to Darvish based on analytics and instead should be compared to David Price, Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer because those are pitchers who have won awards and excelled in the postseason.

Darvish, who is a few months younger than Arrieta, has better analytical stats than Arrieta, especially after last year when Arrieta went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts. However, Arrieta is three seasons removed from his Cy Young season in which he put together a 22-6 campaign with a 1.77 ERA and is two years removed from an All-Star year in which he also helped the Cubs win the World Series. In parts of five years with Chicago, Arrieta has gone 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and a 19.9 WAR in 128 starts plus has a postseason ERA of 3.08, which is better than Darvish’s 5.81 ERA.

“Analytical evaluation is incomplete,” Boras said. “It needs to include prestige, the human element, a leadership dynamic. It also needs to include postseason performance. Analytics are void of that.”

Boras went on to pretty much say that Arrieta is clearly the better option than Darvish when it comes to the debate on who is better. “They’re different species,” Boras said in the report.

As far as the possible landing spots, Heyman gives the Nationals 2-1 odds to sign Arrieta. After all, Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is said “to like the idea” of having Arrieta on his club, which is in win-now mode more than ever. In addition, most of the players on the team are Boras’ clients, so it would make sense if the two parties could work out a deal. The only issues, though, are that they would more than likely go over the luxury tax threshold to sign Arrieta and they also have to think about trying to re-sign star Bryce Harper.

The Brewers are next at 4-1, as they have shown a willingness this offseason to go after players (i.e. Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich). However, they need an ace because they are going to be without Jimmy Nelson to begin the season and did not land Darvish, who they also offered a contract.

The Phillies follow Milwaukee at 5-1 because they have had “dialogue” recently and Heyman says they want to bring aboard a starter to help their young rotation. In addition, Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail loves Arrieta from their time with the Orioles (MacPhail served in the same role with the Orioles between 2007-11, while Arrieta pitched for the O’s between 2010-13). The only problem is that the Phillies want a short-term deal while Arrieta is looking for a long-term deal plus a hefty pay increase after making $15.6 million last year.

The Cardinals are next at 12-1, followed by the Dodgers at 15-1, the Orioles at 20-1 and the Twins at 40-1. Heyman also includes the field, which is at 8-1 odds.

The Cardinals had interest early in the offseason in Arrieta, but Heyman says there is “nothing lately.” The Dodgers are mentioned because they offered Darvish close to $100 million for six years, but they have a history of not signing anyone to long-term deals and have been focused on staying under the luxury tax threshold as well.

The Orioles would be interesting because they are the team that drafted and developed Arrieta before trading him to the Cubs. Heyman says there are people in the organization still like Arrieta and have “considered” going after him. However, the Orioles are not big spenders, especially this year after only signing Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman for a combined $17 million.

The Twins are a long shot because they just acquired Jake Odorizzi from the Rays. However, they did offer Darvish over $100 million as well, and Heyman says there may be room in the budget for them to get Arrieta.