Washington Nationals Rumors: Jake Arrieta would make them NL favorites

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

If the Washington Nationals rumors come true, they can become National League favorites by signing Jake Arrieta.

Dominoes are beginning to fall in MLB. Yu Darvish will pitch next season with the Chicago Cubs thus eliminating the possibility of Jake Arrieta returning. Fans are now left wondering where Arrieta will sign. According to Washington Nationals rumors, they are a team heavily interested in Arrieta.

Last year’s National League East winners, the Nationals are still the division’s team to beat. If they can add Arrieta, that status can extend beyond the NL East. At the moment, the Nationals look to have an accessible path to the postseason. Once they get there, trouble may begin.

Why the Washington Nationals need Jake Arrieta

The Washington Nationals do not have the same complete rotation that the Chicago Cubs have. Presently, the Cubs will begin the year with Tyler Chatwood as the fifth starter. As far as fifth starters go, Chatwood might be one of the best in baseball.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Nationals are likely to name A.J. Cole their number five guy. Cole is out of minor league options and the guy with the most success as a starter last season currently available for the job. Prospect Erick Fedde is also a consideration as is veteran Edwin Jackson. The job is Cole’s to lose, which he very well may if the Nationals spend what they need to for Arrieta’s services.

Two months ago, I sold the idea of the Nationals signing Arrieta. About to begin his age 32 campaign, Arrieta’s best years are likely in the past. Looking at his next contract, you may never know it. The man wants to get paid this winter. Like so many other free agents, his price tag is relative to past performance.

Arrieta does give the Nationals something they currently don’t have: security. Max Scherzer battled through some injuries last year. Stephen Strasburg also tends to take an annual trip to the disabled list. If Gio Gonzalez is not the same pitcher he was in 2017 and Tanner Roark is, the Nationals are in some serious trouble. They’re in a lot less trouble with Arrieta on their side.

How much should they spend?

More from Call to the Pen

The only way Jake Arrieta pitches for the Washington Nationals in 2018 is if he’s able to accept being the third highest paid pitcher on the team. The Nationals should not give him more than they’re dishing out to Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg. Otherwise, they run the risk of having three lousy pitcher contracts within the next few seasons.

Since Arrieta’s asking price will inevitably drop, I do see a way where the Nationals can make him a more manageable piece on the payroll. Deferred money is one solution. Based on experience, it’s a plausible one.

Knowing they can open 2018 with a rotation that includes everyone who has won a National League Cy Young since 2015 gives the Nationals a considerable advantage over the rest of the league. Even with the holes they have, the Nationals would become favorites.

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We saw the Chicago Cubs weakened many times last year. The Washington Nationals have yet to take that same beating. In fact, they overcame many obstacles. Add Arrieta into the mix, and it’s tough to imagine anyone able to go mano-e-mano with them.