Texas Rangers rumors: Jake Arrieta is an MLB free agent and a Texas native, and the combination has a plurality of MLB insiders responding to Jerry Crasnick’s poll pegging Texas as the most likely landing spot for the righthander.
10 of the 40 respondents told Crasnick that Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, is most likely to end up with the Rangers, given Arrieta’s roots and the Rangers’ dire need for starting pitching. The Cubs and the Phillies were the next most common response, though those two teams combined only got as many votes as Texas did.
I questioned whether Arrieta would even get a qualifying offer earlier this year, when he was sporting a 4.67 ERA at the end of June, but he had a solid second half of the year, and is considered the #2 free agent pitcher in this close (non-Ohtani division), behind Yu Darvish. Arrieta is an odd case, having not really broken out until his late-20s, and his Cy Young season in 2015 (when he put up a 1.77 ERA in 229 IP) is a clear outlier.
Nevertheless, despite his age, he doesn’t have a lot of miles on his arm. Jon Heyman’s prediction column had Arrieta getting five years at $25-28 million per year, which I think is more than what the Rangers would be willing to go. Four years and closer to $20 million, though, and I think the Rangers would have interest.
The other place where the Rangers showed up in Crasnick’s column is on Shohei Ohtani. The Yankees and the Dodgers were the top choice among those Crasnick polled, with 7.5 votes apiece, but the Rangers were third, with 5 votes, and the Mariners were the only other team to get more than one vote. Ohtani is such a black box, and his situation is so unique, predicting what he will do seems next to impossible, but Crasnick quotes an evaluator as saying the Rangers are “ahead of the curve on Ohtani,” due to their extensive presence in Asia.