Could the Astros consider Jake Arrieta?
On Thursday, Robert Murray reported that former Cy Young pitcher Jake Arrieta would be throwing a bullpen for interested teams on Friday afternoon in Austin, Tex. The former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher hasn’t received many reports on his future status in MLB, as the market has been slow for many players.
The Houston Astros could consider looking into Arrieta because the depth in the rotation could be another issue in 2021. As the Astros rotation has looked better than its current state in recent years, the ’20 season proved the Astros have a strong core for the future, but an aging Zack Greinke and an expiring Lance McCullers Jr. also stand at the front an end of the rotation. While they will be without Justin Verlander, the Astros should consider the future of their rotation along with adding veteran depth to a core of three youngsters.
Arrieta is far from his 2015 Cy Young stage in his career, and while struggling in Philadelphia, he could have a short resurgence in Houston. The right-hander landed in Philly in 2018 after three strong seasons with the Chicago Cubs. The drop from an elite pitcher happened quickly for Arrieta, as his ERA in Philly climbed to 4.36, his strikeout rate was stagnant like it has been his whole career. Arrieta gets outs by contact and has had control issues in the past. There are a list of issues circling the status for the former All-Star, but pitchers seem to find their niche in Houston, examples being Verlander and Charlie Morton. Arrieta could possibly have the same turnaround, but he is not in the same ballpark of skill as Verlander and Morton.
The 34-year-old has a few years left in his right arm, and while not having a strong recent resume, he won’t cost as much as other starting pitchers on the market. The Astros current situation is unknown as their core five are Greinke, Framber Valdez, McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier. There were issues falling into the hands of injury amongst the rotation in 2020, and while pitchers like Brandon Bielak had to make short stints on the mound, the Astros should look to veterancy for depth. Austin Pruitt is another name to watch, but his full return is unknown, and a bullpen stint could be in his future.
The Astros are not spending big for the rest of the offseason, and while the needs of a closer and a centerfielder need to be met, filling the rotational depth could be as easy as signing Arrieta to a one-year deal with a low salary or even a minor-league deal. There are other options out there such as Chris Archer, but as a team looking to contend for the AL pennant, the Astros would benefit themselves by adding experience where needed.