The Cubs are bringing Jake Arrieta back for the 2021 season, signing the right-hander to a one year, $6 million deal. Arrieta, who will turn 35 next month, was originally acquired by the Cubs in July of 2013, coming over from the Orioles, along with Pedro Strop, in a trade for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. After 7 starts for Iowa, Arrieta joined the rebuilding Cubs and showed vast improvement over the pitcher he was with the Orioles. He turned into an ace for the Cubs in 2015, winning the NL Cy Young Award, and was a key contributor to their World Series championship in 2016. He threw two no-hitters for the team, one in 2015 against the Dodgers and the second in 2016 against the Reds. But, after leaving following the 2017 season for the Phillies, he has not been the same pitcher, suffering injuries each of the past 3 years.
Hopefully Cub fans have realistic expectations for Arrieta in 2021. If they expect Arrieta to be a leader in the team’s attempts to repeat as division champions, they are likely to be disappointed and that disappointment may tarnish their memories of Arrieta and what he accomplished from 2014-2017. If they see this as the nostalgia-based move it likely is, and accept the neither Arrieta nor the team will see the same success that they’ve become accustomed to, then it could be a nice distraction to take away from what looks to be a rebuilding (or reloading, at best) year.