Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood deals while free agent Jake Arrieta waits

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

While many Cubs fans are still pining for a reunion with free agent Jake Arrieta, new starter Tyler Chatwood is going about his business and looking sharp.

Making his second start this spring, Chatwood threw two hitless innings Saturday in the Cubs' 7-4 win over the Reds at Sloan Park.

"I threw three curves and four changeups, obviously not as much as I'd like to," Chatwood said. "The shape of my curveball was good today. It was a little below the zone, but the shape and spin I think are coming around, so I'm excited about that."

Chatwood had a 4.69 ERA and a National League-high 15 losses last year with the Rockies. But he agreed to a three-year, $38 million deal early in the offseason before the free-agent freeze.

The Cubs believe pitching at sea level will make a difference for Chatwood, who has a 5.25 ERA in 68 career games at Coors Field, including a 6.01 mark there last season. His curveball wasn't too effective in the Mile High City, but since 2016, Chatwood's 2.57 road ERA is tied for second-best among NL pitchers.

If the Cubs sign Arrieta to a one-year deal, which seems unlikely, it probably would mean Chatwood would head to the bullpen to be a swing man like Mike Montgomery.

Meanwhile, Arrieta sits and waits for a team to give him what he feels is his market value. The Nationals and Phillies are rumored to be possible landing spots for Arrieta, but the Phillies are in a rebuild and the Nats are trying to stay under the luxury tax.

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija is surprised his former Cubs teammate is still out there.

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"To me, there's always an asterisk (involved), because you don't know who is slowing it down," he said. "Is it the agent (Scott Boras)? Is it the owners?

"I would assume plenty of teams would like a guy like Jake in their starting rotation. There definitely are a lot of teams that need a guy like Jake in their starting rotation. I'm surprised. It's just a wild year."

Samardzija doesn't blame owners for staying under the tax and paying high penalties.

"With this whole luxury tax thing now, it's not easy and really a big threat to these owners," he said. "I don't care how much money you have, no one wants to pay 50 percent (tax) on a dollar. It's definitely a factor. We'll see how teams get around it."

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