CHICAGO — Jake Arrieta is returning to the Chicago Cubs, agreeing to a one-year, $6 million contract.
Arrieta can earn $1 million in performance bonuses, according to a person familiar with the situation who confirmed the deal on condition of anonymity because it is pending a physical.
The 34-year-old Arrieta won the NL Cy Young Award with Chicago in 2015 and helped the Cubs win the 2016 World Series for their first championship since 1908. He went 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA in 128 starts over five years in his first stint with the team.
While the reunion is a feel-good story for the reigning NL Central champions after a tough winter, Arrieta hasn’t experienced the same level of success since he left Chicago after the 2017 season.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander signed a $75 million, three-year contract with Philadelphia in free agency and went 22-23 with a 4.36 ERA in 64 starts with the Phillies. He had a 4-4 record and a 5.08 ERA in nine starts last year during the pandemic-shortened season.
Arrieta rejoins a team with a new-look rotation after the Cubs traded Yu Darvish to San Diego in December and let Jon Lester depart for Washington in free agency. Arrieta also is reuniting with David Ross, who caught the second of Arrieta’s two no-hitters and guided Chicago into the playoffs last year in his first season as a big league manager.
The Cubs had been looking for pitching depth, concerned about how many starters they might need going from last year’s abbreviated season to a more regular schedule in 2021. Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies lead the rotation, with Alec Mills, Trevor Williams, Adbert Alzolay and Arrieta also in the mix.
Arrieta was first acquired by Chicago in a July 2013 trade with Baltimore, a key move in the franchise’s rise from the bottom of the NL Central to one of the majors’ best teams.
Arrieta, a fifth-round pick by the Orioles in the 2007 amateur draft, was a dominant force in 2015, going 22-6 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA in 33 starts. He followed his Cy Young campaign with 18 wins and a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts in 2016.
Arrieta also performed well in the playoffs during his first stint with Chicago. He tossed a five-hitter in the Cubs’ 4-0 win at Pittsburgh in the 2015 NL wild-card game. He won each of his two World Series starts at Cleveland in 2016, compiling a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.