Epstein Clarifies Phone Call to Arrieta, Perhaps Throws a Little Shade at Boras
Jon Heyman made some ripples the day after Yu Darvish signed, reporting that the Cubs had made a courtesy call to Jake Arrieta during which they essentially offered him the Darvish deal. They knew Arrieta would turn them down, which he did (sort of), so it was more about letting him know that they were thinking of him and that they still valued him.
“This wasn’t Arrieta flat-out rejecting the six-year, $126 million offer the Cubs made to Darvish, as some misinterpreted Jon Heyman’s initial report for FanRag Sports,” Patrick Mooney wrote for The Athletic (subscription required). “This was more about keeping Arrieta in the loop and mentioning a possible contingency plan in case the Darvish talks somehow broke down. Look at the timing — the weekend before pitchers and catchers report to Arizona — and how an organization known for wining and dining top free agents delivered that message.”
Of course, it’s something of a misnomer to say the Cubs talked to Arrieta at all, since Scott Boras maintains very strict control of his clients’ negotiations. So the call may have been more of a goodwill gesture to help Boras regain some of the value that may have been lost by the Cubs’ perceived lack of interest in their former ace.
Not that they saw something wrong with Arrieta, per se, it’s just that they had prioritized Darvish and clearly concentrated their efforts on him. So, too, did everyone else. Arrieta’s market appeared to have vanished, temporarily anyway, and the Cubs were at least partially responsible.
All told, the call was more about loyalty and appreciation than any kind of hope that Arrieta would come back. You probably already knew that, but it’s good to hear Epstein explain it.
“Yeah, I didn’t talk to Jake, I talked to Scott Boras,” Epstein told 670 The Score’s Mully and Hanley. “Scott really prefers that all dialogue go through him in the offseason with his players when it comes to contract. Look, I’m not going to get into details of the conversation, that was between me and Scott and Jake.
“But it was to serve a number of purposes: One, to show Jake a lot of respect; two, to kind of re-confirm our sense of where he was and what he was looking for and some of the complications involved in bringing him back into a Cubs uniform; and then also just to give him a better sense of…give him more information so that it might help him at some point in the marketplace.”
That sounds like a really cool gesture and one that I have no doubt was conducted in all sincerity, but I thought I detected a touch of sarcasm in Epstein’s final words on the subject.
“Not that he needs much help, because he’s a great, great pitcher and has Scott Boras as his agent, so I’m sure things will go well,” Epstein remarked. “But yeah, I felt like rather than blindsiding him, that was the appropriate thing to do to accomplish those three things.”
Did you catch it? That little bit about having Scott Boras as an agent seemed like a thinly veiled dig at the game’s most notorious player rep. Or maybe it was a simple statement of fact and not something that should be interpreted as even a tacit indictment of Boras’s personality or practices. After all, future dealings with him are inevitable.
We’ll probably get a little more on this once Arrieta actually signs somewhere else, but this little bit should at least put to bed any questions about the nature and content of the phone call. Or maybe we still don’t know the truth and we’ll all be shocked when Arrieta comes strolling into camp like Dexter Fowler two years ago.