A couple weeks back a comment was posted to determine who a team would rather have, Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish? Fast forward to today and both are still unsigned. As many other top free agents such as Eric Hosmer, JD Martinez, and Lorenzo Cain continue be unemployed at the moment, there will be a time when all of these players will be signed. When it comes to these two pitchers, both have garnered interest from various teams. Most recently the Brewers have expressed interest in Darvish. Many teams have also shown interest in Jake Arrieta. When it comes down to it, who would a team rather have going forward?
This chart shows the basic comparisons between the two pitchers over the course of each of their past 3 full seasons. Arrieta has the better ERA by a wide margin but looking at FIP they are quite similar. Arrieta over-performed by about half a run where as Darvish looked to be the pitcher he was. Darvish meanwhile may have the better strikeout numbers and overall the better pitching arsenal. Arrieta has had the luxury of having the best defense in baseball behind him whereas Darvish did not. The following charts show both of these pitchers’ trends.
We know about Arrieta’s struggles at a member of the Orioles, but looking at the past couple of years, Arrieta continues to be more volatile and that of Darvish. Both are getting worse, but Arrieta we don’t know what to expect where as Darvish has been more gradual.
When looking at Fangraph’s crowd sourcing data, Darvish was projected 5 years $130.7 million and Arrieta was projected 5 years $102.5 million. Being that it is after the New Year, generally these values will start to go down. We know the stories with both of these pitchers. Arrieta was unreal for about a year and a half and then fell back to Earth, and Darvish has been injured but continues to flash elite stuff when pitching. There are risks to both pitchers. Arrieta could become just a slightly below average pitcher, and Darvish could end up being the Darvish who pitched in game 7 of the World Series. Final impressions leave a mark. Arrieta’s previous dominance looks like it could have came at the hands of luck whereas Darvish is who he is. He continues to show better swing and miss stuff and is overall a better pitcher than Arrieta. For both pitchers it comes down to if the price is right.