Arrieta, of course, resurrected his career on the Cubs' watch and won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015. Even after his decline from those Cy heights, Arrieta pitched to an impressive 129 ERA+ over the last two seasons while making 61 starts over that same span. He's older than Darvish, but it won't be surprising if he winds up with a very similar payday this winter.
Speaking of which, here's a compelling nugget from FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, who wrote on the post-Darvish outlook for Arrieta ...
The Chicago Cubs were down the road with Yu Darvish, but before they completed a deal, Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein, respectfully, put in one last call to the Cubs' star free agent Jake Arrieta for one last, long-shot chance to see if — if need be — they could extend Arrieta's career with a deal believed to be similar to the one offered to Darvish should Darvish turn them down.
First, Heyman's piece includes a rundown of which teams might be most likely to land Arrieta now that a Cubs reunion is off the table.
Second, bear in mind that Arrieta in essence had very little time to say yes or no to the Cubs' offer, and as Heyman notes the lack of time to give proper weight to such a decision may have played a role in his turning them down. Beyond that, all kinds of things go into a player's free agent decisions. Arrieta may be ready for a change of scenery, he may believe he can still do better on the market, or he may be looking to play closer to his Texas home. Whatever his reasons, they're necessarily valid -- the term "free agent" includes the word "free," after all. Arrieta's racked up the necessary service time, and he's now free to take whatever offer he chooses.
The other takeaway is that the Cubs wanted him back. If they'd signed Darvish to such a deal without pursuing Arrieta in earnest, then it would've been telling. In essence, the team that knew the most about Arrieta would've chosen to go another direction without giving Arrieta a serious sniff. Things as they are, though, they did try to bring him back at something close to Darvish's going rates, and that speaks well of their estimations of him going forward.