Jake Arrieta was nearly ready to walk away from baseball when the Chicago Cubs came calling. After four rocky seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Arrieta was dealt to the Cubs in 2013. The move couldn’t have worked out any better for Arrieta, who became a Cy Young winner, All-Star and a World Series champion.
On Monday, Arrieta left Chicago in free agency after five seasons to sign a multi-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The eight-year veteran penned a heartfelt letter by hand to thank the Cubs and their fans before leaving.
“In the midst of what felt like never-ending adversity and failure, I was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 2nd, 2013,” Arrieta wrote. “This day was the beginning of a four and a half year stretch that would forever change our lives. On the verge of walking away from the game I love dearly, (Cubs president of baseball operations) Theo (Epstein) called, and the transformation began. I looked myself in the mirror, as well as my two year old son and pregnant wife knowing in my heart that everything was about to change.”
Arrieta went 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 69 games with the Orioles from 2010 to 2013.He was shipped to the Cubs along with Pedro Strop and cash in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
In his first half-season with the Cubs, Arrieta showed marked improvement while going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts. Two years later, Arrieta posted a career-best record of 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts en route to the NL Cy Young Award. He went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA and 190 punch outs the next season to earn his lone All-Star selection and help the Cubs end their infamous 108-year World Series drought.
Overall, Arrieta went 68-31 with 2.73 ERA in 128 starts with Chicago.
“Chicago was our home, and will forever be a special place for my entire family. We raised our children in Wrigleyville, one of the most iconic places in all of sports. Going to work everyday was an honor for many reasons from the storied history of the organization, to the high character individuals I was surrounded by year after year.
“Three consecutive NLCS appearances, two NL Central titles, and a World Series Championship...
The first in 108 years, childhood dreams turned reality, thanks to so many amazing people, all holding one another to a very high standard.”
Arrieta signed a three-year, $75mn deal to join the Phillies, joining Carlos Santana as the second high-profile player to join the 2008 World Series champs in free agency this offseason.
“I send gracious thanks to the (Cubs owners) Ricketts family and front office for the commitment to winning at any cost. Going the extra mile to take care of our families was never taken for granted. I was lucky to have dedicated teammates that willingly shed blood, sweat, and tears to achieve our goals,” Arrieta wrote.
“I will miss going to battle with all of you, but look forward to competing on opposite sides moving forward. Lastly, thanks to all Cubs fans around the world for standing with us, and investing in us even where times were tough. You will all be missed dearly. Thanks for the memories.”
Arrieta closed out his letter by signing it “49”, his jersey number with the Cubs.
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