CHICAGO — The Cubs placed right-hander Jake Arrieta on unconditional release waivers Thursday, one day after he gave up seven runs and eight hits in the first inning of a 10-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
“He was struggling,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. “Not getting deep into starts. We’ve been patient and tried to get through it and hopefully he [would] come out the other side and pitch better. We weren’t there.”
Arrieta is 5-11 with a 6.88 ERA in his second stint with the Cubs. He pitched for them previously, from 2013 to 2017, winning the Cy Young Award in 2015 and helping Chicago to a World Series title in 2016. But his ERA has gone up for six straight seasons, including three with the Philadelphia Phillies.
“Early on in the season, his stuff was a little sharper,” Hoyer said. “Over time, things tapered back a bit, whether that was some injury issues or age or whatever. He did everything he could do to succeed.”
From May 19 until his release, Arrieta’s ERA was 9.00. Wednesday wasn’t even his worst start against the Brewers this season. That came in Milwaukee on June 30 after being staked to a 7-0, first-inning lead. Arrieta lasted just 1⅔ innings as the Brewers scored 15 unanswered runs in a win that would help make the Cubs decide to subtract more than add at the trade deadline.
Hoyer chose to remember the good times with Arrieta, when he was as dominant as any pitcher in the game. He was 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA the year he won the Cy Young Award.
“Nothing that happened on the mound last night or other nights in any way diminishes his role in club history,” Hoyer stated. “You could say he’s one of the more influential people in the history of the franchise.”
By returning to the Cubs this season, Arrieta reunited with David Ross, who caught Arrieta’s second no-hitter and led Chicago to the NL Central championship last year in his first season as manager. Ross said the decision to release Arrieta was tough.
“You hate that one on so many levels for me,” Ross said. “A friend and a guy I’ve got so much to be thankful for that he’s given me. It just stinks. I try to forget stuff like last night, look at what he’s done for this organization, how consistent he has been with the time I was on his team in ’15 and ’16.”
Arrieta had signed a one-year, $6 million deal with Chicago for 2021.
The Cubs also placed catcher Willson Contreras on the 10-day injured list with a right knee injury that worsened while doing blocking drills. The team called up pitcher Ryan Meisinger and catcher Austin Romine from Triple-A Iowa to take the place of Contreras and Arrieta on the roster. Left-hander Kyle Ryan was also designated for assignment.
Chicago has lost seven in a row and is 2-13 since the All-Star break, when it traded Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez and Kris Bryant. On Wednesday, the Cubs struck out 10 straight times against Brewers starter Corbin Burnes, allowing him to tie a major league record. Hoyer insisted this version of the Cubs won’t be the team that heads into next season.
“I don’t think you can connect what happens here, over the next two months, with going forward,” he said. “Right now, we’re playing a bit short-handed. We traded a lot of guys away.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.