The Chicago Cubs have a few important decisions to make during the offseason. It is not a secret that the 2016 World Series champions must improve their rotation, but they shouldn’t go all crazy spending money on the open market. Especially if they are going to sign a player who might be slightly past his prime.

We are talking about Jake Arrieta. The 2015 NL Cy Young winner has been one of the best pitchers for the Cubs during the last three years, but he is about to enter free agency for the first time in his career. And considering he wants an ace-like contract – and his agent has said Arrieta deserves a deal in the $200 million range – the Cubs can take two avenues. They can pay him what he wants to keep him as the third – or even fourth – starter, or let him go.

And while Arrieta is certainly a fan favorite, the organization needs to do the smart thing. And that’s letting him go to any team that wants to sign him for the deal he is looking for.

Comparing Arrieta in Recent Years?

Arrieta is coming off a decent season, but he wasn’t stellar as he has been in the past. He posted a 14-10 record with a 3.53 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 168.1 innings. If we compare him to his NL Cy Young year (22-6, 1.77 ERA), it is clear he was a few steps below that performance in 2017.

He is also 31 years old, so he might not be able to perform on the same level towards the end of a potential long contract. All those factors need to be considered going forward. He is beginning to enter his decline years, and the Cubs shouldn’t hand a massive contract to a player that might not live up to the expectations in the first place.

There’s no question Arrieta is a very talented pitcher, and he is also a leader in the clubhouse. But the Cubs need to be wise with their money. They already have Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks, so Arrieta wouldn’t be anything more than a third starter in the club. There are cheaper alternatives either in the open market or via trade, so there’s no sense in making such a long commitment to Arrieta, especially considering the way he pitched last season.

It’s time to cut him loose. That way, the Cubs wouldn’t make a deal they would likely regret in the future, while Arrieta will get the money he deserves in an organization where he will really be the ace he wants to be.