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Former #Chicago Cubs pitcher #Jake Arrieta might be the most sought after free agent pitcher on the market, after Japanese import Shohei Otani [VIDEO]. While there has been some talk that the former #Cy Young winner would like to return [VIDEO] and that the Cubs would like to have him back, it appears quite a bit of work would have to be done to make that happen.

New reports indicate that there is a list of five teams that are actively going after Arrieta, and the Cubs are currently not one of those five. That doesn’t mean there is zero chance that the pitcher could return to the North side, but it does appear that that means they would need to get a similar situation like Dexter Fowler in 2016.

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That means Scott Boras would have to massively overrate the market for Arrieta and have the pitcher limp back to Chicago on a short term deal.

Chicago Cubs have stiff competition for Jake Arrieta

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has broken down the five teams that might be going after Arrieta this offseason. We’ve known for a while that the Milwaukee Brewers were interested. There is the added fun factor of throwing the pitcher against his old teammates that probably gets the Brew Crew going. Cafardo says the other four teams that might pursue the former Cy Young winner are the Minnesota Twins, the Toronto Bluejays, the Colorado Rockies, and the Texas Rangers.

The one caveat that comes with this list is that Cafardo apparently got it from Jake’s agent. While Scott Boras has every reason to tell anyone who will listen all the teams that have shown interest in his client, one has to wonder just how much interest has been shown.

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It certainly wouldn’t be beyond Boras to put a single phone call from the Twins asking what kind of money Arrieta wants in the same category of several contract negotiation meetings that he might have had with a team with deeper pockets like the Rangers. It’s best for his agent for Boras to make it look like there’s a raging market for Jake.

The offseason has been surprisingly quiet

Boras might especially be looking to promote his client considering just how quiet things have been so far this offseason. The longer it takes to sign anybody, the lower the asking price for everybody is going to be.

Boras and Arrieta are also walking a fine line, because you don’t always want to be the first pitcher to sign a contract and “set the market.” While sometimes this is the ceiling, other times, teams might be willing to pay lesser pitchers more than what the first guy signed for, because the more talented pitcher is off the board. The Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta know all about this balancing act and will be dancing around each other for most of the winter.