The Cubs will gain a compensation pick in the 2018 draft if either Arrieta or Davis turns down their one-year offer of $17.4 million. Arrieta and Davis have 10 days to decide, and the Cubs can continue to negotiate with the agents for both players.
President Theo Epstein has said he would like to re-sign both players but realizes competing with other teams in an open market presents a challenge.
Arrieta, 31, said in March he believes he can pitch until 40, and agent Scott Boras has intimated Arrieta could command a seven-year contract.
Davis, 32, is the top free-agent closer on the market after converting 32 of 33 save chances in 2017, and the Cubs don’t have a full-time replacement for him. The $17.4 million qualifying offer is $200,000 more than the annual average of the five-year, $86 million contract the Yankees gave Aroldis Chapman.
Meanwhile, the trade market appears more attractive and cheaper to pitching-needy teams such as the Cubs in a thin free-agent market for starting pitching. The Rays’ Alex Cobb and the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn were two starting pitchers who received qualifying offers by Monday’s deadline.
Teams that exceeded the luxury tax the previous season would lose their second- and fifth-highest draft picks, as well as a $1 million reduction in their international bonus pool, for signing a free agent who rejects a quality qualifying offer.
The Cubs, who paid $2.96 million in luxury taxes last December, will learn of their status next month.
In roster news, the Cubs claimed reliever Cory Mazzoni off waivers from the Padres, selected the contract of reliever Matt Carasiti from Triple-A Iowa and outrighted outfielder Leonys Martin off the 40-man roster, which now stands at 34.
Mazzoni, 28, was a second-round pick of the Mets in the 2011 draft and was traded to the Padres before the 2015 season. He pitched in 14 major-league games in 2015 and 2017, allowing 32 earned runs on 40 hits in 16 2/3 innings.
Carasiti, 26, struck out 25 in 19 1/3 innings and posted a 4.66 ERA in 19 appearances for Iowa after the Cubs acquired him from the Rockies organization for left-hander Zac Rosscup.