We now sit 21 days — exactly three weeks from Opening Day — and former Cubs ace Jake Arrieta remains unemployed (though agent Scott Boras insists a deal is just a phone call away).

The Arrieta watch is getting almost whimsical at this point, and things took a dramatic turn Thursday when our old pal Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Padres might be in play for the right-hander.

When Arrieta hit the market, the Padres weren’t the top name of potential landing spots for the 2015 Cy Young Award winner. As Heyman notes: “Padres sources suggest they are checking in with a number of star free agents remaining periodically in case there’s a deal that makes sense but ultimately expect to go with the young pitchers they currently have in camp.”

Seems like a stretch, and Kevin Acee at the San Diego Union-Tribune notes “Padres officials insist they are not actively seeking pitching from the outside.” Acee still details why Arrieta could make sense for the Padres.

But at this stage, Arrieta and Boras are in a position to listen to all suitors.

Of course, the Padres could also be looking at other top free-agent pitchers such as Alex Cobb and or Lance Lynn, who also need to get in major-league camps soon.

Meanwhile, just for fun, we included a 2011 photo of Arrieta with the Orioles at the top of this post and a shot from last fall at the bottom.

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field after being relieved in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game four of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)