MESA, Ariz. – It doesn’t look like anything will happen soon with the Chicago Cubs and star pitcher Jake Arrieta, if at all. There have been occasional talks, but the sense so far seems to be the Cubs wouldn’t go past three years, or maybe four, and Arrieta has his eye on a long contract befitting one of the best pitchers in the game.
The Cubs are very cognizant of age and probability, and Arrieta just turned 31, which means they probably won’t do a super long deal for him. There is no word anything’s going on now, and while Arrieta doesn’t feed into it by mentioning anyone but the Cubs, where he’s become a star after struggling so much in Baltimore, you hear occasional rumors about the Dodgers and others.
Arrieta is, as he says, “focused on the task at hand,” and yet at the same time, he makes no bones about where he should end up – at least in terms of years.
“I don’t think a six- or seven-year deal is out of the question,” Arrieta said, pointing out the lengthy careers of Cub John Lackey and ex-Cub Rich Hill. “I feel very confident I can pitch until I’m 40. I do everything possible to make sure I’m healthy and durable. It could be six or seven more years. Or it could be 12.”
The Cubs stepped up for Jon Lester, giving him a six-year, $155-million free-agent deal, which actually seems like a bargain compared to the seven-year, $210-million deal Max Scherzer got, the seven-year, $217-million deal David Price got and the six-year, $206.5-million deal Zack Greinke got. Greinke may be the best comp since he was 32 when he signed as a free agent the second time, a little older than Arrieta will be as a free agent.
Arrieta understands it probably isn’t up to him at this point.
“The ball’s not really in my court,” is the way he put it.
He says he’d listen if the Cubs came with an offer now, or during the season, but he also stresses that he wants to guard against taking the focus away from what they are trying to do (repeat as champions after not winning for 107 straight years) with “my individual discussion.”
He loves the Cubs, and they love him (GM Jed Hoyer said, “We’ve never lost our affection for Jake. Since Day 1, he’s been a great pitcher and citizen.“).
But he also knows nothing may happen.
“The team’s going to do what’s in their best interest,” Arrieta said. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”