As part of the annual Cubs Caravan, Jake Arrieta and his teammates were doing things to help the community and participate in other service projects. In the process, he was also able to speak to the media a bit about some pressing topics for 2016 and beyond, and you can read his comments here, here, here, and here, among other places.
Some of Arrieta’s thoughts, together with my own …
- Arrieta is not concerned about coming to a deal to avoid having to head to arbitration. Although he’s coming off a huge season and is going to be due a significant raise, there are some comparables out there upon which Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, and the Cubs’ front office can draw. Hopefully that means the sides can come to an agreement today for 2016, or, even if not, the range between the Cubs’ offer and Arrieta’s ask will be small. After making $3.63 million in his first year of arbitration in 2015, Arrieta figures to go past the $10 million mark this time around.
- But what about beyond 2016? Arrieta is under control for one more arbitration year in 2017, but would he be open to a long-term extension? He says he is, but his mindset is that he’s excited to be with the Cubs for the next two years, and, if he stays longer than that, great. Given his breakout and the continuing explosion of the market, it’s pretty hard to see him giving up his crack at free agency in just two years unless it’s for a significant deal. And, from the Cubs’ perspective, they’ve already got Arrieta for his age 30 and 31 seasons, so it’s gotta be hard to not only guarantee big dollars in those seasons up front, but then also pay near-free-agent-level dollars for Arrieta’s ages 32 through, say, 36 seasons (two years in advance).
- I don’t think anyone involved doesn’t want to see Arrieta staying with the Cubs long term on a fair deal, but given his unique situation (breaking out SO extremely in his late-20s, transitioning to his 30s with just two years of team control left), it’s just tough. I have trouble imagining a five or six-year contract that the Cubs would want to sign today, that I would also recommend Arrieta sign. In other words: the deal that might make sense for the Cubs might not make sense for Arrieta (and vice versa). That doesn’t make either side wrong; it’s just the way these things go sometimes.
- I had a huge smile on my face reading this quote (CSN, Tribune): “It’s hard to look at those three guys right there and feel like we’re not the favorite. I know that’s only on paper. You have to go out there and perform and show you’re the team to beat. But right now, it looks like we are.” That’s exactly right. The Cubs still have to play and win the games, but there’s no point in denying the reality: as constructed, the Cubs look so damn good. That doesn’t mean bad things can’t happen. It just means the starting point is very, very good.
- Arrieta talked a bit about his workload in 2015 – getting the experience of having pitched so many innings – and improving on his numbers in 2016, which he knows is not always entirely within his own control. It would also be absolutely batty if he were somehow able to improve on historically good numbers. By way of reminder: Arrieta’s ERA was 1.77 over 229.0 regular season innings. He was worth 7.3 WAR. To think that he could improve on those numbers (and, hey, I’d never put anything past him) gives me palpitations.
- And, lastly, the beard is back:
The beard is back! pic.twitter.com/WRXXz80ziJ
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) January 14, 2016