Jake Arrieta will pitch for the Cubs for at least one more season after this one. This much we know, as he cannot become a free agent until after the 2017 season.
What, then, should be done about a long-term extension for Arrieta? This article by Bob Nightengale from USA Today examines this topic (as well as some others that I'm not examining here).
Nightengale quotes Jake:
“If we don’t work out a deal here, and I go to free agency," Arrieta said, “I will get six or seven years. No doubt about that. I’d like to stay in Chicago, but if they don’t want me, somebody will."
The article goes on to say that the Cubs wouldn't offer more than a three- or four-year extension last winter, and that's where we stand right now. Arrieta points out, correctly:
“Look at all of the pitchers getting six- and seven-year deals at 30, 31, and 32," Arrieta said. “You see what’s going on and the money that’s out there. You’d be a fool not to try to benefit from that, or at least try to get what you feel you’re worth. “You’ve got to strike when the iron is hot. And mine will be hot for a while."
Nightengale notes that Zack Greinke got a six-year, $206 million contract from the Diamondbacks last winter, at age 32, the same age Jake will be when eligible for free agency. That deal hasn't worked out for Arizona, so far, though it's early in the first year. Greinke has been terrible; it would take 31 consecutive scoreless innings for him just to get his ERA to a reasonable 3.00 level, not close to the 1.66 he posted last year with the Dodgers.
Nightengale also writes these important words:
Arrieta’s pitched just 826 innings in the major leagues, thanks to frequent shuttles to the minor leagues in Baltimore, and should have less than 1,200 career innings when he hits the market. Greinke, by comparison, had 2,094 career innings pitched when he got his megadeal from Arizona.
Arrieta is known to be a fitness freak, possibly in the best shape of anyone in the major leagues today. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll continue to do so, and he says in the article that he wants to pitch till he's 40.
I'd like to see all those years in a Cubs uniform. Granted that by the time he gets to age 40, he's not likely to be as good as he is now, and if the Cubs sign him to a longterm extension, they're going to be paying later for performance over the next few years.
The Cubs could have gotten an extension done last offseason, but chose not to, instead focusing on signing Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey. If those players, plus the others on the team now, help them win a World Series this year, that could bring in huge amounts of money to help them sign Jake.
I'd very much like to see them get this done before the 2017 season begins so that Jake Arrieta can finish his career in a Cubs uniform. As he was quoted as saying above, he does like Chicago -- but he certainly wants to get paid, no matter who does it.
Get it done, Theo, so we can see more scenes like the one at the top of this article, the honor Jake got before Tuesday night's game, for throwing his second no-hitter.