Now is the time for the Cubs to try to sign ace Jake Arrieta to a long-term deal, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago writes. Arrieta and the Cubs recently agreed on a one-year, $10.7MM contract to avoid arbitration in Arrieta’s second year of eligibility. Arrieta can currently become a free agent after the 2017 season. Of course, Arrieta’s agent Scott Boras would surely agree that an extension for Arrieta shouldn’t be cheap after his Cy Young award-winning 2015 season, and since Arrieta turns 30 next month, he might only have one shot at a big free agent deal, meaning he might not be inclined to sign now unless the deal is quite long. Also, Arrieta’s incredible stretch run changed the landscape since we last closely considered his extension candidacy. Levine proposes a four-year deal at an average of $23MM per season, with two club options. While it’s true that Arrieta’s salaries for the next two seasons are essentially set via the arbitration process, a $92MM deal with options would, in my opinion, be unlikely to bring Boras and Arrieta to the table. Recent history suggests Arrieta has a shot at a deal in the $200MM range if he waits until after 2017. Here’s more from the National League.
- The Pirates won 98 games last season and have a strong core in place, but many of their top competitors in the National League have improved, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Cubs have had a busy and productive offseason, and while the Cardinals have lost talent (some of it to their rivals in Chicago), they should benefit somewhat from better luck with injuries. The rest of the league, too, has become increasingly polarized, with several very bad teams, but lots of potentially strong ones, including the Mets, Nationals, Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks. The Bucs, however, continue to believe in themselves. “There’s no question the Cubs did a fantastic job on balancing amateur player acquisition and timing it with those young players being ready to hit the major league level and then pouring a ton of money into free agency,” says Pirates GM Neal Huntington. “They are going to be good going forward. The Cardinals are going to be good going forward. Our belief is, with this core that we have, that we are going to continue to be good going forward.”
- The Phillies don’t figure to be one of the NL contenders in 2016. They should, however, be fun, as FanGraphs’ Paul Swydan writes. They suddenly have only a handful of over-30 players, and the younger ones offer a mix of power (Maikel Franco), defensive ability (Odubel Herrera), speed (Cesar Hernandez) and, among the Phillies’ young pitchers, control (Aaron Nola). Then there’s top prospect J.P. Crawford, who could make his debut in 2016, along with a number of other very interesting minor leaguers, including Nick Williams, Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, Jake Thompson, Vincent Velasquez and Mark Appel.