The Cubs needn’t be in a rush to extend ace Jake Arrieta, opines ESPN’s David Schoenfield. Arrieta’s camp is said to be seeking a seven-year deal, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, while the pitcher himself mentioned hoping to remain in Chicago for six or seven seasons. Though Arrieta’s 2015 results stack up with any pitcher in the game, Schoenfield notes that the righty hasn’t first proven himself capable of delivering consecutive 200-inning, 30-start seasons — unlike other pitchers to command seven-year deals. Arrieta will hit free agency at the age of 32, which makes him older than a typical free agent. However, he’s also thrown fewer innings in the Majors and minors combined than his peers that have inked seven-year deals by a fairly wide margin. Schoenfield also points out that president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer seem to prefer to build around position players, as evidenced by their young core. Of course, the duo shelled out $155MM for Jon Lester just over a year ago, so it’s not as if the Cubs’ top decision-makers are entirely averse to long-term deals for pitchers.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Despite the fact that the Cardinals will be without Jhonny Peralta for what looks to be a span of two to three months, the team has yet to call other clubs on potentially available shortstops, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, as it awaits a final decision on Peralta’s recovery. One exec told Stark that he feels Braves shortstop Erick Aybar “has to be at the top of their list,” adding that “of the guys out there, he’s far and away the best player.” The Braves have shown a willingness to trade virtually anyone other than Freddie Freeman, so it would stand to reason that Aybar, a free agent at season’s end, could be had despite sitting atop Atlanta’s depth chart at shortstop. I took a look at a number of speculative shortstop options for the Redbirds shortly after Peralta’s injury.
- Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett was shut down recently due to persistent pain in his right (throwing) shoulder, but an MRI performed today revealed nothing more than mild tendinitis, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Knowing that there’s no structural damage, the Brewers will ease Gennett back into action, starting with drills, per manager Craig Counsell. Counsell did note that Gennett would essentially be starting “from the beginning,” though he made no mention of the second baseman’s readiness for Opening Day being jeopardized.
- Indians right-hander Tommy Hunter may open the season on the disabled list due to lingering effects from offseason hernia surgery, but that issue is not what caused a two-year deal with Hunter and the Yankees to fall through, reports MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (on Twitter). The Yankees reportedly had an agreement in the $11.5MM to $12MM range with Hunter disintegrate because of concerns over his physical, but the problem was not related to Hunter’s surgery nor his previous groin injuries, per Bastian. Whatever gave the Yankees pause didn’t curb the Indians’ interest, says Bastian, although considering the fact that the Yankees were initially going to offer a guarantee six times greater than the one Hunter received from Cleveland, it’s probably not surprising that they were a bit stingier with their medical evaluation.
- News of the Indians’ signing of Will Venable to a minor league deal broke within hours of Abraham Almonte’s 80-game suspension for a failed PED test, but president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told Cliff Floyd and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that his club had been in negotiations with Venable for awhile before they learned of Almonte’s suspension anyway (audio link). “Thankfully, at that point, in Almonte’s case, we had been engaged with a number of free agents, including Will Venable, and were able to bring that to conclusion, coincidentally about the same time, but that actually had been something we were working on for quite awhile,” said Antonetti.