Cubs ace Jake Arrieta believes he will get a six- or seven-year deal if the Cubs don’t extend him before he becomes eligible for free agency following the 2017 season, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. “If we don’t work out a deal here, and I go to free agency, I will get six or seven years. No doubt about that,” Arrieta says. “I’d like to stay in Chicago, but if they don’t want me, somebody will.”
Arrieta’s comments appear consistent with reporting surrounding extension talks between him and the Cubs this past offseason, and they suggest there continues to be a wide gulf between player and team about the length of a potential deal. In early March, Jon Heyman reported that Arrieta was seeking seven-plus years, while the Cubs wanted to sign him for a shorter duration. In his latest article, Nightengale notes that, according to Arrieta’s agent Scott Boras, the Cubs weren’t willing to offer more than three or four years. Boras emphasizes that the two sides remain far apart.
“It’s like being in a museum and seeing contemporary art on one side, and the Mona Lisa on the other,” says Boras. “We’re both in the same museum. We both agree that the art is great. But we’re in two different hallways.”
The 30-year-old Arrieta, meanwhile, notes that free agent aces in their early thirties (such as David Price and Zack Greinke) have received six- or seven-year deals on the open market. Nightengale also notes that Arrieta currently has less wear on his arm than many pitchers his age, having only pitched 826 1/3 innings in the big leagues.
If Arrieta reaches free agency without signing an extension, he will only recently have turned 32 by the time his new deal begins, so Greinke (who is currently 32) seems like a reasonable comparable. Greinke has a longer track record of success than Arrieta currently does, but Arrieta’s current level of dominance (which has already resulted in a no-hitter this year after a brilliant stretch run in 2015) would appear to be more than enough for him to cite Greinke as a comparable pitcher. There is, however, risk in waiting to get to the point where he can cash in as Greinke did — Arrieta is currently only signed to an arbitration-avoiding $10.7MM deal for 2016.