Whether the Cubs extend right-hander Jake Arrieta prior to free agency next winter will be up to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, chairman Tom Ricketts told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “They have the right perspective on what they have to put a great team on the field this year but have a longer term perspective in realizing decisions that affect this year might hurt us in a few years,” said Ricketts, who added that the reigning World Series champions will be “thoughtful and strategic” in deciding when to exceed the luxury-tax threshold. The Cubs spent past the mark for the first time last year, but they’re on track to avoid the penalty this season, estimates Jason Martinez of Roster Resource and MLBTR. Allowing Arrieta to walk in free agency next year would help the Cubs stay under the limit in 2018, too, though they’d also lose the 2015 NL Cy Young winner and one of the game’s top starters. It seems that will happen, however, as Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, could push for a $200MM-plus deal. In the meantime, Arrieta will make $15.6375M in his final year of team control.
More from the Senior Circuit:
- Before he accepted the Padres’ one-year, $3MM offer on Saturday, righty Jered Weaver drew interest from other teams, including the Reds, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Weaver, a California native who spent the first 11 years of his career in Anaheim, could have signed for more money had he left his home state, per Heyman. In Cincinnati, the 34-year-old Weaver likely would have joined Anthony DeSclafani, Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan as locks for the rotation.
- A pair of high-profile Mets took small but encouraging steps in their injury recoveries Sunday, manager Terry Collins announced (via MetsBlog). Third baseman David Wright threw for the first time since he underwent neck surgery last June, accumulating 30 tosses from 60 to 70 feet, and “felt good” (Twitter link via Matt Ehalt of The Record). Right-hander Zack Wheeler, meanwhile, threw his first bullpen session since he he felt “tenderness” in his surgically repaired elbow earlier this week and didn’t report any problems afterward. Wheeler didn’t pitch in the majors in either of the past two seasons – and totaled just one minor league inning, at the High-A level, in that time – on account of a 2015 Tommy John procedure. Health permitting, Wheeler could slot back into the Mets’ rotation this year, but assistant general manager John Ricco told MLB Network Radio on Sunday that it’s too early to determine whether they’ll use the soon-to-be 27-year-old as a starter or reliever (Twitter link).
- As of early January, the Nationals were prepared to begin extension talks with contract-year manager Dusty Baker. While it’s unclear if discussions have since begun, Baker indicated Sunday that he expects to hammer out an agreement with the club in the near future. “I’m very confident that we’ll get things worked out,” Baker told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). “You’d like to do it sooner rather than later because I don’t want to be a distraction.” In 2016, Baker’s first season at the helm in D.C., the Nats improved from 83-79 to 95-67 en route to an NL East title, though they weren’t able to get past the Dodgers in the NLDS.
- While Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips claims he didn’t block the Reds’ initial attempt to trade him to Atlanta in November, members of the Cincy organization say otherwise, according to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. However, those individuals have elected against going on the record to dispute Phillips’ account so as not to create a public rift with the longtime franchise cornerstone.