While there’s no evidence of progress between the Cubs and Jake Arrieta on a new contract, the righty provided some interesting thoughts on his outlook to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Arrieta says he believes he may be able to land “a six- or seven-year deal” when he does sign, whether that’s with Chicago or another organization via free agency. And the 31-year-old adds that he’s looking ahead to a lengthy career, saying: “I feel very confident I can pitch until I’m 40. I do everything possible to make sure I’m healthy and durable.” Arrieta isn’t putting any time restrictions on talks with his current team, telling Heyman he’d consider offers at any time while also noting that he doesn’t want his contract situation to distract from the season to come.
Arrieta stands to play an important role in next year’s free-agent market. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently listed him as the top pending free agent in his first power ranking of next winter’s crop of open-market talent, with three other high-end hurlers not far behind. Here’s more on a few pitching situations from around the game:
- Another important potential extension scenario is still open out west, where the Giants and ace Madison Bumgarner have three years to consider another long-term pact. As Heyman writes, there’s nothing new to report at this point. And that’s fine with Bumgarner, who says it’s “not really up to me” when talks will get underway in earnest. “Whenever the time comes, it’ll be a conversation held in private,” he says. The star southpaw says he’s comfortable pitching under his previous extension for the time being, explaining that he has no regrets. After all, he acknowledges, both he and the organization took a risk in inking that pact.
- We could be talking about White Sox phenom Michael Kopech in similar terms one day if he accomplishes his personal goals, which he discusses at length in an interesting piece from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. Kopech tells Miller that he has his sights set on throwing harder than any pitcher ever has — he’s certainly already within range — while noting that his priority is “to be a dominant pitcher” regardless of the radar gun readings. Chicago fans who want to learn about one of the organization’s prized new prospects will want to give the post a full read.
- Mariners brass probably felt a mix of emotions as last night’s USA-Venezuela WBC matchup got underway, but as MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, it ended up going quite well for the organization. Long-time staff ace Felix Hernandez was excellent, but it was new lefty Drew Smyly who opened eyes with his performance. The 27-year-old southpaw notched eight strikeouts against a potent Venezuela lineup over 4 2/3 strong frames, allowing only one unearned run. And he topped out at over 94 mph with his fastball, setting a new personal high-water mark in that regard.
- The Angels are still sorting through their rotation plans for the season, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. Righties Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards appear to be vying for the Opening Day nod, with no signals as yet as to who’ll take the honors. The primary concern, of course, will be ensuring that each is prepared for a fully healthy campaign after their respective health scares in 2016. As Fletcher explains, there’s still some uncertainty with the rest of the staff. Ricky Nolasco and Jesse Chavez appear to be on track to secure rotation jobs, though it’s not yet clear whether southpaw Tyler Skaggs will be ready to roll at the start of the season given the “shoulder fatigue” he has experienced.
- Turning to an interesting pen situation, the Rockies liked what they saw out of righty Greg Holland yesterday, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. The one-time ace reliever, who’s working back from Tommy John surgery, returned to competitive mound action for the first time with a 95 mph heater and effective breaking offerings. While the three-up, three-down frame came against minor-league opposition, the outing represented an important step for Holland as he seeks to reestablish his health and once-dominating stuff. That leaves him on track to make six or eight Cactus League outings, Groke writes, though he won’t take the hill again until the weekend. While the team’s plans for the ninth inning remain unresolved at this point, Groke suggests that it’s likely Holland will receive the closer’s nod over Adam Ottavino.