Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta still expects to talk to the team about an extension before free agency and believes a deal is possible, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. However, Arrieta noted that extension talks aren’t his No. 1 priority as he focuses on his health and on the team’s chances of replicating last year’s World Series victory. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein, too, said he planned to meet with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, but as Wittenmyer explains, an extension still feels like a long shot. Boras has already compared Arrieta to right-hander Max Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210MM contract with the Nationals two winters ago. Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs aren’t likely to be open to a mega-deal — Jon Lester is just two years into his own $155MM pact — which could lead to Arrieta landing elsewhere in the long run. For the time being, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago tweeted yesterday that there are no talks scheduled between Boras and the Cubs.
Here’s more from the game’s central divisions:
- Pirates owner Bob Nutting spoke with Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a host of topics as he looks back on ten years in his current role. Nutting extolled the “transformation in every aspect of the organization” that has occurred in that time, describing the wide-ranging changes that have been undertaken. He also addressed concerns from some quarters with the team’s payroll, explaining that spending on MLB salaries isn’t the sole area where the organization is focused. “It’s how we’re drafting, it’s how we’re funding our international operations,” he said. “How we develop that talent, that broader picture of both investment in facilities, people and systems in our development system, which has completely transformed from what it had been and frankly what many other clubs are still doing. While the headline number of payroll is important, and we will invest there because we need to to win on the field, it’s also really important that that can’t be the sole metric that we use internally.” You’ll want to give the full interview a read to assess Nutting’s comments for yourself.
- While the Royals traded away several pending free agents, the club kept several others and obviously signaled its intention to compete with its overall offseason approach. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, Kansas City is still holding out the possibility of finding a way to keep one or more of its remaining players who’ll hit the open market after the 2017 season. Whether that could mean extension talks this spring isn’t clear, but it seems that the Royals will at least consider some kind of play for Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and/or Lorenzo Cain.
- Righty reliever Matt Belisle landed with the Twins after a bounceback 2016 campaign, due in some part to lobbying efforts from a few noted former teammates. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press writes, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer didn’t exactly press the veteran to join the Minnesota organization, but their involvement in the process seemingly helped Belisle gain comfort with the idea of heading to the rebuilding club. “If Cuddy and LaTroy believed in it, I know I would too,” he explains.