By Bruce Levine–
BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBS) — The avenue to a long-term contract for Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta seems to have a couple road blocks in the way.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
Coming off a career year and second half that was unprecedented in baseball history, Arrieta will likely win the NL Cy Young next week. He went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 229 innings.
Arrieta is represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, who’s in Boca Raton for the GM meetings as free agency has opened. Boras was vague when I asked him if he has or will talk to the Cubs about a long-term deal for the 29-year-old Arrieta.
“We have met with a lot of teams here,” Boras said in a most different tone than usual. “We are going to be talking about that as the offseason unfolds for Jake.”
Arrieta has two years of arbitration left before free agency is available to him after the 2017 season. The arbitration system should take him from the $3.63 million he made in 2015 upward of $15 million in 2016. There are benefits to Arrieta and the Cubs reaching a long-term deal now. They could avoid any hard feelings of a 2016 salary negotiation reaching arbitration, where beliefs can be revealed when presenting a case. Arrieta could get long-term financial security without risking any injury, and the Cubs could negotiate with Arrieta in a closed market instead of having outsiders run his price up.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
Arrieta struggled to establish himself before getting to the Cubs in July of 2013. Since the start of 2014, he’s a combined 32-11 with a 2.08 ERA. Before this year’s breakout season, the most innings he had pitched was 156 2/3 innings in 2014. Arrieta flew past that mark by 92 innings when including the playoffs.
Boras usually waits for the players he represents to reach the open market before negotiating a long-term deal. In this case, Arrieta may want to get something done now, knowing the Cubs and pitching coach Chris Bosio helped resurrect his career.
“Most pitchers are free agents when they are 30,” Boras said. “He will be 32, so that is not that big of a difference. Jake has had a track like (Max) Scherzer. He had a Cy Young kind of year in his fourth season. A lot of people in baseball knew Jake Arrieta has special skills. It’s nice to see him put it all together.”
I’ve known Boras for 30 years. Before Wednesday, I’ve never heard him so wishy-washy on any player’s situation like this one.
Boras didn’t pontificate or go on a long tangent about Arrieta, and that leads me to believe a deal between the two sides will get completed this offseason. Arrieta’s a practical guy who has busted his butt to become the best pitcher in baseball. He has too much common sense to let an opportunity like this go by the boards without obtaining generational wealth for himself and his family when the opportunity presents itself.MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.