(CBS) The prevailing thought in many baseball circles is that the Cubs will let right-hander Jake Arrieta walk when he hits free agency this November.

Only time will tell if that’s the case, but Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer insisted Friday that the team will certainly keep the door open for Arrieta’s return.

“Yeah,” Hoyer responded when asked if he can envision a situation in which Arrieta returns. “I mean, listen, he’s been fantastic for us since we got him in 2013. He’s been a big part of our culture. He’s been an enormous part of our success, and so of course we’re going to have those conversations. He’s earned free agency. He has every right to look around, but certainly, we’re going to be involved in that. So I don’t think people should look at it and say we’re not going to have those conversations. Like I said, he’s been a great Cub. We’re thrilled with what he’s done for us this year. We’ll see, but right now we’re entirely focused on September and then hopefully play well enough in September to play in October.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 next March, has been mighty durable for the Cubs, making 33 starts in his Cy Young-winning season in 2015, 31 last year and 27 this year with a month left in the season. He’s currently 14-8 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. After a rocky first half in which he had a 4.35 ERA, Arrieta has rebounded with a strong second half, going 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA in nine starts.

The Cubs will return Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana to their rotation next season, and they’ve made clear swingman Mike Montgomery is ready to fill a slot as well. Along with Arrieta, rotation mate John Lackey is also set to be a free agent.


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