Chicago Cubs: N.L. Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta wants job security

Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) stretches during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) stretches during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Just weeks after agreeing to a one-year, $10.7 million contract, the Chicago Cubs and ace Jake Arrieta find themselves farther apart than ever before.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer managed to negotiate with the veteran pitcher during the arbitration period. It appears the Cubs were open to a “mega deal” but the length of that contract was the catalyst for the talks breaking down.

Arrieta, 30, is a client of super-agent Scott Boras. Although Arrieta is under team control until the conclusion of the 2017 season, it’s no surprise that Boras and his client are making an aggressive move to solidify his place among the elite in the league. Boras attempted another power play last spring when he accused the Cubs of holding Kris Bryant in the minors in order to gain another year of control.

Given the statistical numbers and the Cy Young Award on his mantle, Arrieta makes a decent case for an extension. The Cubs remain open to an extension but feel that given Arrieta’s age, a seven-year deal just doesn’t make sense.

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Kershaw and Price, both of whom are making about $30 million annually, seem to be the examples that Boras and Arrieta are holding up as a negotiating tool.

Arrieta, who has made 25 starts only twice in his five-year career up to now, is trying to lock down a long-term contract before his body begins to break down on him. The Cubs ace takes incredible care of his body and seems to have found a way to stay healthy.

The David Price contract is more comparable given that Price and Arrieta are both 30. Both Clayton Kershaw and Price have opt-outs built in that they can use following the 2018 season. For Arrieta, he won’t become a free agent for the first time until 2018.

Arrieta has been nothing short of spectacular the last two years. If we recall back to 2014, Arrieta flirted with history by taking no-hitters into the 7th inning or, later on, numerous occasions. Demanding the kind of money that Kershaw or Price are making still seems premature. The Cubs have the service time leverage, and Arrieta isn’t getting any younger.

When it comes time to sign as a free agent, Arrieta will be 32-years-old. If the Cubs agreed to the deal, we would be looking at a pitcher who would still be under contract until he was 37. I’m not afraid to support the decision to pay a guy who has been the best at his position, but I am cautiously aware of Arrieta’s health in the past and the unorthodox mechanics he displays on the mound.

The Chicago Cubs want Jake Arrieta to be part of their plans moving forward and an extension is still a possibility. For a long-term deal to happen, the Cubs’ front office will want a team-friendly structure that would cover the remaining arbitration years.

The danger of suggesting a structure like this is that we acknowledge that the contract would have to be backloaded. Although it helps the teams short-term, the result is a pitcher who is getting paid the majority of his deal at a time when natural decline is bound to happen.

Next: Cubs, Arrieta far apart on long-term deal

Talks will resume at some point, but if Arrieta repeats his performance in 2016, the payday he is seeking may come true. Until that time comes, the Cubs should remain steadfast in their approach. The player may not like it, and the agent may condemn it, but the Cubs are in control. Theo and company will know when to reward the efforts of their assets.