Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta remains optimistic about future

Feb 15, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta during a Spring Training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2017; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta during a Spring Training workout at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into a contract year, Chicago Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrieta says he’s open to an extension and he has one focus: helping his team win.

For the better part of three years, Jake Arrieta has been one of the most valuable weapons in the Chicago Cubs’ arsenal.

In 2015, he won the National League Cy Young Award. Last year, he turned in an impressive season, despite taking a step backward by several measures. He rose to the challenge in the postseason, helping lead the Cubs to a championship.

Arrieta won 18 games, to go along with a still-impressive 3.10 earned run average across 197 1/3 innings of work. Between April and May, he combined to go 9-0 with a complete game. His hot start played a big role in the Cubs’ large cushion in the NL Central all season long.

Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs

After agreeing to terms on a one-year, $15.6 million deal to avoid arbitration, Arrieta and the Cubs have shown no signs of making long-term headway.

Despite this, the right-hander told media he’s open to a long-term contract with the Cubs.

"“There’s an open dialogue and I believe we will have talks,” Arrieta said. “But it’s (not) my No. 1 priority.”"

His win above all else mentality has emanated throughout the Cubs’ clubhouse. This team is hungrier than ever to prove itself. A productive, dominant Jake Arrieta would go a long way in helping achieve that goal.

Two years ago, he put together one of the most impressive pitching campaigns in baseball history. Post All-Star Break, he posted a 0.75 ERA and 5.16 SO/BB mark for Chicago, en route to the first Cubs’ Cy Young since Greg Maddux in 1992.

Focus and toughness continue

With that in mind, fans probably had unrealistic expectations for the bearded ace heading into 2016. Control issues crept back into Arrieta’s game and he hit a few rough patches down the stretch. Through it all, however, he always maintained his razor-sharp focus and mental toughness.

Those qualities continue to shine in Arrieta, who is adamant he does not become a distraction to what the team is trying to do: win back-to-back World Series for the first time since 1907 and 1908.

"“I don’t typically like to verbalize a lot of those things from an individual contract situation because it can take some attention away from what we’re trying to do here collectively. (But) I don’t mind addressing it if (it comes up). My main focus will be trying to help these guys as much as I can this year.”"

It still seems unlikely the Cubs and Arrieta get together on a long-term deal. He’s likely to seek a contract he’ll end his career under and Chicago hasn’t doled out anything like that outside of Jon Lester under Theo Epstein.

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Still, stranger things have happened. Regardless of whether Jake Arrieta is in a Cubs’ uniform next spring is irrelevant. His focus on helping this team win another championship is what matters right now.