MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Jake Arrieta is hopeful of working out a new contract that would keep him with the Chicago Cubs before he becomes eligible for free agency after the 2017 season, yet he also realizes this could be his final year with the club if talks don’t materialize.
The ace right-hander and 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner landed a one-year deal for $15,637,500 last month to avoid salary arbitration. As the reigning World Series champions geared up for the first pitchers and catchers workout, Arrieta insisted Wednesday at the start of spring training that he won’t allow his future to be a distraction.
“I think there’s an open dialogue there and I believe we will have talks. It’s not my No. 1 priority,” Arrieta said. “I just wanted to focus on my health and coming into camp as well rested and in as good of shape as I possibly can. If we have those conversations, we’ll sit down and hash some things out and see if we can get something worked out. If it happens, great, if not then I’ll continue to move forward and take it day by day.”
He came to the Cubs in a trade from Baltimore in 2013 and helped them end a 108-year championship drought last fall.
The 30-year-old Arrieta followed up his 22-win Cy Young season by going 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts and 197 1/3 innings last season. He won Games 2 and 6 of the World Series.
Manager Joe Maddon has no concerns about Arrieta being ready and putting aside his own situation.
“Honestly it could be a positive for him and for us,” Maddon said. “Obviously if you’re in that year, you’re really wanting to put your best foot forward to attract the best contract the next season. We had our meeting this morning with Jake. Again, I’ve said it all the time, but I’m always impressed with our guys when they walk out the door. He was just all about winning.”