Arrieta open to contract extension with Cubs

Arrieta open to contract extension with Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jake Arrieta has had success since joining the Cubs, winning a National League Cy Young Award in 2015 and a World Series last year, and he said on Wednesday that he expects to have conversations with the club regarding a contract extension.

Arrieta, who avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $15.637 million contract in January, will be eligible for free agency after this season. Arrieta, who turns 31 on March 6, said agent Scott Boras and the Cubs have an open dialogue.

"I think we'll have talks," Arrieta said prior to the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's not my No. 1 priority."

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon said on Wednesday that Arrieta's situation "could be a positive for him and us.

"If you're in that year [before free agency], you really want to put your best foot forward to attract the best contract the next season," Maddon said.

During Maddon's pre-spring meeting with Arrieta on Wednesday, the righty made it clear that the Cubs were more important than his contract status.

"He was all about winning, he's all about making all of his starts, he's all about winning," Maddon said. "He wants to make all of his starts for the guys in the other room and that's where his mind is at right now.

"We talk about process and that's the appropriate way to go about it," Maddon said. "If he stays mentally along those lines -- 'My goal is to make all the starts' -- he's good, he's very good. If he makes all of his starts, it means the numbers will be good enough to attract a lot of suitors."

There is the assumption that players will be more motivated prior to becoming free agents because of that need to attract teams.

"With Jake, what's another level of being pushed?" Maddon said. "It's hard to imagine him pushing himself anymore."

If the Cubs did give Arrieta an extension, that would be great, the pitcher said.

"I owe a lot to this team and this organization," Arrieta said. "I don't want to see my time here come to an end. ... I think there's opportunity, and we can have conversations as far as an extension is concerned."

Since joining the Cubs in July 2013 in a four-player trade with the Orioles that included Pedro Strop, Arrieta is 54-21 with a 2.52 ERA in 98 starts, and he has thrown a no-hitter in each of the last two seasons. He went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 2015 to win the NL Cy Young Award, and last year, he won his first NL Silver Slugger Award.

The Cubs will need starting pitching in 2018. Jon Lester, 33, and Kyle Hendricks, 27, are the only starters under contract for '18. Lester is signed through '21, and Hendricks will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season. John Lackey, 38, also is eligible for free agency after this season.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.