By Janie McCauley
MESA, Ariz. — Jake Arrieta is hopeful of receiving a contract extension 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 that his future isn’t going to be something he allows to be a distraction at the start of spring training.
“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 innings last season. He won Games 2 and 6 of the World Series as the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in the deciding Game 7.
On Wednesday, Arrieta opened boxes of new shoes and piles of fan mail at his locker before heading into meetings to get started at the Cubs’ spring training complex.
“Time flies really quickly. It feels like only a few months ago that I was traded over here and started my career as a Cub in 2013,” he said. “I’ve had some incredible experiences with this organization. I owe a lot to this team and this organization and the ownership. I don’t want to see that time come to an end, my time as a Cub. Unfortunately the business side of the game shows its head every once in a while. But I still think there’s opportunity and chances that we can have good conversations as far as an extension’s concerned.”