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Jake Arrieta Discusses Potential Contract Extension, Value of Starting Pitching

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2016

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has been the hottest pitcher on the planet since the beginning of last season. 

Once a little-known back-end starter with the Baltimore Orioles, Arrieta was dealt in 2013 to Chicago, where he transformed into a Cy Young Award winner and one of the most unhittable pitchers the game has seen in this millennium.

Arrieta is signed with the Cubs only through 2017, though, and is making $10.7 million this season preceding a year of arbitration, per Spotrac. That means he is poised to make some big bucks, whether it be through a long-term contact extension with the Cubs or in free agency.  

When asked Wednesday if he was worth $175 million—like the deal Stephen Strasburg signed with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, per Bill Ladson of MLB.com—Arrieta said, "I'll let you judge that. Just look at the numbers," per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. 

Arrieta has answered a 22-6 Cy Young campaign in which he posted a 1.77 ERA with a 6-0 start and a 1.13 ERA, far better than any season Strasburg has posted in his seven years in the league despite his solid 5-0 start in 2016. 

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There are not many pitchers who can perform at Arrieta's level, which is why he's expecting to be rewarded with a big contract:

That's why starting pitching is so valuable. There's not many guys that can pitch at the top of the rotation floating around the league... aces get 7 years... Financially I'm fine, regardless. You want to be paid in respect to how your peers are paid. I don't think that changes with any guy you ask. It happens around baseball every year.

Rogers noted that a deal for Arrieta, whose agent is Scott Boras, will be in the range of around $200 million, and he won't be generous when negotiating with the Cubs. Arrieta answered questions on whether he'd give the Cubs a hometown discount with a quick "no."

He added: "The misconception is that Scott wants everyone to go to free agency. I made it clear I like Chicago. I think everyone knows that. If I had it my way, I'd stay here. That's just one side of the story. We'll see."

If he had it his way though, Arrieta would like a new deal to get done "quickly."

"Most of the focus has to stay on what we're trying to accomplish today," he said. "If we keep winning, those kinds of things work themselves out in time. If they want to talk, they know where I'm at, and we can get something going. ... Let's get it over with and go play."

While Arrieta's contract status looms, the Cubs are the best team in baseball with a 25-6 record, as general manager Theo Epstein has pieced together an early juggernaut that is an early favorite to win the National League

It's imperative the Cubs keep Arrieta in order to keep up with the strong pitching teams in the National League, such as the New York Mets and Washington Nationals. If he continues this elite level of play and the Cubs manage to find new levels of success, then Arrieta will likely become a very wealthy man.

Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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