Jake Arrieta had an incredible season and his historic second half had a big impact on the run the Cubs went on that took the team all the way to the National League Championship Series.
Theo Epstein talked about Jake Arrieta’s performance, his leadership in the clubhouse and the possibility of the Cubs signing Jake Arrieta to a contract extension.
It took close to 30 minutes for Epstein to field questions Thursday about Jake Arrieta. Epstein said he should have given kudos to Arrieta before he did for “an incredible breakthrough season.” Arrieta led the way for the 97-win Cubs team on the mound.
“We told Jake after we were done playing that we’ve all seen a lot of impact, elite performances before in the past. We’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of great players. He handled the breakthrough and the dominance with such class and in such a generous and inclusive manner that I think it set the tone for the whole team. After the no-hitter, including all of his teammates. As he got all of the attention down the stretch, deflecting it to the team as a whole.”
“That set an amazing tone and we’re really thankful for that and of course what he did on the mound as well,” Epstein said. “And his mindset of always trying to get better just by being at the top I think really rubbed off on everybody and will continue for a couple of years at least.”
Jake Arrieta is under club control for the next two seasons. He is arbitration eligible for the second time and will receive a hefty pay increase. Arrieta made $3.63 million for the 2015 season and should be looking at the $10-11 million range for 2016.
“With his contract, he is a Cub for next season  and he is a Cub for 2017 and I’m sure there will come a point in time where we will approach Jake and his agent Scott Boras about seeing if we can extend that window. We’d be foolish not to want to do that.”
“We’re not going to talk about it publicly, when that time is or how it goes or anything like that,” Epstein said. “Of course we will sit down and try to see what happens but more than anything we are just appreciative of the person he is, the year that he had and at the very least the next two seasons in a Cub uniform look like for him. I hope it’s more.”
Jake Arrieta has thrived with the Cubs since the trade from Baltimore in July 2013.
With the Cubs, Arrieta is 36-13 in 67 starts with a 2.26 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 2.62 FIP. Arrieta has given up 298 hits with 113 walks and 440 strikeouts in 437 1/3 innings. And the numbers in 2015 speak for themselves.
Arrieta was 22-6 in 33 starts with four complete games, three complete game shutouts that included a no-hitter. Arrieta is a leading candidate for the NL Cy Young award after posting a 1.77 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and a 2.35 FIP. For the season, Arrieta allowed 52 runs, 45 earned, on 150 hits with 48 walks and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings. And he put together the best second half in the history of baseball.
After the break, Jake Arrieta was 12-1 in 15 strikeouts with a 0.75 ERA and 0.73 WHIP. He allowed just 12 runs, nine earned, on 55 hits with 23 walks and 113 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings.
There are rumblings within the industry that Arrieta might be willing to sign an extension because he has performed so well with the Cubs and his relationship with Chris Bosio. Scott Boras is still his agent and he prefers taking his clients to free agency. Plus, Boras compared Arrieta to Max Scherzer before the no-hitter and his performances in September and in the NL Wild Card Game.
According to Comcast SportsNet, Arrieta really likes pitching for the Cubs and Joe Maddon, plus he likes the direction the organization is going in.
Jon Heyman suggested Arrieta “surely would hope to become the highest paid pitcher in Cubs history” surpassing the $155 million Jon Lester received last off-season. Arrieta is appreciative of what the Cubs have done for him according to Heyman but his report downplayed the Cubs impact on Arrieta. Heyman thinks Arrieta might take a discount in order to sign an extension and stay with the Cubs.
There is no rush for the Cubs to sign him to an extension. As Epstein said, Arrieta will be in a Cubs uniform for at least the next two years. Plus, having him under control for two more seasons might ramp up the front office’s timeline this winter to make moves that put the Cubs in a better position to play deeper into October with Jake Arrieta.
Reports from Theo Epstein’s End of Season Press Conference
- Cubs Invite Joe Maddon’s Entire Coaching Staff Back for Next Season
- Cubs Would Like to Add at Least One Quality Starting Pitcher
- Theo Epstein’s End of Season Press Conference was Chock-Full of Information
- Cubs Will Continue Playing Kyle Schwarber Behind the Plate and in the Outfield
Follow Chicago Cubs Online on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors