The Cubs plan to talk to Scott Boras this winter about a contract extension for Jake Arrieta. The Cubs are obviously happy with Arrieta and would like him to remain with the team beyond the two years of control left before he becomes a free agent. Arrieta is arbitration eligible for the second time and is in line for a substantial raise. Arrieta was paid $3.63 million for what could be a Cy Young winning performance in 2015. Arrieta will make between $10-11 million next season.
Jake Arrieta has said publicly for two years how much he loves being a Cub. With Boras as his agent it is possible but not probable that Arrieta signs an extension this off-season or over the next two years.
Scott Boras fielded questions Wednesday about Arrieta and shared his thoughts on the Cubs at the GM Meetings. According to Comcast SportsNet, Boras doesn’t know how serious the Cubs are about signing Arrieta to an extension. He knows the Cubs are “pleased with Jake” and that he’s sure Arrieta is “happy playing there.”
Patrick Mooney thinks if the two sides talk about an extension those discussions “will probably go nowhere.” And reports from ESPN Chicago and the Sun-Times also indicated its doubtful an extension with Arrieta gets done this winter. Bruce Levine thinks an extension “will get completed this off-season.”
Boras pointed out the Cubs have “put themselves in a position where they’ve got just a budding garden of talent.” Boras also represents Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Chris Coghlan. While reportedly being careful not to say anything derogatory about the front office, Boras indicated the Cubs are in a new phase for ownership. Boras explained “it’s a championship phase, it’s not a rebuilding phase, it’s a championship phase. And how the owners react to that and what they do to garner that is a completely different thought process.”
Theo Epstein was asked Wednesday about his contract, which expires at the end of the 2016 season. Epstein did not have an update and reiterated the only time his contract comes up is when the beat writers ask him about it. Epstein maintains his contract, as well as others in baseball operations, is “a non-issue.”
Epstein explained to Patrick Mooney, “We’re totally focused on trying to grab additional wins for the 2016 Cubs … there will be a time when things are slower.”
Crane Kenney confirmed the team’s intentions Wednesday during an interview on Mully and Hanley (670 The Score) to start its own cable network in time for the 2020 season. The Cubs current TV contracts with Comcast SportsNet, WGN-TV Ch. 9 and ABC-7 run through the 2019 season. The Cubs will own the rights to all of their games starting in 2020.
Kenney said Wednesday, “2019 is our last year with Comcast, so we’ll move over and launch our own channel in 2020.”
Theo Epstein was asked about Kenney’s comments and he told Patrick Mooney he thinks “that’s just one option.” Epstein explained that the way he understands it is the Cubs “would be open to a deal earlier than that as well, as long as a good one presents itself.” Epstein pointed out a Cubs Network “would be a very real option.”
Epstein admitted he is not qualified to talk about TV deals and trusts that the business side will “deliver the right deal at the right time.”
According to reports from Jon Heyman and Jesse Rogers at least 20 teams have checked in with Zobrist’s representatives. Ben Zobrist could be a valuable addition to a team looking to contend next season. Rogers pointed out that realistically “about six-seven teams have a shot” at signing him.
The Cubs, Royals, Nationals and Braves are four of the teams Rogers listed.
Zobrist could sign early, possibly before the Winter Meetings, according to Rogers because there is not another player with his skillset on the market.
The Cubs and Zobrist rumors had quieted down prior to the GM Meetings, but the Cubs appear to be one of the teams that could sign him.
Rick Renteria spoke to the Cubs’ beat writers Wednesday for the first time since he was fired last fall. From all accounts, Renteria was extremely professional and courteous when he discussed the Cubs and the situation a year ago. Renteria did communicate with Jed Hoyer through the playoff run.
Renteria said he had no hard feelings toward the Cubs for the decision the front office made. Joe Maddon reached out to Renteria last year as he said he would. Renteria did not see the need to return the call and have a long discussion. Renteria texted Maddon instead, and the two did communicate.
Cubs in Cuba
The Cubs are one of several teams that would be interested in playing an exhibition game in Cuba toward the end of Spring Training. Major League Baseball would have to “clear all the diplomatic hurdles” to have a game take place in Cuba.
The Cubs would face the Cuban National team if chosen by MLB to participate in the game.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, “Rob Manfred reaffirmed his hopes to stage that groundbreaking game during his media session” at the GM Meetings.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Dave Martinez interviewed with the Dodgers on Wednesday at the GM Meetings. According to multiple reports, Martinez is the last of nine candidates. Martinez got his chance to make pitch for the Dodgers’ job according to Patrick Mooney. The Dodgers are looking to narrow the field down to three or four candidates, conduct a second round of interviews and have a manager in place by the Winter Meetings. The Sun-Times reported the Cubs are preparing, just in case he gets the job, to have to replace Martinez.
• Theo Epstein said Wednesday the Cubs would “love to invest in a reliever but we can’t do that and preclude a shot at a starter that we need.”
• The Cubs have been connected rather heavily to Darren O’Day. The Cubs reported interest in O’Day did not fit, and still doesn’t. There is little to no value to signing a reliever for more than two years. Several teams, including the Dodgers, Tigers and Nationals, are involved in the bidding for O’Day.
• The Yankees and Twins pulled off a solid trade for both teams Wednesday. Minnesota dealt OF Aaron Hicks to New York for C John Ryan Murphy. With Hicks now in the Bronx, the Yankees might be willing to move Brett Gardner.
• Ken Rosenthal reported the Mariners “seem more inclined to trade for an athletic center fielder rather than sign a free agent such as Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson or Denard Span.” The Mariners and Yankees have talked about a deal that would include Brett Gardner.
• The Dodgers are interested in re-signing free agent Chase Utley according to Ken Rosenthal.
• According to Danny Knobler, a Jake Arrieta-Zack Greinke-Jon Lester ‘Big 3’ would put the Cubs on 2016 title path.
• With the current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) set to expire on December 1, 2016, Major League Baseball’s Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand that negotiations with the MLBPA will begin in February/March.
• Joe Torre said Wednesday games averaged two hours and 56 minutes (2:56) this past season, down from three hours and two minutes (3:02) in 2014. The pace of game changes cut off an average of six minutes per game.
• Major League Baseball is looking into a rule change that would require baserunners to slide directly into second base.
• According to multiple reports, the Braves are talking to a team on the West Coast about Andrelton Simmons. The Padres appear to be the fit and are interested but nothing was close at the time of this writing. Ken Rosenthal indicated the Braves are discussing Simmons with multiple teams. And Joel Sherman reported the Padres, Dodgers and Angels are all interested in Simmons.
• Speaking of the Braves, A.J. Pierzynski re-signed with Atlanta on a one-year, $3 million contract. Pierzynski receives a $1 million signing bonus and a $2 million salary in 2016 with an incentives package worth an addition $1 million.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs selected Donn Roach off waivers from the Padres
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Eli Whiteside
2008 – Lou Piniella was named National League Manager of the Year. Joe Maddon was named American League Manager of the Year.
2007 – Cubs traded Jacque Jones to the Tigers for Omar Infante
2006 – Cubs signed Aramis Ramirez to a five-year, $75 million contract
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Ben Howard
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Smith
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Kerry Wood
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Bryan Corey
2002 – Cubs released Roosevelt Brown
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Angel Guzman
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Alan Zinter
1986 – Cubs granted free agency to Chris Speier
1985 – Cubs granted free agency to Richie Hebner
1978 – Aaron Heilman, born
1968 – Sammy Sosa, born
1964 – Dave Otto, born
1956 – Jody Davis, born