Cubs ace Arrieta seeks long-term deal

2015 NL Cy Young Award winner: 'I want to stay here for six or seven years'

Cubs ace Arrieta seeks long-term deal

MESA, Ariz. -- Jake Arrieta has made it clear to the Cubs that he wants to stay with the team. It's just a matter now of figuring out how long of a deal the two sides can agree upon.

The Cubs and Scott Boras, Arrieta's agent, did discuss a long-term contract this offseason after the right-hander won the National League Cy Young Award, posting a 22-6 record and a 1.77 ERA. Arrieta was arbitration-eligible, and the two sides settled on a one-year, $10.7 million deal. They've continued conversations this spring.

"Where we left it was they wanted to extend me for a shorter period of time than we would like," Arrieta said Tuesday. "Plain and simple, I want to stay here for six or seven years, and that's it. If I'm going to sign a deal, that's kind of the neighborhood we need to be in.

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"Obviously, there has to be a compromise on both sides," he said. "I'm getting to the point where I'm close to being a free agent. I know the deals that have been offered to other players in similar situations."

Arrieta, who turned 30 on Sunday, will be a free agent after the 2017 season. Other pitchers to sign long-term deals that Arrieta's camp may consider comparables include Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million entering his age-30 season), David Price (seven years, $217 million entering his age-30 season) and Zack Greinke (six years, $206.5 million entering his age-32 season).

Arrieta did talk with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during the offseason, and the right-hander said Tuesday that they did have a conversation "a little more recently."

"There's no secrets," Arrieta said of his conversations with Boras and Epstein. "We all know what's out there. I think we could have more detailed conversations."

Epstein said their talks were a "great exchange of ideas and perspectives, and the relationship between Jake and the organization couldn't be better, as far as I'm concerned."

"Maybe the talks will provide a foundation for something to get done down the road," Epstein said. "Jake has an extremely professional approach to this issue, with our support, I should say. As soon as he got to Spring Training, his biggest priority is his 24 teammates and winning as many games as he can. That's no surprise to us. He's not thinking about himself, he's thinking about the team."

Arrieta has not asked Boras or Epstein to get everything done before the right-hander starts Opening Day, April 4, against the Angels.

"We haven't set a deadline," Arrieta said. "I wouldn't like to talk a lot about it during the season. The other 24 guys in the clubhouse are more important than my contract. That will always stay the same. Financially, I'll be fine moving forward regardless of a big contract extension. Financially, it's not on the front of my mind. My family will be fine either way. We'll talk about it when we talk about it. Once April is here, I'd like to put it on the back burner for a while."

Epstein confirmed there is no timetable.

"There's no hard deadline, and there are no active talks," Epstein said. "Jake's priority is helping the team come together as a unit and preparing for the season. The last thing he wants, or we would want, is to create any type of distraction. There will be quiet moments out of the competitive spotlight in the future where it will make sense to talk again. It's not something that's going on now, or probably will as the season begins.

"Jake's going to be a Cub for the next two seasons, at a minimum," Epstein said. "We hope it's longer than that. That provides a lot of time to get something done."

On Wednesday, Arrieta will make his spring debut when he faces the Indians.

"I think we're in a good place," he said of discussions. "Everyone knows I want to stay in Chicago, but it's got to be the right deal."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.