Cubs and Jake Arrieta reportedly have differing opinions on length of potential deal


Cubs and Jake Arrieta reportedly have differing opinions on length of potential deal

It seems the Cubs want to keep Jake Arrieta on the North Side — but maybe not for as long as the free-agent pitcher is hoping.

According to a report from FanRag's Jon Heyman, the Cubs met with Arrieta at the general manager meetings earlier this offseason. But, per Heyman, the two parties have differing ideas on how long a potential contract should be: Arrieta is said to want a lengthy six- or seven-year deal, while the Cubs would prefer to lock Arrieta up for a shorter period of time. Heyman added that the two sides probably haven't talked since.

None of that information comes as much of surprise, of course. Arrieta has been one of the National League's top pitcher over the past three seasons and is arguably the top arm on this winter's free-agent market. Guys fitting that description usually look to sign a long-term deal.

But one can certainly understand why the Cubs might be hesitating to give Arrieta that kind of contract. Arrieta, after all, will be 32 on Opening Day of the 2018 season and would be 38 in the final year of a hypothetical seven-year contract. Pitchers who retain elite status into their late 30s are few and far between.

And, as good as Arrieta's been over the past three seasons — helping the Cubs win the 2016 World Series and reach three consecutive NL Championship Series — his numbers took a bit of a downturn last season. He posted a 3.53 ERA with 163 strikeouts in 30 starts in 2017 after turning in a 3.10 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 31 starts in 2016 and a 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 33 starts during the 2015 season, when he won the NL Cy Young Award.

Still, all of those numbers are very good. The Cubs know what Arrieta can do and how important he's been to three straight playoff teams, and they have obvious needs in their starting rotation, with only Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana locked into Joe Maddon's starting five for 2018.

These are things that Theo Epstein's front office will be weighing throughout the offseason, whether revolving around talks with Arrieta, any other free-agent pitcher or in trade talks with other clubs.

For now, it appears the Cubs would like to have Arrieta back. But will the two sides resolve their differences and get a deal done? Or is there another team out there more willing to give Arrieta the kind of deal he wants? That obviously remains to be seen.

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

The MLB regular season is still 13 days away, but Willson Contreras is ready for the swings to count.

The Cubs catcher hit an absolute bomb of a homer Friday afternoon off White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, but it wasn't just a homer.

Contreras put an exclamation mark on the dinger (his third of the spring and the second this week) with an A+ bat flip:

I'm not sure what's more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.

Either way, Contreras is ready for those 2018 NL MVP votes.

Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback


Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Francisco Giants

2017 record: 64-98, last place in NL West

Offseason additions: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Julian Fernandez

Offseason departures: Michael Morse, Matt Cain, Matt Moore, Denard Span, Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo

X-factor: Brandon Belt

The trades for Longoria and McCutchen are going to get all the attention, but the Giants are sort of acquiring Belt, too. 

Their sweet-swining lefty first baseman only appeared in 104 games in 2017, missing the last few weeks of the season with a bad concussion. When he was on the field, he led the team in both homers (18) and walks (66) despite just 451 plate appearances. 

Belt has turned into one of the most patient hitters in the game and if he is able to stay healthy for a full season, would slot in perfectly in the 2-hole ahead of McCutchen, Longoria and Buster Posey. 

Projected lineup

1. Joe Panik - 2B
2. Brandon Belt - 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen - RF
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Evan Longoria - 3B
6. Hunter Pence - LF
7. Brandon Crawford - SS
8. Austin Jackson - CF

Projected rotation

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Ty Blach
5. Chris Stratton


The Giants tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2017, surprising many around the league. Absolutely nothing went right for the team, from a lack of power on the field (Belt missed a third of the season and still led the team in homers), injuries (Bumgarner only made 17 starts) and general ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon).

But the Giants are a team that excels in even years, though the Cubs may have broken that juju by knocking San Fran out of the NLDS in 2016.

Still, between the return to health of key players and some big moves that improved the lineup, this team is primed for a return to form.

Watson is a nice piece at the back end of the bullpen and bet on a rebound from Melancon, who was one of the best late-inning relievers in the game from 2013-16 (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 147 saves).

Expect more out of the rotation with Bumgarner and Cueto a dynamic 1-2 punch. Cubs fans are familiar with what Samardzija can do if he gets on a role, too.

It seems crazy to pick the Giants to finish higher than the Diamondbacks, but they still have the same core of players from the championship years and have a much-improved roster.

Prediction: Second place in NL West, wild-card team

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants