Cubs will explore long-term deal for Jake Arrieta


Cubs will explore long-term deal for Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta understands getting traded here changed the trajectory of his career and helped transform him into a leading Cy Young Award candidate. Now the Cubs will try to secure his future in Chicago.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein confirmed those plans to at least test the waters with super-agent Scott Boras and see what it would take to sign Arrieta to a long-term contract.

“He’s a Cub for next season. He’s a Cub for 2017,” Epstein said during Thursday’s end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field. “I’m sure there will come a point in time where we’ll approach Jake and (Scott) about seeing if we can extend that window. We’d be foolish not to want to do that.”

There won’t necessarily be a sense of urgency for either side in whatever shape those negotiations take — due diligence, trial balloon or something more serious.

The Cubs could prioritize acquiring another frontline starter to join Arrieta and Jon Lester at the top of the rotation after getting swept out of the National League Championship Series by the New York Mets.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs would like to add ‘at least one quality starting pitcher’]

MLB Trade Rumors recently projected Arrieta will earn $10.6 million through the arbitration system next year. Philosophically, Boras hates club-friendly deals and loves to steer his clients onto the open market.

“I like it here,” Arrieta said. “I want to compete. I want to win. And I want to win with a good group of guys — young players.

“That’s the direction this organization is going.”

Arrieta feels like the ball is in the front office’s court after going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and putting up almost 250 innings this year, including a complete-game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild-card game.

“We’re not going to talk about it publicly,” Epstein said. “But of course we’ll sit down and try and see what happens. More than anything, we’re 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.”

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Arrieta responded to pitching coach Chris Bosio, who let him be himself after getting traded from the Baltimore Orioles in the middle of the 2013 season, a sink-or-swim moment for essentially a Triple-A pitcher.

As a freethinker with interests outside of baseball, Arrieta also appreciates manager Joe Maddon, a loose clubhouse, what Chicago has to offer and how the Cubs are positioned to annually win 90-plus games.

Arrieta will be 32 years old by 2018, though Boras will point to an obsessive strength-and-conditioning program, as well as a pitching odometer that’s only around 815 major-league innings to this point.

Before Arrieta threw a no-hitter on Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium in front of a national-television audience, Boras compared him to another client — Max Scherzer, who once reportedly turned down a six-year, $144 million offer to extend with the Detroit Tigers and ultimately landed a seven-year, $210 million megadeal from the Washington Nationals last winter.

“(Jake) handled the breakthrough and the dominance with such class,” Epstein said. “(He did it) in such a generous, inclusive manner that I think it set the tone for the whole team (by) including all of his teammates after the no-hitter. And as he got all the attention down the stretch, deflecting it to the team as a whole.

“That set an amazing tone. We were really thankful for that, as well as what he did on the mound. His mindset of always trying to get better — despite being at the top — really rubbed off on everybody and will continue for years to come.”

Bold predictions for the Cubs' 2019-20 offseason


Bold predictions for the Cubs' 2019-20 offseason

The Cubs are just a couple of weeks away from a pivotal offseason that could see a lot of change coming to Chicago's North Side.

Then again, we thought the same thing a year ago and it turned out Theo Epstein's biggest move last winter was signing Daniel Descalso to a two-year deal.

But after missing the playoffs in 2019, the Cubs are now at a crossroads as an organization. 

The NBC Sports Chicago crew previewed the offseason on the latest CubsTalk Podcast with some bold predictions for the winter.

Listen here and check out the fearless calls below:

(Note: Rationale and more context on each bold prediction in the podcast.)

David Kaplan

1. Cubs are going to take a page out of the Yankees' book and retool on the fly rather than go all-in to contend in 2020.
2. Jose Quintana has thrown his last pitch as a Cub.
3. This will be the second-to-last offseason for Theo Epstein as the Cubs president of baseball operations.

Kelly Crull 

1. Cubs re-sign Nick Castellanos and trade away Kyle Schwarber.
2. Tyler Chatwood will be in the 2020 rotation.
3. John Lackey will be named quality assurance coach on David Ross's coaching staff. (Kidding, but only kind of...)

Tony Andracki

1. Before the Cubs play a Spring Training game, Javy Baez will sign an extension that will keep him in Chicago through at least 2023.
2. Willson Contreras will be traded this winter and the Cubs will get some much-needed pitching help in return.
3. Cubs sign Howie Kendrick this winter as the professional bat and lefty-masher they craved in 2019.
4. Ben Zobrist will return on a one-year deal and finish his playing career in a Cubs uniform.
5. David Bote, Albert Almora Jr. and Addison Russell will all be traded or non-tendered this winter as the Cubs remake their bench/depth.

Jeff Nelson

1. Willson Contreras will sign a contract extension.
2. Ben Zobrist will return as a player/coach.
3. Jose Quintana will be traded for minor league depth.
4. Terrance Gore will be signed to be the 26th man on the roster under the new rules.

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

USA Today

Theo Epstein’s dog damages Arizona rental property with excessive urine

In the midst of an intensive hiring process for the new Cubs manager, Theo Epstein is being sued by an Arizona couple claiming Epstein’s dog, Winston, damaged their house. The cause of damage? Peeing excessively inside the property Epstein rented for spring training in 2015.

Yes, you read that right, Epstein’s dog peed so much he’s being sued.

The lawsuit was filed this Tuesday in Maricopa County, according to the Phoenix New Times, citing Epstein’s dog left “a terrible odor and urine-stained carpeting” in the Paradise Valley, Ariz., home where he and his family stayed.

Winston is a rescue mutt, weighing in at around ten pounds. He can’t pee that much, right?

The lawsuit states the dog "peed prolifically in the $1 million house, staining tile and stone flooring, wood door jams, cabinets, and furniture."

John and Mary Valentino referenced a 2017 quote by Epstein as proof that Winston had a peeing problem. When asked about being named the world’s greatest leader by Fortune magazine after the Cubs 2016 World Series win, Epstein said: “I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house.”

Epstein left the rental property two weeks early due to a scorpion infestation later was shown a repair estimate of $51,405, according to the report.

Julian Green, the Cubs vice president of communications, told the New Times the lawsuit was “baseless.” He also said that an exterminator discovered 45 scorpions on the property that “put (Epstein’s) family at risk every time they put their children to sleep.” The Epsteins moved into a different house for the last two weeks of spring training.

The owners kept the $5,000 security deposit, and according to a source the Epsteins did not hear from them again for more than four years until the suit was filed Tuesday.

When asked about the lawsuit, Epstein replied, “As I said, we have no untouchables. Winston is definitely available in the right trade.”

We’ll be keeping tabs on this story as it unfolds. In the meantime, it’s good to see Epstein still has a sense of humor, even with a dog urine lawsuit and a Cubs managerial search on the line.

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