Arrieta Arbitration Process Likely to Break Records

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It has certainly been a whirlwind year for the Chicago Cubs ace, and now that we are a few short days away from pitchers and catchers reporting, that crazy year could end in a record fashion. It is now being suggested that the Jake Arrieta arbitration talks will result in the highest salary jump for a pitcher in arbitration history, according to Bruce Levine.

Jake Arrieta earned $3.63 million in 2015, a season which he set a MLB record for ERA after the All-Star break (0.73), paced the league in wins (22), and won the NL Cy Young award. Even the fans who are most outraged at player salaries can see Jake was worth more than $3.63 M in today’s baseball economy.

The Cubs and Jake are scheduled to state their cases to an arbitrator on Tuesday of next week, and both sides have promised to ensure this is a business thing, and will not take any of the process personal. This is good as if this goes to the hearing the team basically points out every possible flaw in the player’s game to prove why he isn’t worth the salary figure he and his agent submitted. This is an ugly process and no player, team, nor agent enjoys going through it.

Luckily, the Cubs franchise or Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer have ever gone to an actual hearing without by reaching an agreement. Additionally, Levine feels the team and Arrieta are nearing a deal and it would break records.

David Price currently owns the biggest jump in salary through the arbitration process. His leap from $4.35 to $11.25 million was a bump in salary of $6.9 million. Arrieta has submitted a salary of $13 million, while the Cubs submitted a figure of $7.5 M.

It was estimated the Arrieta would earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $11 M in arbitration, which would put him at the $7 M increase. Scott Boras could want to stick to their guns, as Levine suggests, but even in this case it would be expected that the deal would still be completed by the end of the weekend.

There is another very interesting plot twist to this. There is still rumor that a long-term deal could be on the table for the Cubs and Arrieta. A deal, as Jake puts it, “is absolutely possible,” and both sides have some incentive to get it completed.

“It is a possibility, and I would like to see where it goes, “Arrieta said. “Maybe something will get done.”

This would more than likely be a six year deal worth in the neighborhood of $25 M per season. While on an open market Jake could possibly fetch north of $30 M (see Price and Zack Greinke) taking a deal this offseason earns him more over the course of the next six years than waiting two years to strike a free agent mega deal.

The way things are progressing, not only will this Arrieta contract conversation be mute very soon, he could be in the long term mix for several years to come.