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Jake Arrieta and the Cubs aren't close to an extension

Thursday's Say Hey, Baseball includes the Cubs and Arrieta disagreeing on years, the underachieving Royals and the early season cushion of the White Sox.

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Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

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Jake Arrieta is pretty good at that whole pitching thing. It took him some time -- and an escape from Baltimore's notoriously inept pitcher development program -- to get to that point, but he's very obviously here and here to stay. Arrieta won the NL Cy Young in 2015, and he's been even better to begin 2016, allowing just 15 hits over his first four starts and 31 innings while averaging less than one run allowed per game. Arrieta is 30 now and won't be a free agent until 2018, but the Cubs seem happy to get him at the price they want or not at all, as the two sides are years apart on an extension.

Arrieta (and his agent, Scott Boras) are looking for a seven-year extension and asked for that very thing this offseason. The Cubs were thinking more like three or four years, which, when combined with the two seasons he still had left before free agency, would essentially be a five- or six-year deal. There are often concerns about the toll of hundreds and hundreds of big-league innings on a pitcher in their 30s, but Arrieta's failure to latch on to a big-league job for good until he got to the Cubs in 2014 means he only has 826 innings behind him despite seven seasons in the majors. He set a career-high in 2014 with 156 frames (passing the 150 he threw as a 23-year-old in the minors), then a new one in 2015 with 229, so outside of the usual risk of pitchers getting hurt at any time, there isn't anything special or worrisome about Arrieta's age or prior workload.

Even with that, though, the Cubs probably won't extend him. They might end up re-signing him when he finally does hit free agency, but it seems unlikely Theo Epstein and Co. will give Arrieta a $200 million-plus, seven-year deal with two years left to go before other teams can compete for his services. It's not the wrong move to make, either: you couldn't fault them for locking Arrieta up and believing in him, but baseball is a cruel sport and they have two more seasons of him before they need to make a decision, so they might as well minimize that risk while they can. Plus, Arrieta is a Boras client: it's not like he's going to be available at a discount because he signed early, anyway.