(CBS) It was a belief that most in baseball and outside observers hold, but to hear it from the mouth of Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought a measure of sadness for Chicagoans.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta's time with the Cubs is likely over as he has hit free agency.
"Jake's probably gone," Maddon said in an interview on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Friday afternoon.
The free-agent market to date has been halted for a variety of reasons, but the Cubs continue to operate as if Arrieta won't return. Arrieta wants a six- or even seven-year deal, according to many reports. The Cubs have no desire to invest in Arrieta for that long, as he's set to turn 32 in March.
Even if Arrieta signs a deal in the range of four or five years, other suitors may price the Cubs out.
Arrieta was 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP last season. Acquired in a July 2013 trade from the Orioles, Arrieta was a leading force in the Cubs' rise to prominence that was highlighted by a 2016 championship, which included him winning two starts in the World Series. And he was at his best in 2015, when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and won the National League Cy Young.
"His approach to the game, his life rubs off on others," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in October. "Truthfully, it really rubbed off on the whole organization and helped get us to another level."
The Cubs have turned their attention to right-hander Alex Cobb in free agency, and Maddon expects it to be a busy offseason again.
"As active as we've always been -- our guys are always looking to make things better," Maddon said.
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