Cubs, Arrieta headed toward tense contract showdown; amazing Scherzer stats

Last winter, the Chicago Cubs had an opportunity to sign one of the best pitchers on the market in David Price, a Cy Young Award-winning 30-year-old left-hander with pristine reputation as a good teammate and a hard worker.

But the early offseason read in the Cubs' front office is that the Boston Red Sox would be desperate in their pursuit of Price, compelled by back-to-back last-place finishes and a need for a pitcher who could lead their rotation. The Cubs were in the bidding for Price, but really, they weren't close to landing a pitcher they cherished; the Red Sox crushed the field with a $217 million offer. The Cubs have lots of money to spend, yes, but a regime led by the battle-scarred Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is probably not going to extend itself to where salary sanity might be questioned -- especially for an older pitcher.

That means that if and when Jake Arrieta becomes a free agent after the 2017 season, in another incredibly weak market of starting pitchers, the Cubs probably won't chase him with a blank check. Arrieta will probably get higher offers from other teams, and unless Arrieta fudges at least a little on his pronouncement that he won't give the Cubs a discount, he almost certainly will be pitching elsewhere in 2018 -- which is absolutely his right.