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Staying 'home' was right for Clayton Kershaw; will it be right for Jake Arrieta?

CHICAGO -- If Chicago Cubs star Jake Arrieta is looking for advice on free agency, he can walk across the diamond this week at Wrigley Field and talk with fellow all-world pitcher Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cubs fans would undoubtedly like for Arrieta, a free agent after the 2017 season, to listen.

"Every situation is different," Kershaw said Monday afternoon. "For me there wasn't anywhere else I wanted to go. I was comfortable. I was home there [in Los Angeles]. Not to mention all the other factors. It's a great city, it's a great place to play, it's a great team and it's a great place to pitch. When you combine all those factors, it was an easy decision."

A lot of those factors are in play for the Cubs as well, but it didn't hurt that Kershaw received $215 million over seven years plus an opt-out clause from the Dodgers well before he hit free agency. That's the kind of contract Arrieta is interested in, as he previously stated "aces get seven years." Of course, Kershaw was in his mid-20s when he signed his deal. Arrieta is 30.

"The financial aspect is going to play a huge role in it. But at the end of the day, you can make the most money somewhere and [if] you're not going to be happy, it's not worth it," Kershaw said. "I definitely took that into account."

Considering the respect Arrieta has for Kershaw, maybe he'll take the advice. The Dodgers lefty is must-watch television for Arrieta, the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

"There's very few guys on my list of pitchers who, if they're pitching, I'll stop and watch. And he's No. 1 on the list," Arrieta said Monday. "Out of respect of how well he can mix four-plus pitches."

Arrieta won't get to see Kershaw up close this week; he isn't pitching during the four-game series against the Cubs after beating the Mets on Sunday night. But Kershaw will get to see Arrieta in person on Tuesday for the first time since the Cubs righty no-hit the Dodgers last August.

"He's had good stuff since he was in Baltimore," Kershaw said. "Just the ability to command the strike zone with all his pitches. The stuff has been there. Once he figured out how to throw strikes with everything -- it's been what you're seeing."

Kershaw echoed many others in expressing those sentiments about Arrieta, who will attempt to become baseball's first 10-game winner while the Cubs are looking to win a record 24th consecutive regular-season game with him on the mound.

"I'm really close to that feel and that precision I was in last season, so that's a good sign," Arrieta said. "I was about as good as I could be against St. Louis [last outing]; I just made some mistakes that cost me."

Arrieta barely made it through five innings against the Cardinals last Wednesday, giving up four runs. But if he says his stuff is there, then it comes down to execution. Despite not being as sharp this season, his numbers still jump off the page. He's second to Kershaw in ERA -- 1.72 to 1.56 -- and opposing batters are hitting .001 higher against the Dodgers lefty, .168 to .169.

"While he's searching a little bit, his numbers aren't bad," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said with a sarcastic smile. "He's going to find it and take off like he did last year."

It's way too early, but the race for Cy Young might be a two-headed monster. Kershaw has won three times already and finished third to Arrieta last season.

"He's going to go down as one of the greatest ever," Arrieta said. "He's a role model for kids.

"You learn from guys like that. As a peer of mine, I look to him for information."

But will that include contractual information?