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Jake Arrieta has talked to Cubs about deal, wants 6-7 years

MESA, Ariz. -- National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta is looking for at least a six- to seven-year deal to remain with the club, according to the pitcher.

Arrieta and Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein recently discussed parameters for an extension, but nothing is imminent. The sides talked several times this offseason but got only a one-year, $10.7 million deal done. After that was completed, Arrieta insisted that a longer-term deal would have to be for six or seven years, as there would be no point in a three- to four-year contract that would take him only a year or two past free agency. Arrieta has two seasons remaining before he reaches free agency.

"We've talked," Arrieta said Tuesday morning from Cubs camp. "It's really not much of an issue for me as a distraction."

Arrieta, who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA last season, is more concerned with it becoming a distraction for the team, so he won't let it become a big deal as the Cubs embark on a highly anticipated season after falling short in the NLCS last year.

"Guys have reiterated not to let it bother you, and it hasn't," he said. "It's a natural progression of where I'm at in my career and what I've been able to do. It comes with the territory. It's not much of a distraction for me, and I don't want it to be a distraction for anyone in this clubhouse."

Talks don't have the same kind of urgency they might have a year from now. The pitcher stressed the "small window" that athletes have to maximize their earning, but at the same time he wouldn't say that the decision comes down exclusively to money.

"Money can only make you so happy," Arrieta said. "I love my teammates, and I love Chicago. Those are more important than the contract extension for me."

Epstein said that initial talks were a "great exchange of ideas" and could lead to something in the future.

"As soon as he got to spring training his priority was his 24 teammates and winning as many games he possibly can," Epstein said. "That's no surprise to use knowing who he is. He's thinking about the team. There will be a time down the line to think of himself again."

Although the season nears, Arrieta doesn't mind being involved in negotiations; in fact, he's at the forefront of them. Epstein and agent Scott Boras may discuss things, but Arrieta is not far from being involved.

"Both sides know I need to be in the loop, and it's pretty much unacceptable otherwise," he said.

Epstein also said that talks will not interfere with baseball.

"There will be quiet moments out of the competitive spotlight in the future where it will make sense to talk again. Its not something going on now or will as the season begins," he said.

Arrieta pitches on Wednesday in a spring game against the Cleveland Indians for the first time since winning the Cy Young Award.