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Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration with one-year, $15.637 million deal

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The Cubs reportedly agreed to a one-year, $15.3675 million deal with right-hander Jake Arrieta on Friday, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. Arrieta is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, and Carrie Muskat of MLB.com points out that only the Nationals’ Max Scherzer received a higher raise for a third-year-eligible starter, at $8.8 million in 2014.

Arrieta, 30, followed a career-best performance in 2015 with an 18-8 record, 3.10 ERA and 3.8 fWAR over 197 1/3 innings in 2016. His strikeout rate dipped from a 9.3 SO/9 to 8.7, while his walk rate hit a 3.5 BB/9 clip, nearly double that of his previous season totals. Although he was unable to successfully defend his 2015 Cy Young title, Arrieta delivered his second career no-hitter against the Reds in April and pitched to a 3.63 ERA over 22 1/3 innings during the Cubs’ championship run.

If any extension talks have progressed this month, as Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, hinted they would back in December, nothing has been publicized just yet. The Cubs have yet to confirm the settlement.

Red Sox to extend protective netting at Fenway Park in 2018

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The Red Sox are the latest team to extend the protective netting at their ballpark this winter. According to a statement by club president Sam Kennedy, the exact dimensions of the netting have yet to be determined, but it will likely stretch “all the way to Field Box 79, down the left field line and then all the way down to almost Canvas Alley in the Field Box 9 area.”

Fenway Park received additional protective netting prior to the 2016 season, when the netting behind home plate was lengthened to the home and visitor dugouts. Per Kennedy’s statement, the current expansion should cover everything but the outfield corners, making it nearly impossible for a line drive foul to reach fans in the lower boxes.

After a toddler sustained serious injuries from a 105-MPH foul ball to the face at Yankee Stadium last September, over half of all MLB teams decided to take more extreme preventative measures in advance of the 2018 season. The Brewers, Cardinals, Braves, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Rangers, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Reds, Blue Jays, Giants, Yankees, Twins and Indians are among the organizations to address the issue over the last several years, while others have yet to take significant action.