With a few more playoff ‘nuts,’ is Arrieta the next free agent Lester?
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LOS ANGELES — When Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta hits the free-agent market in the next few weeks, agent Scott Boras figures to have the top available postseason starter to offer to the highest bidder.
‘‘He’s a squirrel that’s got a lot of nuts in his tree,’’ Boras said of Arrieta, whose next start in what likely will be his last postseason with the Cubs will come in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
But might Boras be bringing the next Jon Lester to market for a young, talented team that expects to turn the corner on its rebuild? A player who brings credibility and promise to a team that needs the buy-in from young, developing players to take the next step?
And what might that be worth? Lester got six years and $155 million from the Cubs, who have been repaid for their investment with three consecutive appearances in the NLCS.
‘‘I think it’s the reality of the willingness of the player to take his time to communicate with players,’’ Boras said, comparing Arrieta’s value to what Lester did for the Cubs. ‘‘If you talk to [Kyle] Hendricks and you go talk to the younger pitchers that are there, is Jake available to them? Is he there? Is he that guy in addition to his performance? Guys can perform like No. 1s, but the leadership dynamic is different than talent.
‘‘I think it’s rather obvious that Jake has a big-game cool about him. It’s something that players want to learn about and know about. He proved it in the  World Series. He also has a logic about him. When Jake gets hit and he has a rough outing, he always has that same cool to come back and focus on the positives rather than what occurred. He has resiliency.’’
It’s hard to imagine the Cubs having close to the success they have had the last three seasons without Arrieta — or Lester, for that matter.
And as Arrieta raised his profile — and price tag — beyond the range the Cubs likely will be willing to pay, his influence likely will continue to be felt through Hendricks, Mike Montgomery and other young pitchers.
Never mind what he might mean for those at his next stop, just think Lester. Boras certainly has.
‘‘Jon Lester is a big-game winner,’’ Boras said. ‘‘He came to the Cubs as a big-game winner. He’s a great postseason pitcher. He has that résumé.’’
Rondon in, Wilson out
The Cubs considered adding an extra pitcher to their NLCS roster, manager Joe Maddon said, but they eventually decided to make only one change. They removed left-handed reliever Justin Wilson and added right-handed reliever Hector Rondon.
With Dodgers lefty-hitting shortstop Corey Seager out for the series because of a bad back, the Cubs saw less need for the extra lefty in the pen. Plus, Rondon provides insurance early in the series for closer Wade Davis.
Rondon entered Game 1 in the sixth inning and immediately served up a tiebreaking home run to Chris Taylor that gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.
The Cubs firmed up their NLCS rotation plans with no surprises. Lester will pitch Sunday in Game 2, Hendricks on Tuesday in Game 3 and Arrieta on Wednesday in Game 4.
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