The Chicago Cubs and shortstop Ryan Theriot are getting ready for the team’s first arbitration hearing in 17 years because the Cubs refuse to come up from their $2.6 million offer (duh), and Theriot refuses to come down from his $3.4 million demand (crazy).

Whether the Cubs’ arbitration stalemate with the shortstop becomes a test case for two years of sagging salary market in baseball, one thing is clear: Theriot and the team are bracing for a hearing, according to sources on both sides.

Sources say the sides haven’t moved since filing salary demands/offers of $3.4 million and $2.6 million.

Barring an agreement between now and a scheduled hearing sometime in the next 19 days, the Cubs will face their first arbitration hearing since they beat Mark Grace in 1993, and one of the team’s most popular players will endure the nastiest face-to-face process built into the rules of the game – sitting at the table, across from general manager Jim Hendry, as a team representative tries to convince a three-member panel Theriot’s not as valuable as he thinks he is.

In the end, the arbitration judges must choose one figure or the other – no compromise – and the fallout could include everything from personal resentment and bruised relationships to effects on business decisions involving the player in the future.

This particular case also comes with a backdrop that includes a payroll already so close to the ceiling that Hendry sought approval from the new owners last week to exceed the limit enough to make $3.3 million outfielder Xavier Nady fit. It also includes the fact the star prospect of the system right now is shortstop Starlin Castro, who could be in line for a major league debut sometime this season if he continues to develop as fast as he did last year. Sun Times.

In addition to our own anecdotal and statistical analysis, which concludes that Theriot is not worth $3 million, let alone $3.4 million, the above article makes the point that comparing Theriot to other shortstops also fails to make his case for him.

The two most statistically comparable shortstops to have their first year of arbitration recently are Yuniesky Betancourt and Jason Bartlett. The former got $2.3 million, the latter got just $1.98 million. If Theriot got his $3.4 million, he’d be the 12th highest paid shortstop in baseball. Raise your hand if you believe Theriot is the 12th best shorstop in baseball (excluding guys with only 1 to 3 years service time)? That’s what I thought.

  • jstraw

    I find this hilarious. I think they should just non-tender his mediocre ass if 2.6 mil doesn’t float his boat. He can be replaced for less than that.

    • Ace

      Unfortunately they’ve already tendered a contract. No dice for 2010.

  • Kevib G

    As much as I like Theriot he is really losing points with me. I mean I would love to make 2.6 million, but I wont. He is being greed and it not like he had a great year last year. This is coming from the man the has defended Theriot to anyone who as bad mouthed him online that I could find. I am very disappointed.

  • roadunner9779

    I think what he is asking for in ridiculous considering that orlando cabrera who is a proven shortstop and leadoff hitter is signed for essentially 2 years 3 million per year. If theriot gets 3.4 mil this year he will end up making 4million next year. I have always liked him. But he is below average at. His position and he makes to. Many mental mistakes . I think he should trade him for a pitcher and give andres blanco a chance at short. Blanco is 100 times better defensively and I think would still put up better offensive numbers. Also he is a switch hitter. Trust me theriot is one of my fav players but he is below average in talent, and makes up for it with scrappiness.

    • Ace

      I mostly agree, road, but OCab hasn’t done much at the plate the last couple of years.