It was a long way coming, but it now appears inevitable: the Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot will have to go to arbitration to settle on Theriot’s 2010 salary. The two sides have stopped negotiating.

Major League Baseball and the players union usually refuse to give out dates to the media in advance of arbitration hearings. The reason is both sides want the independent arbitrator to not have any knowledge or be able to research the cases they will hear. Arbitrators are given cases randomly on the day the case is heard.

Theriot’s agents are asking for $3.4 million. The Cubs’ offer was $2.6 million. Only the two sides can settle for a different salary amount.

Once the case begins, the arbitrator must pick either figure, with no exception.

Theriot made $500,000 in 2009. This will be his first year of arbitration.

The sides have cut off negotiations at this point, so it appears the case will go through the process. ESPN Chicago.

There is at least some precedent in recent years for the Cubs managing to settle with a player even after presumably heading to arbitration. A few years ago, the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano agreed to a contract literally moments before their arbitration hearing was to take place.

Here, however, if Theriot will not accept – at an absolute maximum – $3 million, the Cubs should take him to arbitration. It’s fairly sad given how much of a team player Theriot seems to hold himself out to be, but I suppose I understand wanting to get paid. And, of course, I don’t mean to suggest that a guy has to take less money than he deserves to be a “team player.” It’s just that, well, Theriot’s totally wrong in this case. And further, I think Theriot is only screwing himself into a one-way ticket out the door in 2011.

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