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It looks like we’ll be getting a resolution on Matt Garza’s 2012 salary very soon.

Phil Rogers reports that the arbitration hearing between Garza and the Chicago Cubs is now set for this Friday, one of the first days available for arbitration hearings, which otherwise run through the third week of February. Rogers says the two sides are hopeful for a settlement, which would obviate the need for what could be a very contentious hearing.

Garza, who is in his third of four arbitration years, requested a substantial raise to $12.5 million in 2012. The Cubs offered $7.95 million. Garza made $5.95 million in 2011, which proved to be the best year of his career. If the hearing goes forward on Friday, the two sides will present their case to a panel of three arbitrators, who will pick one salary or the other. There is no middle ground. The decision usually comes the day of the hearing, or within a day or two after the hearing.

That the hearing is scheduled right at the beginning of the arbitration hearing period tells me that the Cubs – if not also Garza – were very eager to get this matter settled as quickly as possible. As I and others have previously reported, the Cubs have found it virtually impossible to conduct meaningful trade discussions about Garza while his arbitration case was still pending.

For more on Garza’s arbitration case, check out my (long) analysis of the relative merits of each side’s case. The Cubs’ case is far stronger, and I hope Garza thinks long and hard about taking this to a hearing. Theo Epstein never took a player to arbitration during his time as GM in Boston, but it would be very tempting to do so here.

Even settling at the mid-point of the request and the offer seems very generous, so I’m tempted to root for a hearing. But, given that it can be a nasty business, and given that I think Garza is the cat’s pajamas, I won’t openly root for it.

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