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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.

  • JulioZuleta

    Good news.

  • AP

    I’m very fond of “the Cat’s Pajamas”, but also enjoy “the Cat’s Meow”. I’m wondering if I should split my affection between the two or make a concerted effort to stick to one or the other. What do you think?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Cat’s Meow definitely has a more “classic” feel to it, and, for that reason, seems to have independent value. I say split ‘em up.

      • AP

        You’re a fountain of wisdom. Now let’s just hope we develop several more players who are both.

      • Frank

        Solomonesque.

  • Sparks

    Is there any chance that the hearing was scheduled early so Garza could be given to Boston as compensation for Epstein? Now THAT is a negative thought!

  • BetterNews

    Garza is not going anywhere. While it’s true Garzas’ request was high, it’s also true that the Cubs offer was low. Just normal bargaining in my humble opinion. I think the final outcome will be an amicable resolution with Garza getting a contract EXTENSION.

    • Matt

      The cubs offer wasn’t 4 million low, like his was 4 million high. Just saying. Won’t be long to get that deal done after that. Either the tigers before the season, or an up and comer in July.

      • BetterNews

        Matt-How many job interviews have you been too? I used to sell myself short when bargaining and always wound up on the short end. It’s much better to think high as an employee and bargain down. I’m not saying Garza is worth what he is asking for. (One can make a case that he is) But he is acting very intelligently from his position.

        • MichiganGoat

          As someone who has interviewed 1000′s of people the worse thing someone could do was set overly agressive expectations about salary. A good candidate has researched the going rate and expect someing close to that figure. Garza has overreached here and if it goes to arbitration he will look bad and that is not good for any team.

          • BetterNews

            Again, using the Jake Peavy example. If Garza is awarded 10 mil(only an example) that would be a little more than half of what Peavy made last year! Now compare the numbers(pitching wise) between the two. Just saying.

            • MichiganGoat

              Peavy’s contract is from the Padres extending him before the injurys got him. You can’t compare the two, if anything Peavy shows us why extending a pitcher can backfire.

            • Frank

              You mean if he negotiates $10 mil, right? The arbiters can only pick one of the two salary offers–they can’t make an award.

          • BetterNews

            Mg-Well as someone that has interviewed “thousands” you know there is no “ill” faith in someone that throw’s an arbitrary number out there. I have interviewed people myself(nowhere near a thousand) and didn’t laugh a purely ridiculous request, but asked how you can justify it and said here is what we can afford. Take it or leave it!

            • MichiganGoat

              It shows the the candidate did not do his homework and therefore not worth my time to consider hiring. If your job has and average salary of 30k with your level of experience you ask for 60k, it’s poor preparation. Garza is asking well above what is expected, if he won the Cy Young or a WS MVP then his numbers make sense. He should accept the Cubs offer and not let this go to arbitration- he will lose. Of course maybe that’s the plan so he will be more tradable.

        • Matt

          BetterNews – there is one thing to ask high, and another to be borderline arrogant with your asking price. There is not one person in their right mind that could make a truthful argument for his asking price with a straight face. If it was atleast closer, he would have bargaining power in arbitration.

          • MichiganGoat

            Exactly

          • BetterNews

            What? A closer has LESS bargaining position!

            • Matt

              NO!!! Closer as in the amount needed to be closer. $11 million or less they would have settled on $9 million or less. Don’t see the Cubs settling unless it is less than half. They are well aware of what it will do to his value in a trade every dollar over the asking price. He strapped himself by asking for a number he has no chance in getting. He has about as much leverage as we have in asking for a straight up trade for Soriano and no money added.

  • Sparks

    I hope you’re right!

  • Bryan

    I vote you start utilizing “the bee’s knees” as well.

  • BetterNews

    Brett- Love that picture of Garza! Staring down the batter, rubbing his goatee, saying to himself, man you’re going down(the batter). Here comes strike three!

  • Cubz99

    Hopefully if it goes to a hearing, Crane Kenney is representing the Cubs. I don’t see them losing this one.

    • BetterNews

      I heard they already applied the duct tape to Kenneys’ mouth.

  • TeddyBallGame

    I crack up everytime I read “the cat’s pajamas”, so I gotta vote for that as my single favorite quote on BN. So, everyone says these hearings can get ugly, but how ugly has it gotten?? Have players refused to re-sign with the team they went to the hearing with?? Is that allowed?? Brett, you and BN are the dog’s bollocks!!

    • Andrew

      The player really can’t refuse as long as he’s under team control. About the only thing he can do is become a pain in the butt and essentially force his team to trade him, but he’s stuck with whatever salary he’s given in arbitration. For the record – I don’t think Garza would be the kind of guy who becomes a pain in the butt.

      As far as how ugly it can get – essentially the team wins its’ case by attempting to prove that the player is worthless. You say everything about the player that makes him not worth the amount he is requesting. Needless to say, if your employer is saying to arbitrators that you are complete crap, you’re not exactly enthused about giving said employer your best efforts from that day forward…

      • BetterNews

        Andrew-It’s not a debate about a player’s worthlessness, it’s a debate about how good he is.

        • Andrew

          That’s true. But, in order for the team to win in arbitration they have to actually prove that the player is NOT worth what he thinks he is. That’s not a good spot for a team to be when you then have to come out of that meeting and try to build the player up to perform well for your team.

        • MichiganGoat

          Going to arbitration is a messy business and everyone leaves feeling dirty and shamed. Both sides will argue how worthless and wrong the other side has been over past year. It is nothing either side wants to do because feelings will be hurt and grudges will be made. If Garza loses then everytime he struggles this will be a possible reason.

          I see Garza accepting a deal or 9.5M for next year.

          • Katie

            God, that sounds like a visit to my inlaws. Well, except for the 9.5 million.

            • MichiganGoat

              Yup, it’s even worse when they are your ex-in-laws and your child has a special event at their house. Awkward.

              • Katie

                Yep, going through that. Good times.

            • BetterNews

              That sounds like asking for a raise where I work.(and the inlaws too)

  • BT

    I think the Cubs can win the hearing without actually dragging Garza through the mud. They just have to say “We love Matt, but think our offer is much more fair than his”. He is going to have a tough time justifying his 12 million dollar case.

  • Michael R

    the Cubs should just buy out his last year of arbitration and give him a 3 or 4 year contract.

    • BetterNews

      Yep, and I would lean on 4.

      • BD

        I still feel like that is the best result. I just don’t think anybody is going to give up as much for him (or close to it) as teams dropped for Latos/Gonzalez. And if we’re not getting back anyone meaningful, I’d rather keep him on the premise that it’s more difficult to find a front-line starter.

        • BetterNews

          Absolutely!

  • aCubsfan

    The Cubs need to make an example of Garza telling him that a 200% year over year increase is unacceptable. Take him to arbitration.

    • gocubbies

      I’m inclined to agree with this, but I still feel like Garza will cave and settle before the hearing.

    • Cheryl

      The last thing you want to do is make an example of Garza. If they can srtle for $9.5 milion or $9 milion before the hearing it will be beter for al concerned.

      • BetterNews

        Yep. Have to keep things in perspective. Look what Jake Peavy has done the last 2 years and he is making 16 mil!

      • aCubsfan

        Cheryl even at $9 million it is an 150% year-over-year increase which is really ridiculous. Why is a $2 million increase so bad? That’s still a huge increase, and it’s fair.

  • drew

    i say screw trying to settle play the percentages and win the case. garza at 7.5mil becomes a very attractive piece to teams. hell he becomes very attractive to the cubs at that price. DO NOT SETTLE…YOU HAVE THE UPPER HAND YOU WILL WIN THE CASE, GARZA is a big boy he will get over it

  • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

    A hearing this fast makes me wonder how advanced trade discussions are.

    • MichiganGoat

      I have just started to wonder if this huge difference is a smoke screen for Garza to be relatively cheap for 2012 and still allow Garza to still say he’s worth so much but just lost. He is then traded and gets a healthy extension. I know it’s very cloak and dagger but everything about this has been off and very odd.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        I think it was Garza saying to the team, yes, please trade me to Detroit, Texas, Toronto, Kansas City, etc… because they will be contenders as soon as this season. Oh, and I will make it easier for you by throwing the arb case.

        Players do this often enough in free agency that I don’t think it is that big of a stretch.

        • SirCub

          What I don’t get, is why does he have to “throw” the case? Why couldn’t he just accept the Cubs’ offer?

          • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

            In the off chance that the arbitor’s award him the $12M. Garza may have felt that he could have gotten $10.5 easily in a hearing and probably would have settled at $9.5 but to him $9.5 isn’t worth pitching on the Cubs in 2012 and would rather take $8M and hope to be traded to a contender.

            • SirCub

              So he basically would be saying, I’ll play for a contender for $8M, but I’ll stick with the Cubs for $12M. That would kinda suck, like, the anti-Kerry.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              It’s a very creative take. Very interesting, even if just to think about.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Yeah, I’m not quite sure I see that angle here.

    • WGNstatic

      Regarding the timing of the hearing:

      Do the Cubs/Garza have any say in when the hearing is scheduled for? Or, is it simply assigned?

      I would agree, if the sides did have a say, that would suggest that a trade may indeed be in the works. Otherwise, it would seem the sides would want as much time as possible to work out such a big gap.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I believe they can request, generally speaking, an earlier or later date. I’m reminded of when Hendry took Theriot to arbitration – it went near the last day because the Cubs were really hoping to settle.

  • curt

    split the dffrence and extend him or trade hime i mean dont we have a few more fa’s out there 2 invite spring training have we forgotten any of them , trevor miller really? and if were rebilding what do we need so many avg pitchers and infielders for just sayin i know u need depth in the minors but do really need this many past their primes or no talent journeymen were going to be awful comeon 2013

  • Daniel Guerra

    Personally, I think Garza is doing the right thing if he wants more money. I don’t see how he can lose. His numbers are through the roof besides his wins and loses which honestly shouldn’t matter much at all.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    i think he’ll get around 8.85m, either way i think we should lock him up but if were gonna trade him then we need to sign jackson even moreso now……there talking a one yr 5-6m w/boston…..thats cheap in todays market for a guy like that the cubs should jump in at 3 yrs 24m…..28yr old that eats 200 inings a yr…….hes better than all our starters right now not named garza….although i do think dempster will bounce back this yr.

  • OlderStyle

    You would think they could de-uglify the arbitration process by having each side present their cases independently of each other. That way the player and the team don’t have to hear the smear tactics of each other and the resulting bad feelings. The arbiter makes a decision and everyone goes back to work.
    Or is there an intentional disincentive to going to arbitration by the inherent messiness of it?

    • Toosh

      Excellent suggestion!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t think it’s so much about intentionally making it messy to de-incentive it, so much as it is about each side wanting to hear what the other side is arguing so that they can offer counter-arguments. And, it keeps each side honest.

  • JR 1908

    I wonder what the chances are the Cubs have a trade worked out already with a team for Garza? And the other team wants the Cubs to take Garza to arbitration and win. Then it wouldn’t matter if the Cubs piss Garza off, and he would probably be glad to go. And the new team has Garza for a great price, which helps the Cubs value. Who knows…

  • Steve

    Can I go on record and say:
    Betternews, we are aware of your opinion that you truly, definitely, most assuredly, and without a doubt don’t believe Matt Garza is going anywhere.
    You can stop voicing this as we all have that noted.

  • rcleven

    I think this is a pretty smart move on Garza’s part. Basically he is calling Epstein’s hand(kind of a put up or shut up). After a off season of will I be traded won’t I be traded
    has to be trying( how committed are the Cubs to me.) If there is a trade in the works I’m going to get my raise from who ever acquires me.

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