For those that don’t know, each team has control over a player for his first six seasons of professional experience (which can be broken up into smaller chunks – in other words, a guy doesn’t become a free agent until he’s accumulated more than six total seasons’ worth of Major League service time). Subject to some exceptions, in years four through six, the player is eligible for arbitration, and his salary – if not agreed upon by the parties – is decided through the arbitration process. Teams and players usually settle long before that, though.
For guys who are in their first three years – and on the 40-man roster – the team may, essentially, pay them whatever they want, subject to the Major League minimum salary. When those players are given a contract for the year, they are said to be “renewed.” Players tend to get a token raise as they go along in those first three years, but teams are not obligated to pay a player “what he’s worth.” Or even half that amount. Or, in Mike Trout’s case, even 1/30th the amount. That is the collectively-bargained setup in baseball, and all sides have agreed to it.
Today, the Cubs renewed all of their pre-arbitration players, 21 in all. That includes:
- Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack.
- Left-handed pitchers Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood.
- Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger.
- Infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins.
- Outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur.
Although the Cubs did not announce the terms of the renewals, a few were tweeted: Darwin Barney’s getting $562,000, Travis Wood is getting $527,500, Welington Castillo is getting $503,000, and Anthony Rizzo is getting $498,000. That’s usually the range you see these guys in, and it’s also why it can be a good idea for pre-arb players to sign extensions to try and cash in now (and the team, in return, might save a lot of money through those arbitration years).