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jeff samardzija gatorade showerThe Chicago Cubs have two unsigned arbitration-eligible players remaining, Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija. While the former has gone largely undiscussed so far this arbitration season, the latter is drawing understandably considerable attention. The split between Barney’s ask ($2.8 million) and offer ($1.8 million) is not particularly large, and his long-term role on the Cubs is in doubt. The split between Samardzija’s ask ($6.2 million) and offer ($4.4 million) is considerable, and there is a clear desire by both sides to be together for many more years – if the money makes sense for both sides. That’s why this arbitration seems to take on an additional layer of interest, and why it seems all the more important that an agreement is reached in advance of having to actually arbitrate.

On that point, Bruce Levine reports that an arbitration date has been set for the Cubs and Samardzija: February 10, which is a week from today.

Perhaps having a date approaching will be what it takes to get a deal done. This front office doesn’t generally go to arbitration, and recall that they settled with Matt Garza on the eve of his arbitration two years ago.

For his part, on Friday, Samardzija described the negotiations as a “process” in an interview with McNeil and Speigel on the Score. He said everyone is on good terms, and the sides are talking “all the time.”

On those negotiations, I was surprised at the volume of folks who saw the reported $100,000 gap in negotiations and ripped the Cubs for being cheap and not getting a deal done.

Setting aside the fact that this was just one report, and also setting aside the fact that $100,000 isn’t nothing (and translates to an additional $200,000 to $300,000 next year in Samardzija’s final arbitration turn), we have no idea how the negotiations are going. That the sides haven’t yet agreed doesn’t mean things are ugly, or that each side really is digging in over $100,000. For all we know, this is simply a product of how the negotiation has proceeded (“If you come up $X, we’ll come down $Y,” and the sides keep squeezing to the middle), and everyone understands and accepts that it’s just a process (as Samardzija, himself, implied). There could also be matters of incentives, bonuses, options, etc. being negotiated at the same time, so, while the two sides might technically be “just” $100,000 apart, there could be other matters holding things up, as well.

And, hey, maybe each side is keeping negotiations open for as long as possible on the slim chance that a long-term agreement can be reached.

While that definitely isn’t likely, what remains very likely is that the two sides will agree to a deal for 2014 before the arbitration hearing next week.

  • Jon

    It’s one thing to dumpster dive on the Jnson Hammell’s, Scott Baker’s, Ian Stewart’s of the world, but I don’t see the point on doing that, and then on the flip side nickle and diming Samardzija over 1.8 million ? Why not bring some goodwill between the originization and Shark and give him close to what he wants? The longer this drags out and approaches the hearing, the less positive, in my book.

    • mjhurdle

      That could be the first time I have ever seen either 1.8 million or a 70% raise in salary referred to as “nickel and diming”. Amazing.

      • Jon

        When you consider the context of a near billion dollar organization, that term is appropriate.

        • mjhurdle

          When you consider it in the context of an MLB Arbitration process, the term is inappropriate.

          Not too mention, even if you consider it through the lens of a business organization, it isn’t appropriate to simply hand out 1.8 million or 140% raises just to garner goodwill and happy thoughts.

          • Jon

            And not all Arbitration processes are the same.

            I is appropriate when you consider the fact that clearly Samardzija is worth 6.2 million on the open market and your ultimate goal should be a contract extension.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Just to be sure I understand: you think the Cubs are doing something poorly?

              • D-Rock

                No way- Jon thinks the Cubs are doing something poorly?

            • cubsfan08

              But if you give in that easily to his demands when the organization actually has equal leverage (arbitration) what would you expect to happen when trying to negotiate his free agent years. Wouldn’t it be easy for Jeff to say “hey, they caved during arbitration – they should have no issue just giving me 25m/year going forward.” Poor precedent to set if you ask me.

            • mjhurdle

              Lets look at both scenarios and assume that Shark has a good, but not great season next year.
              If the Cubs pay him 4.4 million this year and both sides present the same % of raise next Arbitration, then next year the Cubs number is 7.48 million.
              If the Cubs pay him 6.2 million this year, next year Shark is going to ask for 14.88 million.

              So the difference this year is 1.8 million, the difference next year is 7.4.
              Unfortunately, you can’t view these things in the “i like Shark, pay him what he wants because it is only 1.8 million and the Cubs have enough money” vacuum. What the figure is set this round directly affects the cost next year as well.
              It also affects the cost of extending Shark. If he makes a total of 13 million the next two years, then you may be able to buy them out at 17 million in an extension before giving him FA money for however many extra years after that the extension is for. If he is making a total of 21 million the next 2 years, then the price to buy them out just went up.
              It also affects trading Shark. The lower his cost, the more attractive he is in a trade.
              So, even though we all just want Shark to be happy, it makes perfect sense why the Cubs would do what they can to keep his cost down when they have leverage.

    • Cizzle

      Jon,
      How many multimillion dollar negotiations have you been a part of?
      If you are as much of an expert as you put on, I’m sure some organization would love to have you…but they probably wouldn’t like to hear you use the words just “give him what he wants”.

      • brainiac

        i agree that if we don’t sign shark the cubs will have continued to sink the ship even further, claiming it will get the crew closer to shore. but shark has a point – why in the world should a very strong #3 starter sign as a #1 with a team with no plans to improve over the tenure of his next contract?

        so the man wants to be paid more for his services. and the cubs have to pay him, or the next guy, a little bit over market value so that the team seems viable and serious. we know they wont over the next 3 years. maybe after theo leaves for another team the owners will be embarrassed enough to act.

      • Jon

        May I ask how multimillion dollar negotiations you have been a part of?

        • brainiac

          i’ve never negotiated a contract, but i did get a really good deal on my car insurance

        • Cizzle

          Being an accountant in Aspen, I’m privy to multimillion dollar negotiations every week. I’ve been there with Billionaires who “nickel and dimed” closings for less than $10,000. Never once have I ever heard someone say “just give him what he wants”…they’d be fired.

          • Jon

            Baseball players and MLB Arbitration’s aren’t piece of real estate(closings).

            • Cizzle

              So negotiations over real estate contracts (or business sales contracts, or construction bid contracts, or manufacturing contracts) are materially different than negotiations over a baseball contract???

              Just shows how little you actually know.

              • Jon

                Yes, Professional sports contracts involving professional athletes are a bit different. But continue to brag about your job if you like……

                • Cizzle

                  I’m not bragging about my job. I’m trying to get an uniformed individual to stop talking out of his ass about something he doesn’t know anything about.

                  • Jon

                    But your real world references don’t do anything to do that. I might as well have a store manager of Avis brag about all the car rental agreements he has negotiated.

                    • Abe Froman

                      Oh Jon.

                    • Cizzle

                      Yeah, well if you could have an AVIS manager talk about the $100,000 write off he gave which he was able to parlay into a multimillion dollar contract, then you might have a point. Otherwise here is what’s wrong with your logic:
                      -The Cubs won’t give Samardzjia $100k hoping that it will give them goodwill in future negotiations. You don’t just give away anything unless you are getting something back in writing.
                      – Samardzjia won’t give the Cubs a few million dollar discount on his future contract because they caved on $100k in his 2014 salary.

                      To think that this negotiation will have any meaningful effect on his extension is asinine.

                    • salesguy

                      I’ve dealt with those folks from Avis when in airports, ruthless killers if you ask me. *****shudders, gets wide eyed faraway stare*******

          • 5412

            Hi,

            I wrote a book and taught the subject for 30 years. The last 1% always gets hairy because ego gets involved. You are right. The will get it right even if the Cubs up their offer, Samardzija may agree to donate it to Cubs Care. It is no longer about money at this point.

            Makes kittle difference, the process is the same.

            Regards,
            5412

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’ve been a part of several, back in the day, for whatever that’s worth to you.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            Well, for the most part the comments have calmed down since we went to logging in.

  • Vincenzo

    Samardzija is asking 41% higher then offer which is less than Barney’s asking is 56% higher than the offer so I don’t know what you’re talking about. Regardless how can this team pay Edwin Jackson 13 M/yr, Jason Hammel 6M/yr and let’s not forget Scott Baker 5.5M for last yr but have an issue with paying Samardzija 6M. Makes no sense.

    • Norm

      Makes perfect sense. Samardzija is arbitration eligible. Those other guys are not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Samardzija is asking 41% higher then offer which is less than Barney’s asking is 56% higher than the offer so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

      $1.8 million > $1 million. Hope that helps.

      (Using percentages in this context doesn’t make a ton of sense – are you suggesting that finding a settlement between an offer of one dollar and an ask of two dollars would be more difficult than an offer of $15 million and $20 million?)

      • Vincenzo

        Bingo.

      • 5412

        Hi Brett,

        When they submit their number to arbitration, aren’t they blind bids? By that I mean they may have spoken and tried to work it out but when the numbers are submitted, each side does not know the other side’s number until after submission.

        So the fact that one has a higher spread than another, is just the luck of the draw.

        Brett, isn’t that how it works?

        regards,
        5412

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The sides have been negotiating for a while before they exchange, so I think they have a pretty good idea of where they’re going to submit (indeed, threats of where they might submit are probably used as leverage by both sides in the negotiations).

          But, to your point, no, it’s not just luck of the draw – a first-time eligible utility guy is going to have a much smaller spread than a third-time eligible ace.

          • 5412

            Hi Brett,

            Let me elaborate on what I meant. Let’s say that they are negotiating and a player’s agent is pushing for $6 million as an example. When they go to arbitration, the judge has to pick one number or the other, he cannot cut the baby in half.

            So an agent may be shooting for $6 million, but realizing that if he submits a number too high, he could lose in the hearing so he may drop it down feeling he can build a strong case to support his number.

            It happens in reverse on the side of the team. They may be pushing $4.5 million for example. They too know that one of the two numbers must be picked. Good chance they may up their offer for arbitration feeling they can build a good case.

            As an agent, that would be when the real negotiations take place.

            The only time I can remember Hendry going to arbitration was with Theriot and he was gone by the end of the season. Theriot left and I think got two world series rings before he retired.

            regards,
            5412

  • cubs2003

    Kind of a weird question, but can a team choose to release a player after they lose an arbitration hearing, or is the contract then guaranteed? For instance, if the Cubs like Barney at 1.8 but don’t think he’s worth 2.8, can they release him if they lose the hearing? Just curious.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Can be released for 30 days’ termination pay, but the release has to be for “baseball reasons.” Which is to say, you can’t release a guy because you think he’s making too much money. It has to be because you don’t believe he’s even worth a spot on the roster. In Barney’s case, the would be fought by the union, and they’d have a good argument. Won’t happen.

      • cubs2003

        What constitutes baseball reasons? Like, if he breaks his leg at home and can’t play for the better part of the season or something?

        • hansman

          That wouldn’t fly either (was brought up frequently with Ian Stewart).

          He would have to be healthy and just performing like dog crap.

          • cubs2003

            Gotcha. Thanks. I kind of assumed as much, but I don’t know a lot about this stuff.

          • Boogens

            “That wouldn’t fly either (was brought up frequently with Ian Stewart).
            He would have to be healthy and just performing like dog crap.”

            On second thought maybe it would apply to Stewart. ;-)

      • mjhurdle

        So if the Cubs went through Arbitration with Barney, and his contract was set at 2.8, and then the Cubs dropped him (assuming they found a way to rationalize it so that the union didn’t get mad), does a team interested in signing Barney have to honor that 2.8 million from his arbitration with the Cubs? or can the team interested offer him more/less?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          They could sign him for anything they wanted. Cubs would have paid him his 30 days pay, and he’d be a true free agent.

          • mjhurdle

            ahh, makes sense. thanks

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            By the way, sort of related to this is why guys with arbitration contracts sometimes surprisingly accept an outright assignment to the minors – if they didn’t, they’d lose their contract. Free agent, yes, but not likely to make as much from another team.

            (At least I believe that’s the way it works for those guys – happened with Blake DeWitt.)

  • DCF

    Not to rip anybody, but for an MLB team $100,000 is in fact nothing. And whatever the state of the negotiations might be, I can’t believe for a second that it’s about a measly hundred grand.

    • Jon

      yep, 100K is James McDonald, or whoever is the next bum off the street they sign.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If only I’d entertained that possibility in this very post.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      DCF – $100,000K isn’t nothing (and as was explained above it can lead to exponential salary growth the following arb years)

      Also, there is a maximum value after which the Cubs should not give in. They may have already passed their target for this guy by 500K…who really knows. So it isn’t just a matter of going 100K above the current offer, they may have to go 600K above what they think they should to settle with him.

      As was mentioned in an earlier article, Atlanta is going towards true arbitration with some of their players, finding that they may keep their cost down. When teams settle they are generally settling on the higher side of what they would get with an arbitrator probably chosing the lower $ amount more often (don’t have the Atlanta reference for you…maybe someone could help with that).

      This does a couple of things for the team, including keeping the players early arb years cheaper, possibly leading to more money insecurity for the player which may lead more of them to sign the extension with the team at a lower rate to lock in some dollars. One in the hand is worth two in the bush after all.

  • ViennaCubs

    There is a strategy here that is often overlooked. If you think you can sign Jeff to long-term, perhaps you are a little more generious in negotiations. If you believe he will not resign, this year is about creating extra value. The Cubs by holding is contract value lower this year will affect next year’s valuatons. Therefore, in terms of aquiring assets for Jeff, the perceived contract value over two years will increase the return the Cubs can demand in a trade. The two year contact value looks to be a significant value over the market rate and will make him more attractive to potential buyers.

    • ViennaCubs

      oops I meant, “holiding his contract valure…” I am sorry about the typo.

    • Jon

      The problem with that theory, is that the Rays, who have abandoned all hope it appears of an extension, didn’t bat an eye when giving Price 14 million in arbitration.

      • CubFan Paul

        “didn’t bat an eye when giving Price 14 million in arbitration”

        They Rays owe Price $4M in deferred 2013 salary too…

        No one will care until Rosenthal reports it though.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Given that the Rays are a trial and file team, they settled on the eve of the deadline. The Cubs and Samardzija might well do the same. We know nothing of the Rays/Price negotiations – where each side started, who said what, etc. They may feel like they got a great deal.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Still no interest in Bonaficio? Timing is perfect with Barney hearing near

  • CubFanBob

    Agreed, that speed would look good in the line up. Since he is on waivers cant the Cubs just claim him ?

    • CubFan Paul

      I wonder if they would take Barney in return.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Shark is worth less than half of what he’s paid now. Wake me up after back to back 15 win seasons

    • D-Rock

      Hard for any pitcher on this current Cubs team to win 15 games. There is a lot more to a good pitcher than Wins and Losses.

  • jschwei17

    Calm down! Braves and Kimbrel are over $2 mil apart. The business side is if you overpay by a million this year, it could lead to overpaying by $2-3 mil next year.

  • VanceLawblawsLawBlog

    This CAN’T BE HAPPENING. My gawd, the Cubs are just the absolute worst, by trying to be a smart operation and not cave to his demands. Looooosers. They are looooosers. What a bum organization.

    /Sarcasm
    //Settle down, it’s February

  • CubsFaninMS

    Samardzija Schmamardzija. The big question moving into 2014. If we extend him, we can picture this 2015 rotation…

    1. Justin Masterson/Max Scherzer/James Shields
    2. Jeff Samardzija
    3. Travis Wood
    4. Edwin Jackson
    5. Jake Arrieta/Kyle Hendricks/Neil Ramirez

    If we acquire two high-caliber arms in the 2014 off season, there’s a high probability we will have a very solid rotation. In 2015, we will likely be showcasing Bryant, Baez, Alcantara, and Soler. I would project at least two of those become Major League regulars or a star, although expecting immediate production from them in the big leagues is asking for too much. 2015 could get very interesting indeed or it could be another tank season. We will see. What year will be the “turn this ship around” year for the front office? 2014 apparently doesn’t look to be that year.

    • Jon

      Cross Scherzer off that list. Add Bailey though(crosses fingers)

  • Fastball

    Pretty simple negotiation. Shark you are X% higher on your arbitration offer than the highest payout on any case in the last X number of years. We are willing to be above the mid range on your bump. But you have to come back with a number that we can live with. We are not in business to set records for arbitration settlements. I do some extremely large corporate contracts. We don’t do a lot of haggling. You come with your deal we come with ours. You get one swing at getting your revised numbers back to me. I am prepared to go all the way but its not in the best interest of our business partnership to be in that situation. Shark will be happy and the Cubs will be happy with how this settles out. These agents are usually smart enough to not muddy the waters. It never works out for their player in the long run.

  • TulaneCubs

    A whole lot of people in this thread that I’m glad never have to negotiate anything on my behalf.

  • CubsFaninMS

    People always freak out during….

    (1) Arbitration time (OMG, will they come to an agreement??)

    (2) Draft time (OMG, will he sign??)

    • mjhurdle

      I love #2. I remember all the belly-aching this year about Bryant signing and some people saying that, because he didn’t take less money, he was not a team player and had a bad attitude :)

      • Edwin

        We love our players, unless they want to be paid with money.

        • hansman

          Why can’t they all just get paid in Gum?

          • mjhurdle

            Because the exchange rate on gum makes that idea unattractive. The pallets of gum that would have to be transported is a logistical nightmare.

            Now Almond Joys on the other hand have an amazingly good exchange rate. One 24 pack might be enough to lock Shark down for 5 years.

            • hansman

              Offer a 24-pack of Almond Joys to Shark??? Do you never want to sign another free agent, draft signing or IFA AGAIN???

              Every player in the major leagues would demand an NTC with the Cubs on it. All of our prospects would refuse call-up. The Rooftops would close down. Theo would walk out the back door in a gorilla suit. Cats would no longer think of humans as a lesser being.

              WE’D RUN OUT OF PLAYERS IN A WEEK!!!

              • half_full_beer_mug

                Well then, what are they waiting for?

          • Boogens

            Because Wrigley doesn’t own the team any longer.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Yes, it was hard to forget! After you see the same process repeatedly every year, you have a tendency to develop a more melancholy approach towards both events. Rarely is there an issue. I can see how novice fans can lose their cool over it, though.

    • Jason P

      There’s really no reason for anyone to freak out over arbitration. Either a player signs a 1-year deal for his rate, a 1-year deal for the team’s rate, or a 1-year deal for somewhere in the middle.

      Given that the only thing at stake is money that’s not even our’s (except for maybe slightly hurt feelings/egos if a team has to build a case for why their player isn’t worth more money (though that said, any hard feelings are almost always left behind as soon as the season starts)), there’s essentially only one possible outcome, and it’s a good one.

  • DarthHater

    “I was surprised at the volume of folks who saw the reported $100,000 gap in negotiations and ripped the Cubs for being cheap and not getting a deal done.”

    You were SURPRISED? Okay, who the hell are you, and what have you done with our Brett? :-P

  • Diehardthefirst

    Hellickson of Rays won 12 games and got $3.65 in arb…Hope Cubs cite this factoid

    • Brocktoon

      Personally, I’m hoping the Cubs don’t cite the arbitration award given out to a 1st year arb player when discussing a 2nd year arb player. Especially if said player got 1M more than Shark did when he was Arb-1

      • Diehardthefirst

        Point is he won 12 games with bad arm — just think if had good arm

        • Brocktoon

          What?

  • RITZ

    Chicago Cubs have signed pitcher Jason Hammel to a reported one-year, $6 million deal with another $1 million possible in incentives, not sure how the Cubs can justify to Shark and his agent an arb offer around $4.4M when they just gave Hammel the $6M plus incentives.
    The mediator if this goes that far, knows market value especislly when it was the same team (Cubs) trying to negotiate this for far less than reasonable market value.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Arbitration salaries are determined by inputs that limit how much the player receives. Players do not receive free agent value in arbitration, and everyone involved in the process understands this. They do *not* get market value.

      Hammel’s deal has absolutely no impact on the quality of the offer to Samardzija, nor the ultimate deal he’ll get. He’s a second-time arbitration eligible player with certain stats/service time/value to his team/etc. The only salaries that have any impact whatsoever on his are those of similarly-situated second-time arbitration eligible players this year or in the immediate past.

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