A bit of procedural housekeeping, as teams and players around baseball have to work through a very important part of the arbitration process this week: the exchange of arbitration figures.
In short, controlled players who qualify for arbitration (more than three years of service time, and the top 22% of players with at least two years service time) submit their requested salary for 2019, while teams counter with their own proposed salary for the player in 2019. If the sides do not agree to a contract, then those figures are taken to an arbitrator next month, and that arbitrator picks one of the two figures. Boom, that’s your salary.
The date for exchanging these figures between players and teams is this Friday, January 11. Historically, lots of arbitration-eligible players agree to a contract this week with their team, avoiding the arbitration process entirely. And, you also see agreements hammered out after the exchange of figures.
Er, well, you used to.
The thing is, in the last two years, more and more teams have gone to a “file and trial” approach, which means that if no compromise deal is reached by the time figures are exchanged, that’s it. There’s no more negotiation, and the team takes the player to arbitration using those figures. It’s a method designed not just to force the player’s hand in negotiations (though, let’s be adults, that’s a big part of it), but also to generate cost-certainty for the team much earlier in the offseason.
As near as we can tell, every team in MLB – including the Cubs – is now a file-and-trial team. For that reason, last year, the Theo Epstein-led front office actually proceeded to arbitration with a player for the first time (Justin Grimm). This year, you should expect mostly agreements with players, but you never know. If there is a huge gap between the player’s request and the team’s offer, we may see a hearing or two.
As a reminder, here are the Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players, together with their MLBTR-projected salary:
- Kris Bryant – $12.4MM (2nd of 4 arbitration years)
- Kyle Hendricks – $7.6MM (2nd of 3 arbitration years)
- Javier Baez – $7.1MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Addison Russell – $4.3MM (2nd of 4 arbitration years)
- Kyle Schwarber – $3.1MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Mike Montgomery – $3.0MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Carl Edwards Jr. – $1.4MM (1st of 4 arbitration years)
Sometimes this week spurs extension activity around the league (you’re negotiating with a player about salary anyway, and sometimes that conversation gets broader), and I’m sure the Cubs would love to make that happen with a couple of these players.
If things are as tight for the Cubs as it seems, you can bet they will be looking to get some cost-effective contracts done this week …