This is something of a final reminder that tomorrow is a significant day for the Chicago Cubs (well, all teams, but also the Cubs): it’s the date by which arbitration-eligible players and teams must have agreed to a deal to avoid arbitration, otherwise they have to exchange salary figures.
That’s a significant deadline for a couple reasons: (1) it shows us, for the first time, the actual numbers the teams and players have in mind for their salaries in the season ahead (which is all the more opaque this year because of the pandemic season), and (2) most teams will stop negotiating with a player once those figures are exchanged (known as “file and trial”). The Cubs had become a file and trial team in recent years, so it may still be the case under Jed Hoyer. If that’s true, then it’s either deals done by tomorrow afternoon, or it’s gonna be some arbitration hearings in February. And lingering uncertainty. No one wants that.
By way of reminder, here are the Cubs’ remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible players, and their projected range of salaries via MLBTR:
Javy Báez (Arb 3 of 3, was $10 million in 2020) – $10.0M to $11.9M
Kris Bryant (Arb 4 of 4, was $18.6 million in 2020) – $18.6M to $18.6M
Willson Contreras (Arb 2 of 3, was $4.5 million in 2020) – $5.0M to $7.4M
Zach Davies (Arb 3 of 3, was $5.25 million in 2020) – $6.3M to $10.6M
Ian Happ (Arb 1 of 3, was $624K in 2020) – $2.5M to $4.6M
There are some relatively huge ranges in there thanks to wonky 2020 seasons and past success, so the exchange of figures could wind up even more extreme. And you are reminded: if a case actually proceeds to arbitration, the arbitrator may choose either the figure submitted by the player or the figure submitted by the team. One or the other. No compromise once you get to that point.
Here’s hoping that we learn about five deals signed tomorrow by the Cubs, avoiding any nastiness thereafter.