A total of 34 players in the National League Central Division were eligible for arbitration this year. Players with between three and six years of service time (like Jed Lowrie), pending free agents who accepted the club’s arbitration offer (like Francisco Rodriguez), and those special “Super Two” players (like Garrett Jones) have had their names pop up in headlines over the past few days. Twenty-five of those have come to agreements with their respective ball clubs, leaving 9 others to negotiate with their teams until a hearing scheduled sometime in February. For those unfamiliar with the complete details of the arbitration process, here’s a helpful link you can use.
In part one, I’ll summarize the new deals for the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Houston Astros. Only fair to go in alphabetical order, right? First, a quick rundown of each team’s players who agreed to a contract, thus avoiding arbitration:
- Two of the newest Cubbies, Ian Stewart and Chris Volstad, were up for arbitration but agreed to $2.237M and $2.655M, respectively. Randy Wells‘ new salary is similar to fellow rotation candidate Volstad, at $2.705M. The Cubs’ two utility men Blake DeWitt ($1.1M) and Jeff Baker ($1.375M) both avoided, while the biggest new salary belongs to catcher Geovany Soto ($4.3M).
- The Reds agreed to contracts with three players, including starting pitcher Homer Bailey, who will earn $2.425M. Bill Bray tweeted about his new $1.417M deal. “My family and I are extremely pleased,” he said. Although shortstop Paul Janish also signed. The folks over at Cot’s Baseball Contracts say his new deal is worth $0.85M.
- J.A. Happ‘s first go at arbitration earned him a $2.35M dollar deal from the Houston Astros. Backup catcher Humberto Quintero, contrastingly, is in his final year of arbitration. He will earn a million dollars in 2012.
Despite the number of players who did agree to a new salary, four players from these three teams did not. The Astros’ Jed Lowrie, who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in December, has asked for $1.5M after earning near the Major League minimum ($0.45M) in 2011. The Astros offered to double his salary but the two remain apart. Jose Arredondo and Nick Masset are the unresolved cases for the Reds. Arredondo and the Reds are just a few hundred thousand apart ($0.875M to $0.725M), but Masset’s different is almost a million ($2.9M to $2.1M).
Most of the cases for the Cubs, Astros, and Reds were minor. The six Cubs up for arbitration earned $7.8425M last year with their respective organizations, and get a raise to $14.372M in 2012 thanks to first-timers Volstad, Wells, and DeWitt. The three Reds players have jumped from $1.5235M to $5.142M. Quintero’s 2012 salary with the Astros is the same as his earnings in 2011, but Happ got a $1.876M pay raise from his $0.474M salary. In total, these eleven players went from making $10.84M combined to $22.39M this offseason, almost a 107% increase.
Even almost all of the cases that are not yet resolved are close. If the two sides do not come to a deal before the scheduled hearing, a third party will decide on one salary or the other. There is no middle ground. The Astros and Reds are only a million and a half away from their players’ asking prices combined. The big story here, however, is the enthusiastic starting pitcher to the left: Matt Garza.
Jon Heyman originally tweeted on Tuesday that Garza and the Cubs were $2.275M away, exchanging figures of $10.225M from the player and $7.95M from the organization. That all changed today when Heyman corrected himself, tweeting that Garza’s number was actually $12.5M, making the difference $4.55M. Keep in mind that Garza made $5.95M in 2011, his first year with the Cubs.
If you’re a Garza fan, Buster Olney has good news for you. On Twitter, he said Garza’s previously thought number of $10M “greatly complicates any interest in him as a trade target,” which can only mean that $12M is much worse. If there wasn’t enough speculation about the starting pitcher in the news already, these vastly differing numbers should add to the intrigue. It’s going to be an interesting February.
Part two will look at the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates and their arbitration cases. Coming soon.