……..So says the article on the Cubs web site.
The Cubs have prided themselves on not having to go to arbitration since 1993. They got very close with Zambrano in 2007, he was asking for $15.5 million and the team had offered $11.025 million. The article states they settled just outside the hearing room for a one year $12.4 million deal.
One must understand that the arbiter must hear both sides present their case and then must pick one of the two numbers that was submitted by the player or the team. It was prudent for Hendry and Zambrano’s agent to agree as they did as there was a four million dollar gap between the numbers. One of them stood to lose $4 million in the ruling, better to compromise somewhere in between.
Arbitration in my mind is a very slippery slope and no one really comes out a winner. According to the article the Cubs have offered $2.6 million and Theriot as asked for $3.4 million. As a Cub fan I do not feel comfortable with this one at all. The gap is $800,000 and what the heck, the worst thing that could happen to Theriot is he is paid $2.6 million, a hefty raise from the $500,000 he made last year. From his perspective he and his agent may feel he has little to lose. Theriot is also 30 years old and he knows multi-million dollar contracts at his age may become harder and harder to come by.
There are a couple of sentences that stand out in the article that should be mentioned:
Going into the session, Hendry had told his staff to avoid getting personal or say anything disparaging about Zambrano. The same applies to Theriot’s case.
“Everybody has a right to [a hearing],” Hendry said. “It won’t affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays.”
Should they get into the hearing room, my fear is all that can change. The player agent will point to all the positives, comparing statistics with other shortstops and try to convince the arbiter they are being fair with what they are asking for.
On the other hand the Cubs will do just the opposite, pointing to the negative side and try to convince the arbiter they are more than fair in what they are offering.
Then, after hearing the presentations, a few days later the ruling will come out and be binding.
Now, suppose the ruling is in the favor of the team, like it or not you have a player who is not necessarily happy……”I don’t get no respect” said Rodney Dangerfield. He could indeed be more prone to leave via free agency when the time came just to “get even”. Or worse yet, when he has even the slightest injury, he may decide not to play because when he played hurt in the past his stats suffered a bit and ended up costing him a good deal of money. As a Cub fan, I don’t want any player having those distractions, playing the game to your best each and every day is hard enough.
On the other hand suppose Theriot wins. Did he really win? Sure $800,000 is a lot of money and Hendry has tried to soften things with his quote that it does not matter either way and does not alter the way they feel about him.
Now I know Jim Hendry has a terrific reputation as being a man of his word. He is very well respected in and out of the baseball community. If there was anyone that I would likely believe it would be Mr. Hendry.
At the same time, the team has a budget and he would end up with a player who he feels in his heart is being overpaid and costing him money that could be used to get better players at other positions. In addition, next year the current salary will be based on this year’s number and if he plays well he will expect another raise. Now what happens when he is 35, on the bubble so to speak, do we keep him or replace him with a lower priced rookie? What I am suggesting is there is a very real possibility that his $800,000 gain this year if the ruling is in his favor could cost him a contract a few years down the road.
So what do I want…..I want the team and the player settling their differences before they even get to St. Pete for a hearing. The team, the player and the fans will all be winners if that happens.