From the Wire … Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Samardzija and Russell

The Cubs avoided arbitration with Jeff Samardzija and James Russell on Friday afternoon. The announcement was made just before the Opening Ceremonies to the 2013 Cubs Convention.

Jeff Samardzija agreed to a one-year, $2.64 million contract, the same as he was paid last year. The contract includes $125,000 incentives package based on innings pitched. James Russell avoided arbitration by signing a $1.075 million deal for next season more than doubling the $512,500 he made last year.

Jeff Samardzija was arbitration eligible for the first time and figured to receive a nice bump in pay from the $2.64 million he received last year. Samardzija posted a 9-13 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP last season. Samardzija struck out 180 batters and walked 56 in 174 2/3 innings and appeared to figure things out in the second half (3-5 in 11 starts with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP) before being shut down following a start in Pittsburgh on September 8.

James Russell was also arbitration eligible for the first time and the lefty reliever nearly doubled his salary from a year ago. Russell earned his $512,500 pay check by posting a 7-1 record in a career-high 77 games with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. Russell posted career-lows in ERA and WHIP while striking out a career-high 55 batters in 69 1/3 innings. Russell pitched out of a rough stretch in July (3-0 in 11 games with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP) and finished the year on a positive note.

The Cubs avoided the arbitration process with all four arbitration eligible players. Matt Garza signed for $10.25 million, Luis Valbuena signed for $930,000, James Russell for $1.075 million and Jeff Samardzija for $2.64 million.

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