Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and James Russell were among 133 players that filed for salary arbitration prior to Tuesday’s deadline. The Cubs had four arbitration eligible players when the off-season began and they avoided arbitration with Luis Valbuena last week by signing the infielder to a one-year, $930,000 contract for the upcoming season.
The deadline for teams and players to exchange salary arbitration figures is Friday.
Just because Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and James Russell filed for salary arbitration it does not mean that the Cubs will not sign each player prior to their scheduled hearing. This is part of the arbitration process and the deadline to file was Tuesday. The Cubs can still avoid the arbitration process by agreeing to terms on a contract for next season any time before the hearing begins. Hearings will be scheduled between February 4 and February 20 this year.
Jeff Samardzija is arbitration eligible for the first time and figures to receive a nice bump in pay from the $2.64 million he received last year. Samardzija should make around $5-$6 million after posting 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 is also arbitration eligible for the first time and the lefty reliever could end up doubling his salary from last season. 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. Russell should be looking at a $1 million salary for the upcoming season.
Matt Garza is coming off an injury shortened season and his fourth and final arbitration year will not be as big a payday as it would have been if he did not get hurt. Garza agreed to a $9.5 million contract last season that included a $150,000 incentives package based on innings pitched ($50,000 for 210 innings and $100,000 for 220 innings). Garza was good while he was on the mound (5-7 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 18 starts) but did not pitch after July 21. Garza should receive around a $10 million contract for the upcoming season.