It’s February 1, just 18 more days before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
And with the calendar flipping to February, arbitration hearings for players and teams that have not settled on a contract for the upcoming season have been scheduled. Arbitration hearings take place this year between Feb. 1 and Feb. 21. The Cubs avoided arbitration with eight of their nine arbitration eligible players.
Jake Arrieta is the only arbitration eligible player on the Cubs’ 40-man roster that remains unsigned for the upcoming season.
When salary arbitration numbers were exchanged on Jan. 15, Arrieta asked for $13 million and the Cubs submitted a figure of $7.5 million. The two sides are expected to settle around the midpoint of the two figures that were submitted, which would make Arrieta’s salary for the upcoming season around $10.25 million.
Arrieta’s arbitration date has not been leaked yet. The Cubs and Arrieta can settle until the point the hearing actually begins. Once the process starts an independent arbiter will choose either the $13 million Arrieta is asking for or the $7.5 million the Cubs submitted. By rule, there cannot be a middle ground, it’s one or the other.
Theo Epstein and Jake Arrieta said more than two weeks ago there should not be a problem agreeing to terms on a contract and avoiding the arbitration hearing. The Cubs have not gone to arbitration with a player since Epstein took over baseball ops in October 2011.
Jesse Rogers talked to Arrieta during the Convention about how he has prepared for the upcoming season this winter. Arrieta stays in great shape, the “best shape of anyone” Cubs’ strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss has ever been around.
Arrieta admitted he ran out of gas in the post-season last year. He feels he is capable of handling the bigger workload moving forward both physically and mentally. Rogers reported “the sentiment around the Cubs is that the next time around, his arm, mind and body will be better prepared.”
The Cubs have not said how Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio will back Arrieta off in Spring Training.
Theo Epstein told ESPN Chicago, “We’ll be smart about how he goes about his Spring Training and how we manage his workload early. The fact that he was able to throw a ton of innings last year and stay healthy throughout the whole season is a really good sign for him. We have to be smart about it, to keep him fresh for the most important time of year.”
ESPN Chicago detailed how recent history of other starting pitchers making similar jumps in innings pitched, as Arrieta did from 2014 to 2015, “isn’t a big concern.”
Jake Arrieta enjoyed his last Sunday at home before Spring Training …
With Theo Epstein hoping for a Cubs-Red Sox final series of the upcoming baseball season, here’s a snippet from the Cubs Convention.
Epstein was asked about the parallels between the Cubs and Red Sox and what was the difference in the organizations when he took over Baseball Operations.
“I think the biggest difference in Boston, my personal experience in Boston when I took over after the 2002 season as we went to put the 2003 and 2004 four clubs together there was already an elite core in place. You had Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez on the mound. I think what was needed in Boston was turning over the whole second half of the roster.”
“With the Cubs, I think one of the things that we had to do was take an honest look at what was in the organization when we got here. A lot of people always ask, ‘Couldn’t have you done it quicker? Couldn’t you compete more while you were rebuilding?’”
“I honestly think looking back that this was the only choice we had to get to this point. There just wasn’t enough talent on the big league roster. There weren’t enough resources. There wasn’t enough coming from the minor league system.”
“So the biggest difference is that here we had to be really single-minded over a three-year period about just acquiring young talent to build to the point we got to in 2015. We are really sorry we put you guys through that. We appreciate the incredible patience that you showed. That was one of the most rewarding parts for us last year, getting to October, seeing the smiles on your faces because you guys lived through it for three years and we appreciate it. That was the big difference from Boston, we didn’t have a chance to compete right away and we had to build it more from the ground up.”
News and Notes
• The Cubs know catching according to a report from CBS Chicago … this must-read talks about the new metrics to measure defensive value for catchers.
• CBS Sports posted a Cubs team outlook for those that play fantasy baseball.
• According to Ryan Lewis, Indians players at Tribe Fest were thankful the starting rotation remained untouched. Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff told MLB Network Radio on Sunday morning, “Our goal was to add depth to our offense. When the goal is to add depth, you’re never done. We could make one or two more moves.”
• The Brewers stayed in the news Sunday with their fan fest taking place. Former Cubs’ right-hander Matt Garza talked to the media and explained why he left the team last year when he was told he would be used out of the bullpen. Garza went home to take care of his family and pregnant wife, who was bedridden for 14 weeks before giving birth to twins. Garza also said he is going to embrace the Brewers rebuild while pitching for himself and being “the old Matt Garza.” Garza admitted, again, he wanted out of Chicago when the Cubs started the rebuild process, but that’s not the case with the Brewers.
• New Brewers’ shortstop prospect Isan Diaz was drawing comps to Robinson Cano while playing in high school less than two years ago according to Peter Gammons.
• And Ryan Braun “is behind schedule in rehab from back surgery.” Braun will not be 100 percent when Spring Training starts but is hoping to be ready for Opening Day. Braun had time to put Jonathan Lucroy in his place about the comments the Brewers’ catcher made. The Brewers keep trying to unload Braun on a team, but to this point David Stearns has not been able to find a team willing to take on Braun.
• Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage is considered one of, if not the best pitching coach in the game. Searage is a free agent after the season and wants to finish his career with the Pirates. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Searage has his work cut out for him this year.
And last, but not least, Ken Rosenthal posted a must-read … Baseball execs can’t lose sight of the human element in making decisions.
This Day in Cubstory
2009 – Cubs signed free agent Paul Bako
2007 – Cubs signed free agent Cliff Floyd
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Charlie Greene
1987 – Austin Jackson, born
1986 – Kristopher Negron, born
1986 – Cubs signed free agent Matt Keough
1982 – Jean Machi, born
1976 – Phil Norton, born
1968 – Kent Mercker, born
1966 – Eddie Zambrano, born
1961 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Bob Raudman
1910 – Cubs traded Fred Liese and cash to the Boston Doves for Ginger Beaumont
1908 – Vince Barton, born
1894 – Walt Golvin, born
1858 – Lew Brown, born