In a departure from business as usual for the Chicago Cubs, the team may very well be headed to their first arbitration hearing in 17 years.
Negotiations to settle on a figure between the $3.4 million Ryan Theriot has asked for and the club's number of $2.6 million have failed. Closer Carlos Marmol's contract has not been settled yet, however sources say that an amicable conclusion to his situation should take place before there's a hearing.
Major League Baseball will assign hearing dates for teams and players who have not resolved their arbitration disputes before February 20. In these cases, an independent arbitrator presides over a hearing where both sides present their cases and explain why the arbitrator should side with them. The arbitrator must choose either the team's number or the player's figure. He's not allowed to award anything in between the two numbers.
Since the numbers were posted, it is believed that the Cubs offered a number above the $2.6 million they're taking to arbitration. To this point, Theriot's camp has not moved off its asking price. If the case goes to a hearing, Theriot's agents will provide numbers to support the fact that the Cubs' starting shortstop since 2007 had career highs in games played and RBIs in 2009. The Cubs will counter with negative stats that show an increase in strikeouts (93 in '09, 58 in '08) and a decline in walks (51 in '09, 73 in '08). The 30-year old Louisiana native also had a career-high in errors with 15, although, in support of Theriot, his range seemed to improve last season which would indicate he's getting to more balls.
With injuries to key players like Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, it was obvious that Theriot changed his hitting approach at times, trying to drive in more runs. Theriot led the team with 51 multi-hit games and 21 stolen bases. He was also second on the team with 81 runs scored.
The Cubs last went to arbitration in 1993 with first baseman Mark Grace. At that time the arbitrator chose the team's figure over Grace's number.