Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Six Players, Matt Garza Still Remains

By Randy Holt

Tuesday was the deadline for teams to exchange arbitration numbers, and the Cubs agreed to one-year deals with six players, leaving Matt Garza as the only one unsigned.

The Cubs have, historically, been very good about avoiding arbitration with players, as Ryan Theriot in 2010 was the only case the team had to deal with since 1993.

It appears that Theo Epstein brings a similar philosophy to the Cubs, having never gone to arbitration with a player while he was in Boston.

Geovany Soto was the big earner of the six signed on Tuesday, agreeing to a $4.3 million deal. Soto gets a $1.3 million raise despite his average falling dramatically in 2011, down to .228 and struggling defensively.

Soto was one of four position players to get one-year deals, with the Cubs retaining both infielders Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt and new third baseman Ian Stewart. Both Baker and DeWitt are versatile players that will likely stick around, pending a trade, and Stewart gets a slight raise heading into his first season with the Cubs.

The two pitchers to receive one-year deals were Randy Wells and Chris Volstad. Wells had a disappointing season, for the most part, before turning it on in August, going 4-0 in his last six starts. Volstad had a very strong September for Miami, surrendering just eight earned runs in 31 innings that month. He was acquired by the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano.

That just leaves Matt Garza as the lone man without a contract. The two sides exchanged figures, with the Cubs countering Garza’s $10.225 million figure with $7.95 million. Given Theo’s history with arbitration-eligible players, it’s very likely that some sort of resolution will come out of this before the two sides can head to a hearing next month.

There has been some speculation that the Cubs could seek to sign Garza to an extension, if they don’t trade him first. He has one more arbitration year before he becomes a free agent after the 2013 season.

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