Eight Cubs Eligible for 2014 Salary Arbitration
An unsigned player under club control who has accrued at least three but less than six years of MLB Service Time is automatically eligible for salary arbitration. Also, any unsigned player with at least two years but less than three years of MLB Service Time who accrued at least 86 days of MLB Service Time the previous season can qualify for salary arbitration as a so-called "Super Two" if the player is among the top 22% in MLB Service Time of players in that group.
If a club and a player eligible for salary arbitration cannot agree on a contract, the player can request the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to file for salary arbitration.
The MLBPA is responsible for delivering all requests for salary arbitration to the MLB Labor Relations Department (MLB LRD) on the Tuesday immediately prior to the third Friday in January. Once salary arbitration has been requested, the player submits his desired salary to the MLBPA and the club submits its salary offer to the MLB LRD, and the MLBPA and MLB LRD exchange the two figures on the third Friday in January. The MLBPA and MLB LRD then schedule a hearing with a three-person arbitration panel. Hearings are held on various dates during the first three weeks of February.
The club's offer must be at least the MLB minimum salary and, in most cases, must be at least 80% of the player's previous year's salary and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back. However, if the player received a raise in excess of 50% by a salary arbitration panel the previous season, a 20% maximum salary reduction from the previous season and a 30% maximum salary reduction from two seasons back does not apply, and the club only has to offer at least the MLB minimum salary.
After arbitration has been requested, the player and the club can continue to negotiate back & forth, and the player can withdraw from the process any time up until the hearing. And in fact this frequently happens, as the player and the club will often agree to just "split the difference" (something the panel cannot do). If the matter does go to a hearing, the arbitration panel must choose either the club's offer or the player's figure.
Win or lose, the player is awarded a standard one-year MLB contract with no "minor league split" salary or incentive/performance bonuses. Also, the contract is not guaranteed, so if the player is released during Spring Training, the club would only owe the player 30 days or 45 days salary as termination pay, depending on when the player is released. (A player on an MLB 40-man roster receives 100% of what remains of his salary if he is released during the regular season).
NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player who was awarded a contract through the salary arbitration process is released during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.
CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY-ARBITRATION
Darwin Barney, INF (1st time eligible - $562K 2013 salary)
Justin Ruggiano, OF (1st time eligible - $494,500 2013 salary)
James Russell, LHP (2nd time eligible - agreed to $1.075M 2013 salary pre-arbitration hearing)
Jeff Samardzija, RHP (2nd time eligible - agreed to $2.625M 2013 salary pre-arbitration hearing)
Nate Schierholtz, OF (3rd time eligible - $2.75M 2013 salary including $500K performance bonus - signed as non-tendereed FA post-2012)
Pedro Strop, RHP (1st time eligible - is a "Super Two" - $502,500 2013 salary)
Luis Valbuena, INF (2nd time eligible - agreed to $930K 2013 salary pre-arbitration hearing)
Travis Wood, LHP (1st time eligible - $527,500 2013 salary)
Again, if the salary dispute gets to an arbitration panel, the panel must choose either the player's salary request or the club's salary offer, so it is important for the player & his agent to request a salary figure at what they estimate would be the top end salary-range of what a comparable player (based on statistics) in what is now the player's class (based on MLB Service Time) received the previous season and/or comparable to what a player in the same class as the player is being paid in 2014 if the other player signed a multi-year contract and is thus not eligible for salary arbitration. Meanwhile, the club must make sure to offer a salary at what it estimates to be the low-end of the salary range of what a player in that class received in 2013 or the salary of what a player in the player's same class will be receiving in 2014 for players signed to multi-year contracts (like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, for example).
The player or his agent present his statistics (offense & defense for position players, and pitching stats for pitchers) in the best-light possible, and the club's representative presents the player's stats in as bad a light as possible. The player and/or the club can attempt to offer advanced metrics if it wants to go that route, but remember, Bill James and Tom Tango are not arbitrators. And then the arbitration panel makes a determination based upon the evidence presented by both sides.
LIKELY PROJECTED 2014 SALARY ARBITRATION NUMBERS (PLAYER REQUEST v. CLUB OFFER)
Samardzija - $6M requested v. $4.5M offered
Schierholtz - $5M requested v. $4M offered
Wood - $4M requested v. $2.75M offered
Barney - $2.75M requested v. $2M offered
Russell - $2.25M requested v. $1.5M offered
Valbuena - $2M requested v. $1.25M offered
Ruggiano - $2M requested v. $1.25M offered
Strop - $1.5M requested v. $1M offered