The Cubs are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series. Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.
- First time: Luis Valbuena ($900K), Jeff Samardzija ($2.9MM), James Russell ($900K)
- Second time: Chris Volstad ($3MM)
- Third time: Manny Corpas ($1.4MM), Ian Stewart ($2.3MM)
- Fourth time: Matt Garza ($10MM)
Several arbitration eligible Cubs stand a good chance of being non-tendered. With a 6.31 ERA, Volstad had a terrible year, and paying him anything close to $3MM doesn't make sense. Stewart was affected all year by a wrist injury, which culminated in July surgery. MLB.com's Carrie Muskat quoted Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on the situation last month: "Obviously, we'll spend a lot of time getting to the bottom of how it looks going forward before making a decision on his future with us. It is a year that's hard to evaluate given the wrist." So, Stewart at least has some chance of sticking around.
Valbuena picked up a lot of starts at third base in Stewart's absence, and manager Dale Sveum told Muskat he sees the 26-year-old on next year's team. Valbuena's numbers — .219/.310/.340 in 303 plate appearances — don't make a strong case, however. Corpas didn't have a particularly good year, and seems likely to be cut loose.
Samardzija spent the year in the Cubs' rotation and authored a breakout campaign, just in time for arbitration. It's tough to find good comparables, since the pitcher had spent most of his previous innings in relief. We've got him at $2.9MM, though his agency could make a case for something in excess of $3.5MM. If the Cubs look to extend Samardzija, perhaps Johnny Cueto's four-year, $27MM deal would be a template. Russell had a solid year out of the Cubs' pen, but won't be expensive his first time through arbitration.
Garza pitched a bit more than half a season before a triceps/elbow injury cut him short. We're projecting a pretty mild raise up to $10MM, but this is another situation light on comparables. If Garza comes up strong in the first half of 2013, the Cubs must decide whether to trade him, extend him, or let him walk as a free agent (potentially with a qualifying offer).
If only Garza, Valbuena, Samardzija, and Russell are retained, we're estimating $14.7MM in salary to four arbitration eligible players.
Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors. To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.