The Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot have yet to reach an agreement for the 2010 MLB baseball season. Theriot asked for $3.4 million while the Cubs countered with a $2.6 million offer. A hearing has not been scheduled yet, but statements that GM Jim Hendry made recently do not sound promising: “I haven’t spoken to his people for awhile. There’s always a chance [for a settlement] until it’s final. But I can’t say I’m optimistic, either. We’re already settled with the other seven [arbitration-eligible players]. So if the situation ends up going to a hearing, then that’s OK, too… Everybody has a right to [a hearing]. It won’t affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays.”
The closest Hendry has come to going into a hearing with a player was with Carlos Zambrano back in the Spring of 2007. Hendry and Big Z’s agent were literally walking into the hearing in Phoenix when the 2 decided that they were close enough to make a deal that both sides could be happy with. Hendry has never actually had to go to a hearing in his tenure as Cubs GM.
I’m a little surprised that the 2 sides can’t work out a deal. Theriot clearly has the upper hand – he plays everyday, his numbers are solid, he is a good clubhouse guy and the Cubs desperately need him to play shortstop and probably bat lead-off. Sure his 2009 numbers were a little off from 2008, but he did reach career highs during the 2009 MLB schedule with 7 home runs, 54 RBI’s and 5 triples. Theriot led the Cubs with 154 games played and 602 at-bats and he was also the only Cubs player with more than 20 stolen bases (21). Theriot led the major leagues in 2009 with 139 singles. There are only a few minor negatives – his walks went down in 2009 (from 73 to 51), while his strikeouts went up (58 to 93). Both his batting average (.307 to .284) and on-base percentage (.387 to .343) also went down. Now the Cubs struggled mightily offensively in 2009, so that could mean that Theriot was pressing a little more to try to make something happen for the team. Maybe he swung at pitches he might not have swung at if the whole lineup was swinging a good bat. So it’s hard to say why the numbers dipped a little bit.
That being said, given the precarious injury situation with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, the Geovany Soto question mark, and the 2nd basemen platoon of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, the Cubs really need some stability up the middle of the infield and at the top of the order. Ryan Theriot provides both of those. I find it hard to believe that the 2 sides won’t agree to a deal before a hearing, but if it does actually make it that far, I’d bet it all on Theriot to win…