Arrieta headed to arb after Cubs sign 6

Arrieta headed to arb after Cubs sign 6

CHICAGO -- The Cubs avoided arbitration on Friday with six of their seven players who were eligible, but the club and Jake Arrieta appear to be far apart, as the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner proposed a $13 million salary for 2016, while the team countered with $7.5 million.

Now that the numbers have been exchanged an arbitration hearing will be scheduled sometime between Feb. 1-21, at which point each side will present its case to an arbitrator, who will choose one of the proposals to be Arrieta's rate for the upcoming season. Negotiations can continue until that hearing occurs, however, and it's during this time when clubs and players often find middle ground.

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Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the filing numbers "don't always represent the offers."

"There's kind of an art to the filing numbers," Epstein said Friday. "We try to massage the midpoint to a number that makes a lot of sense, and I think in this case, if you focus on the spread, you're kind of missing the story, which is I think it provides a lot of room for further discussion.

"I would be extremely hopeful we'll get something done to avoid a hearing. Jake deserves a really big raise. Nothing but the best things to say about him. His performance last year as a Cub speaks for itself, and he'll be deservedly rewarded by the system and we look forward to making it happen, preferably as a settlement."

Friday at noon CT was the deadline for clubs and arbitration-eligible players to exchange proposed salary figures. The Cubs had talked about a possible long-term deal for Arrieta, 29, who is coming off a stellar year in which he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. He is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2017 season.

"We weren't the least bit surprised by today's events and where it left the midpoint and where we can go from here to try to get it done without getting in a hearing room," Epstein said. "If we go to a hearing, we go to a hearing. We wouldn't go in and pick holes in Jake Arrieta's performance as a Cub, that's for sure. We think he had an historic season, we think he deserves a huge raise and we're really proud of him."

The Cubs thought so highly of Arrieta's season that he was the last player introduced during the opening ceremonies of the Cubs Convention on Friday at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, and the right-hander followed Anthony Rizzo, NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant and NL Manager of the Year Joe Maddon.

The Cubs did avoid arbitration with Chris Coghlan, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, and Adam Warren, signing each to a one-year contract.

Wood, who turns 29 next month, signed a $6.17 million contract. The lefty was 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 54 games last season, making a smooth transition from starter to reliever. He began the year in the Cubs' rotation and went 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA as a starter. He posted a 2.95 ERA in 45 games in relief. Wood made $5.685 million last season.

Strop, 30, compiled a 2.91 ERA in 76 games as the Cubs' primary setup pitcher, striking out 81 over 68 innings. The right-hander made $2.525 million last year, and signed for $4.4 million for '16.

This is the first year Warren, Rondon and Grimm were arbitration-eligible. Grimm, 27, signed a one-year, $1.275 million contract. He compiled a career-best 1.99 ERA in 62 games, striking out 67 over 49 2/3 innings.

Rondon, who turns 28 next month, signed a $4.2 million deal. He posted a career-best 1.67 ERA in 72 games, converting 30 of 34 save opportunities. He lost his job as the club's closer, but called the move the "best thing that happened to me." The right-hander posted a 1.10 ERA after the All-Star break. Rondon made $544,000 last year.

Warren, 28, was acquired from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. The right-hander was 7-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 43 games, including 17 starts. He was 6-6 as a starter with a 3.66 ERA, and had a 2.29 ERA in 26 games in relief. He signed for $1.7 million.

In his second season with the Cubs, Coghlan, 30, batted .250, and set career highs in games played (148) and home runs (16). He lost some playing time to rookie Kyle Schwarber. Coghlan made $2.505 million last season, and he signed a one-year deal for $4.8 million.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.