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Jake Arrieta Arbitration Hearing Set For February 9

Five days from now, the Cubs and their ace could be sitting with an arbitrator.

David Banks/Getty Images

The Cubs and Jake Arrieta have not yet settled on a 2016 contract. Thursday, the date of a possible arbitration hearing was announced:

While that's a fairly large difference between offer ($7.5 million) and request ($13 million), but as I laid out in this article a couple of weeks ago, the gap in those figures actually makes it more likely that the teams will settle. Quoting from an ESPN Chicago Jesse Rogers article linked in the BCB post:

On the surface you might think it would be a good idea for Arrieta to become the first player since Epstein took over to have an arbitration hearing, considering he pitched more like a $13 million player than a $7.5 million one in 2015. Common sense would tell you that. But it’s more complicated than that, because an arbiter isn’t necessarily deciding between $7.5 million and $13 million.

The arbiter only has to decide if Arrieta deserves one penny more or less than the midpoint between the two figures, which is $10.25 million. If the arbiter thinks Arrieta should get, say, $10 million then he/she will rule in favor of the team and he’ll receive $7.5 million. If the arbiter believes Arrieta deserves closer to $11 million, then he/she will rule in favor of Arrieta and he'll receive $13 million. And as agents will tell you, arbiters are as unpredictable as juries in a trial. Arrieta’s strategy should be to settle.

Theo Epstein himself was quoted as saying those figures will likely lead to a settlement:

"The filing numbers aren’t offers, they’re filing numbers used to either create a hearing ... or more likely a settlement," Epstein said. "These numbers provide room for a settlement."

I predict they'll settle before the hearing for around $11 million. Last year the Cubs and Pedro Strop nearly went to a hearing, only to settle just beforehand. That could happen this time, too.

What do you think will happen?