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Friday is the deadline for MLB teams and players to exchange arbitration figures

... and that could be quite meaningful to the Cubs’ bottom line.

KB got a record salary for a first-year arb player last year. What will 2019 bring?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs, from reports and guesses, are in a budget crunch for 2019.

Much of this is of their own making, as they appear to have set a team budget that reaches a ceiling just below Level 3 of the luxury tax. (Again, this isn’t the place to rehash whether the Cubs should go past that level. All I’m saying here is they have apparently made the choice not to.)

That will make the settling of contracts with the Cubs’ seven arbitration-eligible players a key to whether they might, just might, decide they can fit another contract under that self-imposed limit.

Here are the Cubs’ seven arb-eligible players and salary estimates made by MLB Trade Rumors, and by me:

Cubs arbitration eligible players for 2019

Player MLBTR estimate BCB estimate
Player MLBTR estimate BCB estimate
Kris Bryant $12,400,000 $13,000,000
Kyle Hendricks $7,600,000 $8,200,000
Javier Baez $7,100,000 $6,200,000
Addison Russell $4,300,000 $4,250,000
Kyle Schwarber $3,100,000 $3,200,000
Mike Montgomery $3,000,000 $2,300,000
Carl Edwards Jr. $1,400,000 $1,700,000
TOTAL $37,500,000 $38,850,000

As you can see, for some players the MLBTR estimates were higher, for others, mine was higher. The total is in the same, uh, ballpark, and it’s entirely possible that these numbers are off and these seven players will wind up with salaries wildly different from the numbers shown above.

That’s not likely, and what seems likely is that one or more of these players will actually go to an arb hearing, as Justin Grimm did last year. The Cubs won that arb case and Grimm was awarded a grand total of $275,000 less than he filed for, which seems like an insignificant amount of money to go to a hearing over. That’s especially true considering the Cubs released Grimm during spring training, thus owing him only one-sixth of the contract.

The deadline for teams and players to submit figures is this Friday, January 11. I haven’t been able to locate a specific time deadline for this year, but last year’s deadline was on the comparable Friday at noon Central time, so we should know sometime Friday afternoon what these seven players’ requests and offers are, or whether any of them have settled before then and avoided arbitration. Given that the Cubs appeared to be a “file-and-trial” team that considered that a hard deadline last year, they’ll likely do the same this Friday.

One thing I think you can be nearly certain of is that this year, the Cubs won’t settle with any of the seven before Friday’s deadline. In my view, they are likely to lowball all seven of them in an effort to save some money off this year’s budget. As I noted above, more than one of them might actually go to a hearing this year.

It’s been quite the offseason. I’ll update the Cubs’ estimated payroll and luxury tax hit after all the arb-eligible players officially sign.