Chicago Cubs Avoid Arbitration After Signing Matt Garza to a $9.5 Million Contract: Fan’s Take

The Chicago Cubs and Matt Garza were scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on February 3, 2012. That won't be necessary now that both sides have reportedly agreed to a one-year contract. Garza will receive $9.5 million in 2012, a pay increase of approximately $3.6 million from 2011. That doesn't include the money that Garza can make through performance bonuses.

Garza had been seeking approximately $12.5 million this season. The Cubs were offering $7.95 million. Garza is also arbitration-eligible in 2013. He's expected to become a free agent by 2014 if a long-term deal hasn't been reached before that.

Had this gone to arbitration, one would expect that the arbitrator would've agreed on a number in the middle $7.95 million and $12.5 million. The agreed amount of $9.5 million is much closer to what the Cubs were offering than what Garza was asking for. The performance bonuses should motivate Garza to have a solid season even if the Cubs aren't performing well.

This is a great short-term deal for the Cubs. They're getting Garza at a respectable price. This should also make it easier for the Cubs if they decide on trading him before the July trading deadline. The Cubs could either retain him as the ace pitcher in their rebuilding phase or they could trade him to another team who will sacrifice some top-tier prospects before the deadline. The Cubs don't have to rush into any decisions with the 28-year-old.

There's no disputing that Garza was the best starting pitcher for the Cubs in 2011. While he finished the season with a 10-10 record, Garza had a 3.32 ERA. He had seven no-decisions after he left the game with a lead.

Garza is expected to be the opening-day starter in a pitching staff that will have competition from Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad. Dempster is making $14 million this season after he accepted his players' option following a four-year, $52-million contract that he signed in 2007.

I feel like every starting pitcher on this team has something to prove. I'm looking forward to how they'll respond as nobody is giving them much hope for 2012. While I'm not predicting playoffs (or even a .500 season), I wouldn't be surprised if they overachieved during the first half of the season, similar to how the Pittsburgh Pirates did last season.

Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.

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Joshua Huffman is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Friday, Feb 3, 2012