Well what do you know? This afternoon, the Cubs announced that retired catcher and all-around amazing dude David Ross would be joining their front office as a special assistant to baseball operations. This is really a win-win-win situation. The Cubs are retaining one of the best clubhouse guys and young baseball minds around. The fans, who fell in love with Ross’s hard-nosed play on the field and goofy sense of humor off of it in playing up his role as “Grandpa Rossy,” will get to see him here and there and know he’s still “one of us.” And Ross, I hope, is stoked to stay involved with teammates he loves while learning the business side of baseball from one of the most creative and dynamic front offices in the game. All while getting to spend more time with his family. Cup bumps all around!
In other good Cubs news, they’ve settled with three out of four of their arbitration eligible players. The ins and outs of who is eligible for arbitration can be complicated, but basically, a player has to have six full years of Major League service time to attain free agency. Before that, based on various factors, players can be eligible to renegotiate their salaries for the next season. By a specified date – today – teams and players have to exchange figures for the next season’s salary: players say I want this much, teams say I want to pay that much. As you can imagine, this can be a bit awkward. If the team and player don’t agree, the case goes to arbitration, where an independent arbiter, or mediator, picks one or the other figure. There’s no middle ground at that point. Thing is, players and teams can continue to negotiate up to the hearing. The current Cubs front office has thus far avoided going to an arbitration hearing with any of their players.
This year’s arbitration eligible players included a big name: righty Jake Arrieta. And in very good news, today Arrieta, 30, agreed to pitch for $15.6375 million in 2017. This was Jake’s last year in arbitration, and he’ll be seeking a long term deal after the season. Whether he extends and remains with the Cubs will be a topic of conversation all year until the issue is settled one way or the other.
The Cubs also came to terms with two key relievers. Former closer and current setup man RHP Hector Rondon will make $5.8 million this year, and RHP Justin Grimm has agreed to a $1.825 million deal. Now we’re waiting to hear on reliever Pedro Strop, but so far so good for the Cubs today!