5 Cubs players sign deals; Theriot, Marshall, Marmol still remain unsigned

Updated 1/19/2010 5:31 PM

The Cubs got more than halfway home with their arbitration-eligible players Tuesday, signing five of the eight.

Three key players remain unsigned, with arbitration hearings looming next month.


Shortstop Ryan Theriot, left-handed pitcher Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol did not come to terms with the Cubs. The Cubs filed offers, and each player countered.

If the two sides can't come to an agreement, an arbitrator will pick one salary or another.

The best chance for hearing this year appears to rest with Theriot. After making $500,000 last year, he's seeking a salary of $3.4 million while the Cubs are offering $2.6 million. Theriot talked about the process last week during the Cubs convention.

"That's why we all have agents. Hopefully, it'll work out positive for everyone," he said. "You're excited. It's something that's kind of set in stone. It is what it is. You look at numbers, and that's kind of what happens. There's really not much negotiating."

Marmol, who was paid $575,000 last year, is seeking $2.5 million while the Cubs are offering $1.75 million. Marshall made $450,000 in 2009. He's seeking $1.175 million while the Cubs are offering $800,000.

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Coming to terms were infielders Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, catcher Koyie Hill and pitchers Angel Guzman and Tom Gorzelanny.

"There was a level of fairness on both sides," said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "That's what we do. Look at how many guys we've agreed with in the past who have gone on to multiyear deals."

Each of the signing players got good raises. Fontenot went from $430,000 to $1 million. He'll share time at second with Baker, whose salary went from $415,000 to $975,000.

Guzman gets a raise from $421,000 to $825,000. Gorzelanny goes from $433,000 to $800,000, and Hill's salary moves from $475,000 to $700,000.

Theriot is sure to point to career bests in home runs (7) and RBI (54), but his on-base percentage dropped from .387 to .343 from 2008 to 2009 while his batting average fell to .284 from .307. Theriot's strikeouts spiked from 58 to 93 while his walks dropped from 73 to 51 from '08 to 2009.

Also Tuesday, the Cubs watched free-agent pitcher Ben Sheets throw in Louisiana as Sheets tries to come back from elbow surgery. Other teams were present, too.

Cubs representatives said Sheets appeared to throw "free and easy" during three sets of pitching. The Cubs have been termed the favorites by some observers to land Sheets, but team insiders say they are nowhere near an agreement. Sheet's purported salary demands have ranged from $6 million to $12 million for one year. That's far out of the Cubs' range. They would likely offer a deal with a low base salary plus incentives.

Hendry's priorities remain a right-handed hitting outfielder and a veteran right-handed reliever. Talks with outfielders such as former White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye have not advanced beyond preliminary stages, according to sources.


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