Cubs avoid arbitration, reach agreements with 6 remaining eligible players

January 11th, 2024

CHICAGO – The Cubs have a long history of avoiding arbitration hearings with their players. That continued on Thursday, when the North Siders reached one-year agreements with the six remaining big leaguers in this offseason’s arbitration-eligible class.

Any eligible players without a deal had until Thursday to exchange proposed salary figures with their teams. That step typically results in players heading to a hearing, in which a panel decides between the two options. There have only been three Cubs players in the past three decades to head to a hearing.

Here is a breakdown of this year’s deals for the North Siders:

LHP Justin Steele

Deal: $4 million for ‘24

The 28-year-old Steele emerged as a National League Cy Young contender in ‘23, going 16-5 with a 3.06 ERA and 176 strikeouts in a career-high 173 1/3 innings. He made his first All-Star team and placed fifth in balloting for the Cy Young, giving Chicago a homegrown arm to help lead the rotation.

RHP Adbert Alzolay

Deal: $2.11 million for ‘24

After a career marred by injury setbacks, the 28-year-old Alzolay grabbed hold of the Cubs’ closer role by July last season. The righty finished with a 2.65 ERA in a career-high 58 games, finishing 38 games and saving 22 along the way. Alzolay had 67 strikeouts and 13 walks in 64 innings.

OF Mike Tauchman

Deal: $1.95 million for ‘24

Tauchman, 33, came up from Triple-A Iowa in May to help shore up the outfield and the journeyman quickly found a steady role with the Cubs. Tauchman hit .252/.363/.377 with eight homers, 18 doubles and 48 RBIs across 108 games. He played all three outfield spots, but mainly manned center on days Cody Bellinger moved to first base.

INF Nick Madrigal

Deal: $1.81 million for ‘24

Madrigal’s roster fit was unclear at the start of ‘23, but he worked hard at third base and posted some of baseball’s top defensive numbers (10 Outs Above Average) at the position. Injuries and his part-time role limited him to 92 games, but Madrigal still boasted an elite contact rate (92.2%) while hitting at a .263 clip.

RHP Mark Leiter Jr.

Deal: $1.5 million for ‘24

Leiter stepped up as a trusted setup man in ‘23, turning in a 3.50 ERA in a career-best 69 games for the Cubs. The right-hander amassed 77 strikeouts and 24 walks in 64 1/3 innings. Armed with a stellar splitter, Leiter limited left-handed batters to a .185 average and .568 OPS last season.

RHP Julian Merryweather

**Deal: **$1.175 million for '24

Merryweather joined Alzolay and Leiter to form the primary late-inning combination for the Cubs for the bulk of the ‘23 season. The hard-throwing Merryweather turned in his most complete season to date, racking up 98 strikeouts with a 3.38 ERA in 72 innings. He had a 2.58 ERA after a rough five-game stretch to start his season.