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Cubs avoid arbitration with five players

Cubs avoid arbitration with five players

CHICAGO -- The Cubs avoided arbitration on Tuesday by signing five players to one-year deals, but still have to reach agreements with three key players, including Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall.

Players and the team exchanged figures on Tuesday. Theriot and the Cubs are $800,000 apart. Theriot, 30, who made $500,000 last season, his third as the starting shortstop, is seeking $3.4 million while Chicago offered $2.6 million. Marmol, 27, who made $575,000 last year and heads into the 2010 season as the team's closer, is asking for $2.5 million. The Cubs offered him $1.75 million.

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Marshall, who will be competing for a spot in the rotation or could be a swingman again, asked for $1.175 million while the Cubs offered $800,000. The left-hander made $450,000 last season.

The Cubs had eight players file for salary arbitration, and were able to sign Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill, Angel Guzman and Tom Gorzelanny to one-year deals on Tuesday.

The Cubs and Theriot, Marmol and Marshall can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. Hearings will be held Feb. 1-21. Arbitrators listen to arguments from both sides about the player's value and then pick either the player's figure or the team's figure.

The Cubs have not gone to arbitration since 1993. The team has a 3-2 record in such cases. The last hearing was in 1993 when Mark Grace filed for $4.1 million and the Chicago offered $3.1 million. The Cubs won that case.

This is the first year any of the eight were arbitration eligible. They all have at least three years but less than six years of service in Major League Baseball. Fontenot became eligible as a "Super Two" player because he finished in the top 17 percent of players with at least two, but less than three years of Major League service. Fontenot has two years, 139 days of service time.

Fontenot, 29, signed a $1 million contract. Tabbed the Opening Day second baseman in 2009 after hitting .305 the previous season, Fontenot became a part-time player when he batted .236 in 135 games. He's projected to share time at second with Baker, 28, acquired from the Rockies last July 2 for pitcher Al Alburquerque. Baker, who signed for $975,000, batted .305 in 69 games with the Cubs and can back up at third and outfield if needed.

Hill, 30, who signed a $700,000 deal, was the ironman catcher for the Cubs when Geovany Soto was injured. Hill made 26 consecutive starts from July 7-Aug. 5, the first Cubs catcher to start that many since Jody Davis started 38 straight games in 1986. Hill batted .237 in 83 games.

Gorzelanny, 27, signed a $800,000 contract. He will be competing for a spot in the rotation. The lefty was acquired July 30 from Pittsburgh along with John Grabow for Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison. In 13 games with the Cubs, including seven starts, Gorzelanny was 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA. He limited opponents to a .192 batting average as a reliever.

Guzman, 28, compiled a 2.95 ERA in 55 relief appearances, holding opponents scoreless in 40 games, including 34 of his final 42 games. The right-hander, who signed an $825,000 deal, posted a 2.03 ERA in 27 games at Wrigley Field.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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