Cubs, catcher Willson Contreras avoid arbitration with agreement before hearing

The move bucked the Cubs’ ‘‘file-and-trial’’ policy under unique circumstances.

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The Cubs and catcher Willson Contreras avoided arbitration in the eleventh hour.

The Cubs and catcher Willson Contreras avoided arbitration in the eleventh hour.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

NEW YORK — The Cubs and catcher Willson Contreras struck a deal before their scheduled arbitration hearing Thursday, bucking the club’s usual ‘‘file and trial’’ policy.

The parties agreed to terms on a $9.625 million salary for 2022, a Sun-Times source confirmed, splitting the difference between the figures each side filed in March.

‘‘I think if we had the regular time that we’ve had in years before, we would probably work it out,’’ Contreras told the Sun-Times in the spring. ‘‘But this year, there’s basically no time to negotiate anything [because of the lockout].’’

Instead, the Cubs made time and made an exception after the lockout pushed back the arbitration calendar, forcing hearings into the regular season. Hearings usually are held in February.

Contreras is in his final year of club control and, unless he signs a contract extension, is expected to be the top all-around catcher in the free-agent class after the season. He also might be a valuable trade candidate at the deadline.

‘‘I’m trying not to think about it,’’ Contreras said this week of the trade deadline. ‘‘ . . . If I happen to get traded, I hope it’s to a good team that has a chance to go to the World Series. Or if a trade doesn’t happen, I’ll be happy to stay and keep competing with my teammates.’’

Contreras, who is leading all qualified Cubs in on-base percentage (.403) and slugging percentage (.530), is making a case for his third All-Star selection. He entered Thursday leading major-league catchers with 10 home runs.

The Cubs looked poised to take Contreras to a hearing, with president Jed Hoyer reiterating early in the season that the team’s policy is to end negotiations at the deadline to exchange figures. The late agreement, however, avoided a process in which both sides make their cases in front of an independent panel.

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