Today is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players (generally, those players with three to five years’ of service time). The Chicago Cubs have six such players: Jeff Baker, Tom Gorzelanny, Koyie Hill, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Geovany Soto.
Four (Gorzelanny, Marmol, Marshall, and Soto) are no-brainer offers. Baker and Hill are closer calls, but apparently, the Cubs are leaning toward tendering a contract.
I expect the Cubs to tender contracts to all of their players by Thursday’s deadline to do so.
That means arb-eligible guys Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol will be offered contracts. The only questions were the first three players on that list, but you can put them down as back in the fold. GM Jim Hendry likely will try to work out deals soon for Gorzelanny, Baker and Hill to avoid arbitration. Marshall and Marmol will be in line for nice raises, as will Soto after a nice bounce-back year. DailyHerald.com.
First, Baker. The decision to tender a contract to Baker is understandable, if inadvisable. He made $975,000 last year, and would be in line for a slight raise. Is a guy who crushes lefty pitching (but sucks against righties) and who can play several positions adequately (but none well) worth $1 million? Is he worth that much on a team with a budget crunch and young players like Darwin Barney would could probably take his spot? I say no, but it’s at least debatable.
Tendering Koyie Hill is not debatable. It’s criminal.
Hill made $700,000 last year, and would make more in 2011 if tendered a contract. He catches a decent game, but he provides absolutely nothing at the plate – he is, with very little competition, one of the worst offensive catchers in baseball. His career OPS is .578 (you read that right), his career OPS+ is 49 (you read that right), and his OPS+ last year was 44 (you read that right). And he’s 31, so it’s all downhill from that seemingly already subterranean point.
But everyone’s gotta have a backup catcher you say? I agree. That’s why the Cubs have two other backup catchers on their 40-man roster – Robinson Chirinos and Welington Castillo. They are young and unproven, to be sure. But why have them on the roster if you’re just going to re-sign the same old retread in Koyie Hill? They take up valuable 40-man roster space, and they never get a chance to prove that they can be a more cost-effective option at the ML-level than Hill.
Hill may be a great teammate. He may be a hard worker. The pitchers may like him. But there is simply no excuse for an organization scraping and clawing for every dime to tender him a contract at this time. At worst, the Cubs could non-tender him, and re-sign him for the Major League minimum. Perhaps I’m naive, but I can’t fathom another team being willing to pay him more than $700,000 in 2011.