Today was the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to departing free agents in order to secure draft pick compensation should that free agent sign elsewhere.

As expected, the Chicago Cubs offered arbitration to Aramis Ramirez (he is not expected to accept the offer (which would net him a one-year deal), instead hoping to land a multi-year deal elsewhere – of returning to the Cubs, his agent said “that ship has sailed”), and did not offer arbitration to Kerry Wood (he is expected to be brought back on an extension, so the offer of arbitration was largely unnecessary). The offer to Ramirez will result in an extra draft pick for the Cubs. Swell.

The Cubs also offered arbitration to Carlos Pena, which was either a mild surprise or not a surprise, depending on whom you ask. The offer of arbitration, if accepted, would net Pena a one-year deal for 2012, worth anywhere from $10 million to $13 million (depending on the arbitration process). If he declines the offer, the Cubs will pick up an extra draft pick between the first and second rounds in the 2012 draft.

So, what will Pena do? And does the offer of arbitration suggest anything about the Cubs’ offseason plans?

It’s hard to say what has been discussed behind the scenes. Pena has openly said he’d like to return to the Cubs, and the offer of arbitration could be a precursor to an extension. Perhaps the Cubs aren’t interested in pursuing a Prince Fielder type, instead preferring Pena’s defense, leadership, and relative affordability.

On the other hand, perhaps the Cubs know that Pena will not accept the offer, believing he can pick up a multi-year deal for a lot more money on the market, particularly after Fielder and Albert Pujols sign. In that case, the Cubs were simple picking up an extra draft pick.

This will play out over the next week and a half, until the December 7 deadline for players to accept the offer of arbitration. I would expect to hear from Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer on the offers soon, but they might not say much of substance. One thing the offer suggests: we’re not going to see the Cubs making a major move on, for example, Prince Fielder until after December 7, unless they’re somehow certain Pena is going to decline the offer.

In short: for now, don’t read too much into the offer. It could mean the Cubs want Pena back; it could mean they know he’s not coming back.

And, for what it’s worth: arbitration contracts are not fully-guaranteed. A player who accepts arbitration can be terminated in the first half of Spring Training for just 30 days’ pay, and in the second half of Spring Training for just 45 days’ pay.

  • Luke

    Now that this is official, we know the Cubs can sign a Type A free agent without really losing anything in the draft. Their first round draft pick (#6) is protected, so signing a Type A can only cost them their second round pick. Now that they are all but guaranteed a compensation round pick (for Ramirez, once he turns down arbitration), the loss of that second round pick is greatly reduced.

    • Brett

      Ehhh, that’s kind of circular. The Cubs currently will have 3 or 4 picks between the first and second round. The Cubs very much want 3 or 4 picks between the first and second round. If they sign a Type A, they will have 2 or 3 picks between the first and second round. They’d rather have 3 or 4 picks (I could go on).

      It’s still a lost pick.

      That said, I agree that losing a second rounder is a slightly less egregious blow when you’ve already got 2 or 3 picks ahead of that one.

      • Luke

        “slightly less egregious” is probably better phrasing. That’s where I was going. A lost pick is a lost pick, but losing a pick when you have another bonus pick nearby isn’t as bad as just losing a pick.

  • die hard

    Move says front office is trying to stay within organization for 2012. If it turns out both end up here, thats ok if their positions are up for grabs in spring training to see what kids have to offer.

  • JK

    I don’t see Ramirez accepting. He is looking for his last 3 year deal. This does not help him. Pena is in a similar situation, but he is not a lock on another 3 year deal from some other org. Perhaps Pena’s 3 year 30M deal is looking better based on the numbers being thrown out there for Prince/Pujols. Pena is very close to being a Theo/Hoyer type of guy except for the strikeouts. His batting average is cancelled out by the number of walks he takes.

    • die hard

      If Pena would devote one at bat per game to go to left field, he would hit .275 and drive in more runs and possibly homers may go up as his eye would be better. As to Ramirez, he may want 3 but likely to get only 2 with club option on 3rd and at annual salary of no more than 10-12 mil. Any team offering more would be nuts.

      • Luke

        I would love to see Pena take the ball the other way, at least occasionally. At the very least that would keep the opposing shortstop and third baseman closer to their normal positions and open back up a hole on the right side for him.

        • Brett

          I want to say that Pena’s batting average on bunts this year was close to .500.

  • Seth Majewski

    pena 10-13 million? Yikes. rather just go with lahair

  • Larry

    It is nice to see that the new regime has brought with it some fresh new ideas with it, unlike the old one, under Hendry, who wouldn’t offer arbitration to anyone. it was almost like Hendry was scared of acquiring extra draft picks.

    • BetterNews

      Seth—At first I said Yikes too. But like Brett said, for what he brings to the plate and defense, and his personal attributes, he is considered “relatively” affordable, and what direction Theo is leaning in is a major question.

      Sorry Larry, the comment was meant for Seth.

      • Larry

        No worries.

  • BetterNews

    I think Pena accepts. He has stated he wants to remain a Cub and this would mean a nice raise also if you put him 13M. I really can’t see another team offering him a 3 year, say 40M contract.

    • Larry

      I see your point, but I have a hard time thinking that Boras lets him accept it. Boras wants to get Pena a bigger deal for more money than he will get by accepting arbitration.

      • BetterNews

        Yes, but I have not heard of any offers for Pena, and certainly no multi-year deals. Have you heard of any? Just interested as there might have been.

        • Larry

          I haven’t heard of any, and I am not saying that you are wrong. I just don’t think that Pena is the top priority for Boras right now. I believe that he will wait until Fielder and Albert have both been signed in order to try and find the “right” deal for Pena. He will market Pena as a reasonably priced alternative to the big two.

          • BetterNews

            Yes, yhat could be so. Both Cubs and Boras “gambling” big time on this one.

            • Larry

              No doubt about it, it is a gamble for both sides. I just hope that when all is said and done, Pena is playing somewhere else next year. I like Pena and I think he was a great clubhouse guy for the Cubs last year, but they need someone at first that will hit better than .225.

          • EtotheR

            Hard to know how Boras sets his priorities, but he’s always been pretty iron-clad about taking his clients to free agency. I wonder if the Cubs are hedging their bet that Boras will take Pena to FA.

            I always figure that these guys have played out the scenarios in the same way we do. By the time they are offered (or not offered) arbitration, they’ve got a sense of the market, what they want, and whether or not they’re going to accept.

            If this is true…I also wonder if teams have a pretty good idea of what the answer is, before they make the offer.

            • Brett

              It took me this long to realize your name says E to the R. I thought it was ET other, with weird caps thrown in. And I didn’t get it. Now I get it.

        • hogie

          I would assume he will garner more attention after the winter meetings/Pujols and Fielder come off the board.

          Edit: You beat me to it Larry

        • art

          agree, i think he stays here.

  • Spencer

    ESPN is reporting that the deadline to accept arbitration is Nov. 30, not Dec. 7.

  • Pat

    Given the lack of news regarding an interest in Ramirez I’m no longer convinced he doesn’t accept arbitration. I still have it as better then 50 percent he declines, but he’s guaranteed close to 12 million in arb, and likely closer to 14. Not impossible that he takes that if the interest in him is lukewarm.

    • BetterNews

      Pat—Good point! I had not thought about it until you mentioned it because I thought, like so many others, teams would be breaking down doors to get to Ramirez! But that has NOT been the case. Of course Boras is gonna beat the Ramirez drum, its his agent.

      You absolutely could be right, he just might accept!

      But by the same token, what does that “really” say about Ramirez?

      • Pat

        I still don’t think it’s likely, there’d be a lot of backtracking to do. But if they haven’t had much interest it’s possible. Being the best third baseman on the market is great, but if no one is desperate for one the options change.

        • Luke

          If teams are seeing Ramirez more as a bat than a third baseman, then his market will be set by Pujols / Fielder. Teams may look to him as a consolation prize.

          Also, questions around the CBA no doubt has slowed both the free agent and trade markets. Teams weren’t going to make any significant moves until they knew the rules of the road going forward. With the CBA done and the Winter Meetings on the horizon, I think we’ll see the free agent market start to come to a boil.

      • Larry

        Paul Kinzer is Ramirez’s agent not Scott Boras.

        • BetterNews

          Your right. But purely a technicality as Boras and Kinzer have been talking and the names are easy to confuse when who is representing whom. Me personally, I could care less who a players agent is, and I’m sure the player would tell you the same. The player is calling the shots.

  • Luke

    The Dodgers declined to offer arbitration to Kuroda. I could see the Cubs being interested, if for no more than two or three years.

    Cody Ross is another one that was not offered arbitration that I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs check in on, especially if they don’t land Cespedes.

    Not many other players on the no-arbitration list are jumping out at me. Some good players there, but not many that I think the Cubs would be interested in.

    Edit: I haven’t seen a decision on Betemit by the Tigers yet. If he is not offered arbitration, he might be worth a look from the Cubs.

    Edit 2: I should add that these guys are Type B’s, so they would not have cost the Cubs a pick regardless of their arbitration status.

  • Prince fielder

    I accept a Cubs offer of 5 years and 85 million . Questions put to rest

    • BetterNews

      Now we’re talking!

    • BetterNews

      Now we are sort of getting in the ballpark! 220 mil for anybody is outrageous! Things are out of hand.

      • Albert Pujols

        I accept a 4 yr/ 90mil deal to the Cubs and am going to move to 3B so Fielder can play his position comfortably

        • BetterNews

          Albert—I didn’t say all that! Please.

        • BetterNews

          Nobody said that at all. Not even suggested

        • Brett

          Best signing period ever!

        • EtotheR

          Not until you show us your AARP card…

    • Brett


  • Cliffy

    Yesterday was the first day that Junior Lake played in the Dominican League. He went 2 for 5 both singles and had 2 stolen bases. Nice start.

    • Brett

      I’m surprised he’s still playing – that’s a long season, especially if the Cubs are going to bring him to Spring Training.

  • rocky8263

    Brett, I apologize for what might be a dumb question. What is the white graphic next to Bleacher on the t shirt? Sort of looks like a tooth. Been looking at it since the weekend and can’t figure it out. Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    It’s the legs.

  • Chris

    On the Carlos Pena side if he is after money he will go elsewhere and get a contract simply because he is still owed 5 mil from the Cubs as part of last years contract if I remember correctly. I would like to see him back but we need to shed somemore big contracts and get younger. My take is Theo and Jed just want to stock up in the minors with more talent since the shake up in type B free agents in next years draft, I don’t really expect anything amazing to happen until year 3 or 4 of the Theo and Jed show but they will have a stout and deep team. I would love to see the Cubs be towards the bottom of MLB in wins for a year or two as painful as it is to truly say that I hope to see the Cubs lose but if we can get more top tier talent in the Minors and by that time the Phonzie deal is done and we can have a great offseason. Just my after Thanksgiving tummy stuff, turkey hangover ramblings