As expected, today, free agents Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena declined the Chicago Cubs offers of arbitration, which offers were made for the purposes of picking up compensatory draft picks when/if the two sign elsewhere.
Ramirez is an obvious case, as he is not returning to the Cubs. He has a number of suitors, and he’ll make some scratch this Winter. In doing so, the Cubs will get a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds in 2012. Good luck, Aramis.
As for Pena, the decline of arbitration, in and of itself, does not preclude Pena’s return to the Cubs in 2012. Recall, an arbitration offer is for a one-year deal, for which the salary is typically a hair over the previous year’s salary (unless the dude had an unusually good year, then the raise can be substantial). Against that backdrop, because Pena believes he can get a multi-year deal, it’s easy to understand why he declined the offer.
But would the Cubs re-sign him on a multi-year deal? Pena loved his time in Chicago, and has professed a desire to return.
All in all, I doubt he’ll be back. The way Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have talked about Pena the last couple weeks – all positive, but very “moving-on”-like – coupled with his age (34 next year) and expense (he could get two years and $20 million or more), strongly suggest to me that he won’t be back.
If all other options go elsewhere, there are no trades to be had, and the market for Pena dries up, it’s possible the Cubs could bring him back on an inexpensive one-year deal. But, given that Pena just declined an offer like that via arbitration, he must be fairly confident it won’t come to that.