Cubs Are Interested in at Least Two of Yesterday’s Non-Tenders: Luke Scott and Joe Saunders

Yesterday’s tender deadline impacted the Chicago Cubs not only in terms of which in-house players the Cubs would retain, but also in terms of which out-house (not a real expression, but it should be one) players might interest the Cubs should they be non-tendered by their own team.

To that end, about 29 players got the heave-ho yesterday, flinging them into free agency, and a number of names are bound to interest the Cubs.

Two of the non-tender names that will interest the Cubs, which I heard almost immediately from a team source last night, are outfielder/first baseman Luke Scott and pitcher Joe Saunders.

Scott, 33, is just one year removed from a .284/.368/.535 (144 OPS+) season, and interests the Cubs as a possible fall-back option at first base, should more attractive alternatives fall through. The Orioles non-tendered Scott, who was in his last year of arbitration, presumably because he would have been receiving a raise on his $6.4 million 2011 salary, despite playing in only 64 games last year. Scott dealt with a torn labrum last year that cost him a number of games, and left him with a meager .220/.301/.402 line. If he’s healthy, he’ll get looks from a number of teams looking for a first baseman or corner outfielder, or a guy who can adequately back-up a number of positions.

Saunders, 30, is also in his final year of arbitration, and was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks largely because of the Trevor Cahill acquisition. He’s coming off a fine 107 ERA+ season, where he put up a 3.69 ERA over 33 starts and 212 innings. Saunders doesn’t strike many out, but he also doesn’t walk anybody. As a solid lefty starter, he’ll interest a number of teams as a back-end option, including the Cubs. Saunders made $5.5 million in 2011.

The Cubs, among many other teams, might also take a look at some of the non-tender relief options like Jose Mijares, Aaron Laffey, Peter Moylan and Micah Owings, though the bullpen is probably the Cubs’ lone strength at this point. If they do add to the pen from the ranks of the non-tendered, look for them to prefer someone like Owings, who can hold down a swing role, and could be that 8th/9th/10th starting pitcher the Cubs are hoping to lock down (that is to say: they want depth. Lots and lots of depth).

MLBTradeRumors put together a list of all of yesterday’s tender decisions. Other notable non-tenders include former Cubs Ryan Theriot and Rich Hill, utility infielder Jeff Keppinger, and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs.

Kendrys Morales, as had been expected in the last two days, was tendered by the Los Angeles Angels. If the Cubs still hope to pursue Morales, it’ll now have to be through trade. And, despite their suggestions that Mark Trumbo can play third, and Bobby Abreu could be dealt, and Alberto Callaspo could take on a utility role, and so on, I still believe the Angels will be more than happy to deal Morales. The question: how much would you really give up for a guy who hasn’t played a game in a year and a half, and whose health is still somewhat in question? And, would you count on him to be the starting first baseman come Opening Day, to the exclusion of other possible options now available?

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

58 responses to “Cubs Are Interested in at Least Two of Yesterday’s Non-Tenders: Luke Scott and Joe Saunders”

  1. ottoCub

    Luke Scott is primarily an outfielder — only played 41 MLB games at 1B. After the injury, he strikes me as a better DH than outfielder? He’s a career .264 hitter with an .843 OPS. The OBP is nice (.349) and the 2/1 strikeout to walk ratio isn’t terrible for a guy who hits 20-25 hrs. Scott would be less risky than LaHair at 1B, but much more expensive (probably around 6.5 – 7 million). It’s also worth comparing these numbers to Peña, who would cost a bit more, but play much better defense.

    Peña and Scott are the same age, and their career SLG%, OPS, and OPS+ numbers are similar. Peña has a lower average (.239), puts fewer balls in play (more strikeouts and walks), hits more home-runs, and drives in more runs. He also has a lot more experience at first base and is a much better defensive option. If the Cubs want to keep Peña, they’ll need to offer more money than Scott, and a longer contract too (probably in the 3 year/30 million range?)

    1. ottoCub

      Both Peña and LaHair are better options than Scott at 1B. Peña is a known quantity. LaHair is inexpensive, but he is a risk (or an opportunity, depending on how you look at it!)

      1. Lou

        Defensively though can LaHair play at the major league level. Maybe but Scott is inexpensive as well, put up the numbers at the MLB level, and LaHair strikes me as a DH as well. Why exactly would the Cubs sign Pena to a 3 year deal? Sometimes, you have to proven MLB for a MLB team. And in Scott’s case, if they come relatively cheap, you do so. Especially if you’re not going anywhere next year and don’t plan to make a big splash by signing Fielder. Sorry, this isn’t the I-Cubs–it’s the CHICAGO CUBS.

      2. cubs4life

        What about playing LaHair in LF? assuming the cubs can move sori? yeah he probably will be a defencive liability, but he cant possibly be worse than sori either.. and if the cubs can sign a starter maybe 2 plus go get a good first baseman, either fielder if possible or even one of the handfull of names that have been floating around that has decent pop in their bat, i think the cubs could quite possibly compete, expecially in the central this year.

        1. DeJesus RF (Jackson)
        2. Castro SS
        3. LaHair LF
        4. Prince 1B
        5. Byrd CF(Jackson)
        6. Stewart 3B
        7. Barney 2B (or upgrade via free agent)
        8. Soto C
        (truely think DeJesus is much more of the 4th outfielder type but Jackson still has to prove hes ready in the spring)

        Along with a possible pitching rotation of Garza, Dempster, Big Z, Saunders, and maybe Wells/Shark/Cashner in the fifth spot.
        At least on paper it doesnt look to bad, and wouldnt require much many more moves and the most expensive would be the addition of a 1st baseman, which will probably cost us reguardless which way we go, either money for fielder, or prospects via trade.

    2. Noah

      I’m not sure if Pena would require a 3 year deal, just because I’m not sure what the market for him will look like. With that said, I’d be willing to do a two year deal with Pena, although I’d hope that Theo realizes he needs a right handed hitting caddy. At that point we should have a good idea of how quickly Vogelbach is progressing right as Votto will be about to hit free agency.

  2. RoughRiider

    I like Saunders and Owings is a former draft pick of the Cubs who could be a good choice to pick up for his bat as well as a possible swing role.

  3. Deer

    I will be seriously pissed if the Cubs opening day 1B is Luke Scott. I get the concept of looking at usually solid players coming off a bad one, but at every position??

  4. Sam

    As a resident of Baltimore MD and being somewhat of an Os fan myself I can say with absolute certanty that luke scott is trash. I could see him being a good DH,maybe. Last year the Os benched him in favor of Felix Pie, need I say more?

    1. Lou

      But didn’t he have a serious injury last year? His 2009-2010 stats do seem trashy to me? Not saying I want the guy but with all the Chicago media prevalent talk that “there’s no way the Cubs sign Fielder”, I don’t want LaHair as our starting 1b. He reminds me too much of Hoffpauir–talk about trash!

  5. Deer

    Doesn’t he also have some wild political views which is he’s not afraid to preach about? We don’t need that crap. Fielder or Lahair in 2012.

    1. Hcs

      Agreed. He seems like a total ass.

  6. BFM

    Brett

    Refresh my memory.
    IF the Cubs go after someone like Luke Scott, who was not tendered, do they have to meet last year’s salary amount or can they simply offer him any number in salary they want and create a new contract. What I mean is, just because he made $6.4 million last year, can the Cubs sign him to a contract of lesser value?

    BFM

    1. SeanC

      I am clearly not Brett, but I can tell you that a team could in fact sign Scott to a sub $6.4 mill obligation as long as Scott agreed to it.

  7. SeanC

    Thanks for spelling Kendrys first name correctly. It boggles my mind that national media outlets still can’t get it right. Keep up the great journalistic integrity my friend.

  8. ottoCub

    I’d like to see the Cubs make a reasonable bid for Saunders. He’s a 200-inning, strike-throwing leftie, a much-needed addition to the rotation.

    1. ottoCub

      And if the Cubs 2012 season doesn’t go anywhere, he might pick up a couple decent prospects at the trade deadline.

      1. Lou

        Thing is with what I would imagine would be lots of teams interested in him, Saunders is going to get a contract for at least 2 maybe 3 years. Don’t see him as trade bait during the deadline.

    2. Luke

      Saunders looks like an obvious sign for a lot of teams. I think the Cubs bullpen would breath a sigh of relief if Saunders were to sign. The rotation needs a steady 200+ inning guy.

      1. hansman1982

        Agree, if we get him that gives us 3 guys who can make it into the 7th most games (Garza, Dempster and Saunders) another guy who will make it into the 6th (Z) and a Wells/Shark/Cashner triple threat.  Would be interesting to see some sort of rotation for the 5th slot.  I have wondered why they don’t do a 4/4 rotation with their 5th and 6th starter.  Those guys typically arent very good to begin with so odds are one of the two is only going to last an inning or two which frees him up for long relief for a day or two in between but they both stay moderately stretched out incase of injury.

      2. MoneyBoy

        Boy oh boy … was gonna make an Edwin Jackson/Saunders comparison until I saw EJax is a FA with Boras as his agent.   Saunders brings some value as a LH, 200+ inning, back of the rotation guy.

        1. Lou

          Yeah, if you’re most teams out there, who would you sign? Good point.

  9. Noah

    I feel bad saying this, because I generally don’t care what the political views of my teams’ athletes are, but if Luke Scott is going to come to the North Side he has to understand he’s not to make any statements like he did over the past couple of years. He can’t call Starlin Castro a monkey (or whatever animal he called Felix Pie), he can’t raise the birtherism junk, and he can’t be gay bashing less than a mile from boys town. He might have gotten away with that in Baltimore, but not many people actually care about the Orioles there all that much anymore.

    I don’t find Saunders that intriguing. The advanced metrics show him as more of a 4.50 ERA type (he doesn’t K anyone) who got lucky last year (.271 BABIP against).

    I’d also be perfectly happy with any of the relief pitching options, as long as they’re cheap.

    Two guys I do find more intriguing as potential fourth outfielder types: Ryan Spilborghs, who probably is not as good of a fielder as Reed Johnson, but walks more and hits for more power. I’m also interested in Jeremy Hermida, who has failed to meet his promising 2007 season but has the talent to walk and hit for power and will still only be 28 at the start of next season.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      Hermida is an interesting name. Theo acquired him at one point in Boston, but then cut him half a season later. I’m guessing he had seen enough. But…he was interested enough to acquire him in the first place…maybe he still is? The guy had great potential, and he’s still young. He also put up good numbers in the minors last season.

  10. Dougy D

    Okay Brett, or another stat nerd on the website (don’t worry, I am just jealous because I don’t know what all the stat lines are these days and I am just trying to join your ranks). What does ERA stand for in this situation:

    “He’s coming off a fine 107 ERA+ season, where he put up a 3.69 ERA over 33 starts and 212 innings. ”

    Or maybe I should say ERA+ now that I look at it more closely. Obviously ERA stands for Earned Run Average, so what is the ERA+?

    1. hansman1982

      ERA+ is an attempt to take out ballpark and league factors and rate everyone to an average starting pitcher (who would have an ERA+ of 100)  Someone having an ERA+ of 107 is said to be 7% better than average. ERA+ of 95 is 5% worse than average. 

      Someone who has an ERA+ of -197 is said to either be dead, or James Russell as a starter.

      1. Dougy D

        HAHA! That’s good. Thanks for the info. It’s much appreciated.

  11. NebCub

    I don’t know how much a I would give up to get him but I would love to get Morales. I wouldnt count on him for opening day though. I would plan on him being ready by early to mid may and I would give LaHair the job till he was healthy and ready to take over. Then I found find a place for LaHair in the lineup if he proved he could handle major league pitching in the first month and a half.

  12. ferrets_bueller

    Absolutely do I NOT want anything to do with Luke Scott. First of all, he’s an a$$wipe.

    Second of all, taking everything but baseball out of it, he’s a guy who has no defensive position. He’s a horrible OF, and hasn’t played 1B much. He’s also a platoon type guy, who routinely has sat against left handed pitching in his career.

    I’m really not interested…if we’re not going to sign fielder, or trade for someone, I’d much, much rather see Pena back.

  13. Cubsklm

    I for one am not thrilled about a lineup of both DeJesus & Luke Scott. Scott has been an injury risk his whole career and very very streaky hitter. I would rather watch an OF of Jackson, Cespedes, & Borbon (TX) or Span (Min) with DeJesus being the 4th OF.

    Span or Borbon CF
    Barney 2B
    Castro SS
    Prince or Morales 1B
    Stewart 3B
    Cespedes, RF
    Soto C
    Jackson LF

    A starting pitching staff of Garza, Dempster, Saunders, Darvish, and Z would be OK. Then trade Z at the trade deadline.

    Our bullpen is set.

    1. DowntownLee

      Wishful thinking. No way we can get Darvish, Cespedes and Prince/Morales. Darvish might cost 40M just to negotiate with.

    2. Dougy D

      I like Z as the number 5 starter. If he is allowed to be on this team, of course because of his huge contract, he should sit back and watch professionals do their job before he can do anything. And by professionals, I mean anyone on the club but him.

  14. Clark Addison

    Luke Scott sounds like a player we would love to hate.

    Hopefully the Cardinals sign him.

    1. ferrets_bueller

      dreams can come true, right? I have a feeling Cardinal fans would love the guy….he’s right up their alley.

  15. Cubbies4Life

    Pena or Fielder at FB. What’s so hard about that?

  16. cubincardinalland

    Luke Scott is a right wing nut job. Talked last year about Obama being a foreigner and does not represent true Americans. He would fit right in with Bill DeWitt and the Cardinals.

    1. ari gold

      Lets leave politics off here.

      1. Hcs

        When it speaks to the character of the player, it bears relevance. We root against wife-beaters, steroid users, Pete Rose, and A.J. Pierczynski… Why can’t we voice opinions on dangerous nutjobs as well?

  17. CubSouth

    I like Moylan, if we were to beef up our bullpen. He’s coming off of TJS but I’ve seen him play his whole career in Atl and has been a great 7th inning guy. If he is cheap he is definitely worth the risk. Great teammate as well. I went to Bobby Cox’s jersey retiring game and Chipper told a funny story about him. Plus when he was on the shelf he was in the dugoit keeping the team loose. Before TJS, he was as dominant as they get.

  18. Ashley

    I would like to see the Cubs go after Saunders, he would be a good addition to the rotation.

  19. Sayueri

    Oh NO! Anyone but Scott.

  20. jim

    Keppinger plays well anywhere. Dont forget, matt murton rules, and tuffy ruled, in japan.

  21. Hawkeyegrad

    Darvish is interesting. He throws at an average of 94 MPH and throws strikes (two things the competition level doesn’t impact). He projects as a #2 with the downside of a #3-#4 (Dice-K) and the upside of a #1. I would like to see the Cubs take a risk here and try to get him for $15 million per ($45 million posting/$45 million over 6 years…I’m not sure that gets him) and deal Garza for prospects. I think we are looking at paying Garza $12-$13 million per year if we extend him so it would cost us $2-$3 million per year (assuming he is extended this offseason) which would not preclude us from getting Prince, and we would get some very good prospects to fill other holes that you hope turn out to be worth more then the $2-$3 million per year more you spend relative to Garza. If Darvish performs like a #1 you kill it. If he performs like a #2 you win the gamble given the high level prospects you get in the deal. If he ends up like Dice-K (the downside), you still get around half the contract back in value (Dice-K’s WAR converted value has been $45 million over 5 years even with the injuries) plus the high level prospects you get for Garza. You lose that deal but it is not a terrible result.

    We are in a better position to take this gamble then other teams who are in the “must win now” mode like the Rangers. Garza is the much safter pick for them.

  22. die hard

    Would rather Cubs use that 100 mil to fix the ballpark starting with better wheel chair access, more bathrooms, and better heaters throughout for games in April and Sept…

  23. James Smith

    How about this
    1. Peter burjos of via trade w/ angels send mormal for straight up
    2. Starlin castro
    3. Ian stewart
    4. Prince fielder sign to a 7 year deal for 140 million
    5.chase headley send chris charpenter josh vitters and darwin barney
    6. Soto look for trades to help rotation
    7. Jackson
    8.byrd/lahair/dejesus/soriao

    Matt garza
    Joe saunders ( non-tender)
    Big z
    Joel pinero unless he resigned he’s a reasonable free agent
    Demp/wells

    Set up chris sean marshal
    Closer andrew cashner he’s more of a closer than a starter

    How’s that sound its reasonable fairly cheap except fielder but in the trades your not giving up a huge ton of prospects but your getting good average veryday players in return plus I think that team is young enough that u can still develope players in the minors longer and its not exspensive like I said other than fielder but with brewers and cards weakening that’s a lineup that could potientaly win 90 gamess and the division if all stay healthy

  24. clark addison

    Scott is either a nut job or a moron, or both. And a mediocre ballplayer.

    Stay far, far away.