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Isn’t it nice when something that is “expected to happen soon” actually does happen soon?

As I noted this morning, the Chicago Cubs designated infielder Blake DeWitt for assignment 11 days ago to make room for Adrian Cardenas. With 10 days to settle a DFA, we expected something to happen yesterday or today.

Well, it did. DeWitt, 26, cleared waivers, and the Cubs have elected to send him to AAA Iowa. (UPDATE: DeWitt has apparently been outrighted once before in his career, which allows him to reject this assignment and become a free agent if he so chooses.)

DeWitt will likely be a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, where he’ll fight for a roster spot. If he makes the team, he’ll earn $1.1 million in 2012. If he doesn’t make the team, the Cubs will have another decision to make. It’s possible the Cubs would look to move DeWitt to another team at that point, or perhaps he would serve as depth at AAA for one more year.

The Cubs could have released DeWitt now, hoping that a team would pick him up, thus saving the Cubs about half of the $1.1 million he’s owed for 2012. But, here’s the thing – DeWitt’s contract might not be guaranteed (if, that is, the one-year deal he signed to avoid arbitration was not guaranteed, like the contract he would have received in arbitration). Without going into the nitty-gritty, if DeWitt doesn’t make the team in Spring Training, the Cubs can cut him while only having to pay about 20% of his contract. So, by not releasing him, they actually will have a theoretical chance to save more money. (In fact, I could be mistaken, but the Cubs could have already taken advantage of this procedural maneuver.)

Going into Spring Training, DeWitt will primarily be battling for a reserve role, with Darwin Barney the expected starter at second base, and Cardenas fighting for time there as well.

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