I wouldn’t have been surprised either way, but today the Chicago Cubs tendered 2015 contracts to all but two of their ten arbitration-eligible players: Chris Coghlan, Luis Valbuena, Justin Ruggiano, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta, Felix Doubront, and Welington Castillo. The Cubs now have a little over a month to work out a salary for 2015 with these players (or a longer-term deal, as the case may warrant). Otherwise, the two sides will submit salary requests in January, and set a salary arbitration hearing for February. In the Cubs’ history, those hearings have been exceptionally rare.
I’d expect some of those deals to be announced relatively quickly, as negotiations have probably already started with some or all of these players. You can see MLBTR’s projections on salaries for these guys here. I’d probably pick nits here and there with a couple, but, on the balance, it’s a good ballpark.
The two players non-tendered are catcher John Baker and lefty reliever Wesley Wright. When I first discussed the Cubs’ arbitration eligible players, I called a Baker non-tender a “sure thing” and called Wright a “possibility.” It would be disingenuous for me to not now admit that I’d softened on those stances in recent days, but apparently I shouldn’t have.
With Baker, the Cubs can try and work out a deal, either for less than he was projected to make, or perhaps on a minor league contract. He was an adequate back-up, but the Cubs may have other options.
Wright was a much closer call, but, after a decent year (the 3.80 xFIP stands out as a modest red flag, though), he was probably going to make near $2 million. Given that the Cubs picked Wright off of the non-tender line last year, they may feel they can do as well in free agency this year. The Cubs’ only lefty options in the pen right now are Zac Rosscup and Joe Ortiz (and maybe the Cubs already think Ortiz is the guy who can replace Wright). But, keep in mind, there are also Travis Wood, Felix Doubront, Eric Jokisch, and Tsuyoshi Wada. There’s also traditional free agency and trades.
With the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 37.
Around the league, some of the interesting tender decisions so far:
- The Braves decided not to tender contracts to rehabbing pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, each of whom is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. I’m not sure there’s a fit with the Cubs (I lean toward the Brett Anderson/Brandon Morrow types), but these guys will be very popular reclamation targets.
- The A’s did go ahead and non-tender outfielder Kyle Blanks, who looks to me like one of the best buy-low/take-a-flyer outfielders out there at this point.
- The Angels non-tendered former White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, who has simply never put it together with the bat since his rookie year, all the way back in 2009. The 28-year-old will get a job, maybe even a big league deal, but it’s hard to see the upside anymore.
- 28-year-old shortstop Everth Cabrera, non-tendered by the Padres, is going to draw a ton of interest. He had something of a breakout in early 2013 before a collapse in performance, a PED suspension, and a DUI. He’ll be signed, probably for a healthy contract, by a team that isn’t the Cubs.