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?