Along the train tracks of the offseason, we hit a significant weigh station today: the tender deadline.
Today – by 7pm CT – teams must decide whether to tender a contract for 2019 to players who are under team control for next season, but aren’t yet signed to a contract. For players shy of arbitration, the tender means, “hey, we’re keeping you on the 40-man roster for now, and we’ll pay you what we pay you.” For players in their arbitration years, the tender means, “hey, we like you enough to go to the next step in the process, and exchange salary figures for next year, and let’s do that whole thing in January.”
Once an arbitration-eligible player is tendered, his contract is locked in at a yet undetermined rate for the following season, unless that player is dumped in Spring Training for termination pay (30 days or 45 days, depending on when you do it). That is to say, today’s deadline is significant – it’s the last chance to totally, fully cut bait without any costs – but it is not necessarily determinative. Players, of course, can also be traded later in the offseason even after they are tendered.
Still, you not infrequently see the kind of transaction activity we’ve already seen this week with new Cub Ronald Torreyes and former Cub Tommy La Stella. Sometimes those guys on the fence of a tender for their current team would not be on the fence for some other team. So they’re traded. We might see more of that today.
And then there are the special cases like Addison Russell. Currently suspended by MLB under the domestic violence policy – on a 40-man suspension that he accepted – Russell’s place in the organization is extremely uncertain. Many of us thought he wouldn’t even make it to this deadline still on the roster, but I expect that efforts to trade him have proved unsuccessful. Maybe the Cubs and partners just needed a deadline like today to force the action, or maybe other suitors out there are only barely interested, and are willing to see if the Cubs wind up non-tendering Russell today.
We’ll see. Even if Russell is tendered, as noted above, that doesn’t mean he’ll be on the Cubs’ roster next year. It just means the Cubs weren’t yet willing to drop him for nothing just yet. It’s obviously open for debate whether that’s the right approach.
Otherwise, we’ll see tenders made today, maybe even some contracts signed in advance of the deadline, some trades around baseball, and then some other roster decisions at the periphery. The Cubs’ 40-man stands at 39 right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is lower by the end of the day.
The Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players, by the way, together with their projected salaries by MLBTR:
- Kris Bryant – $12.4MM (2nd of 4 arbitration years)
- Kyle Hendricks – $7.6MM (2nd of 3 arbitration years)
- Javier Baez – $7.1MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Addison Russell – $4.3MM (2nd of 4 arbitration years)
- Kyle Schwarber – $3.1MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Mike Montgomery – $3.0MM (1st of 3 arbitration years)
- Carl Edwards Jr. – $1.4MM (1st of 4 arbitration years)
- Ronald Torreyes – $900K (1st of 4 arbitration years)