As mentioned this morning, while tonight’s tender deadline usually keeps people focused on arbitration-level players, it isn’t a deadline just for arbitration-level players. It’s also the deadline to offer 2022 contracts to pre-arbitration players, and although they are not fully guaranteed deals, teams still do make retention decisions about those players on this date.
Primarily, for guys who are on the bubble, a team might let him know that he won’t be retained on the 40-man roster, but the team would like to sign him right now to an over-minimum minor league deal. If he accepts, great. If he doesn’t, he’s non-tendered, and hits the market as a free agent.
It looks like the Cubs have made one of their close calls already, and it’s going to mean a non-tender for outfielder Michael Hermosillo. He suggested it on Twitter, and I believe this is his agent confirming it:
FREE AGENT ALERT! I can CONFIDENTLY state Michael Hermosillo is a 5-tool impact player that has not had an opportunity for consistent play. GIVEN THE TRUE OPP HE WILL SHIIIIINE!!! #mlb #FreeAgent https://t.co/btR0sVwhzN pic.twitter.com/RQhj0yrGLL
— SMPLonnie (@SMPLonnie) November 30, 2021
To be sure, that doesn’t necessarily rule out a new minor league deal later in the offseason, but it’s also very possible that Hermosillo finds a better deal or better fit elsewhere. He is out of minor league options, which is a major factor in what makes it so hard to keep him on the 40-man roster (he’d either have to make the big league team out of Spring Training, or hit waivers), and could preclude him from finding a big league deal elsewhere.
I still feel like Hermosillo hasn’t gotten a real shot at regular playing time, and the injuries last year didn’t help. But what he was showing at Triple-A Iowa was awfully impressive, and I can see a big league contributor in there if he gets a shot.
As for the Cubs, this clarifies the Harold Ramirez trade a little bit, as his path toward being the big right-handed outfield bat is a little more clear. Similarly, it clarifies the Narciso Crook signing a little bit. Still could see the Cubs adding another outfielder on a minor league deal, but their focus there might otherwise turn toward signing a sure-fire big league contributor in the outfield. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Also, as noted previously: The Iowa outfield could be a bit crowded in terms of regular playing time, with all of Brennen Davis, Nelson Velazquez, Greg Deichmann, Crook, Jared Young, Christopher Morel, and Nelson Maldonado needing regular starts, much of which will have to come in the outfield. I wouldn’t yet call it an OVERly crowded group, but moving guys around between first base and DH is going to buy only so many ABs for fringe guys and reclamation types. (Heck, it’s conceivable the Cubs could even want infielders like Chase Strumpf and Levi Jordan to see time in the outfield at Iowa for versatility purposes.)