With the 2007 World Series history, today marks the beginning of the 15-day MLB Free-Agency Filing Period, where MLB players with at least six years of MLB service time who are not signed to a contract for 2008 are eligible to file for free-agency under Article XX of the CBA.
Players are immediately removed from their club's 40-man roster once they file for free-agency under Article XX, but clubs do retain exclusive negotiating rights with their own players over the length of the 15-day FA filing period (this year, that will be through November 12th).
However, players who have filed for free-agency are free to talk with the other 29 MLB clubs during the 15-day "exclusive" period, as long as they don't talk about money. That is, players who file can talk to any or all of the other 29 clubs about things like length of contract, no-trade clauses, the benefits of playing in a certain city, the local housing market, the best restaurants in town, where the player will hit in the batting order and/or play in the field, the question of a pitcher being used as a starter or reliever, et al. But they can't talk about money until the 15 day Free-Agency Fikling Period expires.
Players who sign a contract after the conclusion of the 15-day MLB Free-Agency Filing Period receive an automatic "no trade" right through June 15th of the following season. The player can waive this right, but if he does, he can be traded only for cash and/or other player(s) with contracts that have a maximum aggregate value of $50,000.
Players who re-sign with their previous club during the 15-day FA Filing Period do NOT receive an automatic "no trade" right through 6/15.
A club receives a compensation pick (or picks) in the 2008 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year player Draft) if one of its own free-agents is rated as a Type "A" or Type "B" MLB player (as determined by a statistical rating of all MLB players) and the player signs with another club by December 1st, or if the player's original club offers salary arbitration to the player by December 1st and the player ends up signing with a new team.
A club losing a Type "A" free-agent where either the player signed with a new club by December 1st--or was offered arbitration by his old club by December 1st and then signs with a new team--would receive the new club's 1st round pick in the 2008 Rule 4 Draft (if the new club is selecting 16-30 in the 1st round), or the new club's 2nd round pick if the new club selects 1-15 in the 1st round. The club losing the Type "A" FA would also receive a compensation ("sandwich") pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds.
A club losing a Type "B" FA receives only a "sandwich" pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds, and the pick is slotted AFTER all of the Type "A" compensation "sandwich" picks have been allocated. Last year, the Cubs received a compensation "sandwich" draft pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds (#48 overall) as the result of the Dodgers signing FA OF Juan Pierre
prior to December 1st, and the Cubs used the pick to draft catcher Josh Donaldson
out of Auburn.
If a FA is offered arbitration by his old club on December 1st and the player declines, the club can continue to negotiate with the player (along with any or all of the other 29 MLB clubs) until the player signs a new contract. If the player ends up re-signing with his old team, then no compensation picks are awarded.
If a FA is offered arbitration by his old club on December 1st and the player accepts (and he has until December 7th to decide), then he is no longer a FA. The player must be immediately placed back onto his club's 40-man roster, and the arbitration process begins.
A player who accepts arbitration and proceeds through the process all the way to a hearing receives a one-year contract that is not fully guaranteed. As is the case with salary arbitration, the club offers a figure, the player offers a figure, and the three-person arbitration panel chooses one or the other.
If a player accepts the arbitration offer on December 1st and ultimately signs a contract through the arbitration process (including a hearing), the club can release the player during Spring Training and is responsible for only 30-days' pay if the player is placed on Outright Release waivers at least 17 days prior to the start of the regular season, or 45 days' pay if the player is placed on Outright Release waivers at least three days prior to the start of the regular season.
However, a player cannot be released just because his club doesn't want to pay him his full year's salary. If a player believes he was released just for financial reasons, he can file a grievance, and then his club must provide a legitimate reason for the release (and a poor performance in Spring Training and/or getting beaten-out for a spot on the 25-man roster by another player could be considered legitimate reasons for release), or else the club is on the hook for the player's entire year's salary (minus a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary if the player signs with a new club).
Cubs players who are eligible to file for free-agency under Article XX of the CBA are:
, LHP ($3.8M player option for 2008)
, OF ($5.5M mutual option for 2008 worth up to $10M if all performance incentives are met)
, RHP ($4.75M club option for 2008 or $100K buy-out if club declines option)
, 1B-OF ($1.2M mutual option for 2008 or $50K buy-out if club declines option)
Of the six potential Cubs free-agents, I would say Eyre is VERY likely to exercise his contract option for 2008 and return (no way he gets $3.8M on the open market).
I can't see the Cubs exercising their club option on either Trachsel or Floyd, and I doubt that they have any interest in bringing back Kendall, either.
I do expect the Cubs will exercise their '08 club option on Ward, however. $1.2M for one year is probably about what he would get on the open market, so his choosing to return is probably just a matter of whether he likes Chicago and playing for the Cubs and Lou Piniella, and it seems like he does.
I believe the Cubs would like to re-sign Woody, but the question is for how much and for how long? If he's used as a middle-reliever as he was in 2007, then something like $3M per year (plus additional bonuses in case his role changes) for two or maybe three years would probably be about right. But he might be able to get more than that from somebody else (there may be MLB clubs looking at him as a closer or perhaps even as a rotation starter), and that would mean he could possibly get a lot more guaranteed money elsewhere.