Try a Little Tenderness
Today is the day when contracts are tendered to players on MLB Reserve Lists who are unsigned for 2009.
Any player who is "non-tendered" today immediately becomes an unrestricted free-agent, and is free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any MLB club, including the club that non-tendered the player.
There are two types of unsigned players, so-called "arbitation-eligibles" (players who have accrued at least three years of MLB service time but less than six years, plus a handful of players who have between two and three years of MLB ST who qualify for arbitration as a "Super Two") and so-called "auto-renewals" (players who do not yet qualify for salary arbitration, so that the club can automatically renew the player's contract if an agreement cannot be reached by the first week of March).
"Auto-Renewal" players are almost always tendered contracts. The MLB minimum salary in 2009 will be $400K (up from $390K), and players must be offered at least the MLB minimum salary, and the salary offered must be no less than 80% of the player's 2008 salary. .
The only time you might see a club non-tender an "auto-renewal" is if the player was injured in winter ball (injured players can't be outrighted after 11/20 or prior to 16 days prior to the start of the next season), or if the player's roster slot is needed to add a free-agent who signs sometime just prior to 12/12, or to clear a roster slot to make room for a player acquired in a trade during the Winter Meetings.
Since the Cubs roster presently stands at 37, there is no reason not to tender contracts to the Cubs 20 auto-renewal guys.
Aribtration-eligible players are a completely different matter, however. A club cannot automatically renew the contract of an arbitration-eligible player. If the player and the club cannot agree on a salary, the player and the club submit a number, and a three-person arbitration panel picks one of the two figures. Since youi never know what the arbitrators are going to do (they base everything on statistics, comparing the player to what other players with similar stats & service time are paid), clubs tend to view a hearing as a "crap shoot," and most GMs usually do not want to take a chance of losing in arbitration.
Jim Hendry has a history of tendering arbitration-eligible players, but he has never gone to arbitration with a player. The normal outcome is that the Cubs and the player will find a middle-ground between the player's request and the club's offer, and so thus a hearing is avoided. Hendry is always more than willing to offer performance bonuses to increase the value of a deal if the player feels the base salary is too low. .
Arbitration-eligible players cannot be offered a base salary that is less than 80% of the player's previous year's salary, or less than 70% of the player's salary from two seasons ago (but if the player is non-tendered and then is re-signed, the maximum pay cut does NOT apply). So to know the minimum a player can get, you have to know the salary of each arbitration-eligible player from each of the last two seasons .
The Cubs have six players eligible for salary arbitration (2008 salary in parenthesis):
Ronny Cedeno ($407K)
Neal Cotts ($800K)
Chad Gaudin ($1.775M)
Kevin Gregg ($2.5M)
Reed Johnson ($2.07M - combined TOR and CUBS)
Michael Wuertz ($860K)
Reed Johnson made $2.17M in 2008 (a $870K severance when he was released by Toronto at the end of Spring Training and then a $1.3M salary from the Cubs), but he was paid $3.075M in 2007. Therefore, if Johnson is tendered, he cannot be paid less than 70% of his 2007 salary ($2.07M). So if he is tendered (and he almost certainly will be), I would think the Cubs will offer somewhere around the minimum-allowable $2.1M and Johnson will request something like $3M, with the player and club settling for around $2.5M And if the Cubs do settle with Johson prior to a hearing, the deal could be maybe $2.25M with up to $500K in incentives related to games played & plate appearances.
Gregg was a closer for much of 2008 so he should get a bump because of his save numbers. Therefore, the biggest disparity among Cubs aribtration-eligibles will probably be with Kevin Gregg,.The Cubs will likely offer Gregg about $3.5M, and Gregg will probably want about $5.5M, with the player and club perhaps agreeing to a $4.5M pre-hearing figure, although if the Cubs and Gregg do agree prior to getting to arbitration, it will probably involve the Cubs offering a lower base salary ($3.75M) but with maybe $1.5M in incentives related to appearances and games finished.
Chad Gaudin would probably get a bump up to at least $2.5M if his case were to make it to arbitration, but I would think the Cubs would not want to pay him anywhere near that much (guaranteed). I would bet the Cubs would prefer to offer Gaudin a relatively low base salary (about $1.5M, something close to the maximum allowable 20% cut) plus maybe another $1M in incentives based on appearances and/or games started (should he be moved to the starting rotation at some point). Since it is not clear if Gaudin would accept such a deal, he could get non-tendered, but with the Cubs hoping to re-sign him for less money after he becomes a free-agent (and good luck with that).
Cedeno, Wuertz, and Cotts are fairly simple to estimate. Whether it goes to arbitration or is settled prior to that, Cedeno will likely get around $750K, and Wuertz and Cotts will probably end up with something like $1.25M, with Wuertz and Cotts both likely to receive up to $250K in incentives.
Auto-renewal and aribtration-eligible players do not get guaranteed contracts, so they can get released during Spring Training.(as happened with Reed Johnson when he was with the Blue Jays last year) A player who is released at least 16 days prior to Opening Day receives 1/6 of his 2009 salary (potential incentives not included) as severance, and if a player is released prior to Opening Day but less than 16 days prior to the start of the season, the player gets 1/4 of his salary as severance (potential incentives not included). So even if they are tendered, any or all of the Cubs six arbitration eligible players could get released during Spring Training and the Cubs could save some 2009 payroll that way (should that become necessary or if that is desirable).
deno ended the season well even though ajax heavily cut into a lot of his chances to play. it's either him or ajax. i'm a bit partial to deno, but whatever...at least ajax isn't hitting 2nd.
Agreed. And, with Hendricks on the mound, Cubs will probably need to score some runs to win -- why not start Soler for his bat and bring in Ajax for defense later?
NEVER MIND....just re-read the lineup.
If the Cubs have the lead in the 8th, who pitches? Rodney? Travis? Yikes.
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.