Michael Wuertz

Time to retire the "worst-Wuertz" puns as Jim Hendry moves another player without any options for 2009. As we heard yesterday, the Cubs do end up dealing Michael Wuertz to the Athletics for outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers. Scouting reports and pertinent info on the newbies after the jump...

Yet another rumor of the Cubs trying to move a player who is out of options. Some of our readers overheard on the radio that the Athletics and Rangers are having talks with the Cubs over Michael Wuertz. Moving Wuertz who is due to make $1.1M in 2009, would free up some salary and some space in the Cubs bullpen and make Kent Sterling a happy man. Under the assumption the Cubs carry 12 pitchers, their current staff would be:

Starters: Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Heilman

Relievers: Marmol, Gregg, Vizcaino, Wuertz*, Cotts*, Guzman*, Gaudin*

* players out of options

I'm guessing on Heilman being the 5th starter, but that wouldn't leave any room for the loser of the 5th starter battle (assuming Samardzija or Marshall are the other competitors), nor any of the non-roster invitees. And I think it would be wiser to try and move these guys before spring training rather than during. The other teams would probably prefer to have them working with their staff for the duration of camp and you don't risk a player getting hurt or sucking up joint so bad that they have almost no trade value and you have to cut them. There's the flip side where they pitch well and you still have to move them and could possibly get more, but there's not a lot of teams that have room on their 25-man roster by the end of spring training.

If the Cubs are dealing with the A's, can they get Sean Gallagher or Josh Donaldson back?

Today is the day when contracts are tendered to players on MLB Reserve Lists who are unsigned for 2009.

Angel Guzman (September '07 TJS) had what was likely his final rehab outing last night at Iowa, pitching the 8th & 9th in a GF non-save situation in an I-Cubs victory, throwing two shutout inings (31 pitches - 23 strikes). With his minor league rehab going well, I fully expect the Cubs to reactivate Guzman from the 60-day DL on Monday when the MLB active rosters expand to 40.

The Cubs and reliever Michael Wuertz agreed to a one-year deal worth $860,000 today, continuing Hendry's policy of avoiding arbitration. Wuertz, who made $415,000 last year, had submitted a $975,000 figure, with the Cubs offering $750,000.

Regardless of how arbitration might have gone, the Cubs get a premium middle reliever for under a million bucks. Wuertz's ERA+ numbers for the last two years are 174 and 134. As the relevant mlb.com article points out, last year he ranked second in the league in percentage of inherited runners stranded. Finally, Dan Szymborski's "ZiPS" projection system puts Wuertz's 2008 ERA at 3.33, second on the team behind Howry. The awesomeness of Wuertz's contract only escalates when compared against Hendry's pattern of signing veteran middle-relievers to three-year, multi-million dollar contracts.

The last Cubs player to go to arbitration remains Mark Grace in 1993.

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