To tender or not to tender, that’s the next question for the front office.
Tuesday (11:00pm CST) is the deadline to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. The Cubs have 10 players on the roster that are arbitration eligible for next year and 22 players with 0-3 years (automatic renewals) of service time the front office must decide whether or not to offer contracts to for next season. Players not tendered contracts become free agents.
The deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures is Jan. 16 and teams can avoid the arbitration process at any point until the hearing begins. Arbitration hearings are scheduled in February (Feb. 1-21).
Travis Wood has been mentioned as a non-tender candidate and it’s really difficult to see the Cubs not offering a 27-year old (turns 28 in February) lefty a contract. John Baker is the other non-tender candidate currently on the Cubs 40-man roster.
Jake Arrieta is arbitration eligible for the first time after a breakout year. Arrieta was 10-5 in 25 starts with a 2.53 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 2.26 FIP. Arrieta struck out 167 batters with only 41 walks in 156 2/3 innings. Arrieta emerged as the No. 1 starter on the Cubs’ staff and should receive a hefty pay increase to avoid arbitration.
The Cubs paid Arrieta $544,500 last year and he is looking at a similar one-year contract that Travis Wood received last winter. Wood jumped from $527,000 to $3.9 million and Arrieta should be in the $3.9-4.2 million range for the 2015 season.
There were reports toward the end of the season Arrieta was interested in signing a long-term deal with the Cubs, and the front office could still explore an extension with Arrieta. But it is unlikely Jake Arrieta would sign an extension coming off a career-year and being represented by Scott Boras.
With the front office looking for an upgrade defensively at catcher, John Baker could be the lone arbitration eligible player not tendered a contract for next season. Baker did not hit much (.192/.273/.231) in 68 games and baserunners were rather successful when he was behind the plate (15%, 41 SB, 9 CS). But the Cubs staff had a 3.38 ERA when throwing to Baker.
John Baker is under club control for one more year and was paid $875,000 last season. Baker should receive between $1-1.3 million through the arbitration process if the Cubs tender him a contract for the 2015 season.
Welington Castillo is coming off another inconsistent year both offensively and defensively. Castillo showed signs of how good he can be but didn’t take the steps forward the front office was hoping for last season.
Castillo hit only .237/.296/.389 in 110 games with 19 doubles and 13 home runs. He had a strong finish to the year, batting .286/.333/.492 in September, but spent time on the disabled list again. Castillo threw out 33 percent of would be basestealers while allowing 37 wild pitches and seven passed balls.
Welington Castillo is arbitration eligible for the first time after making $530,000 last season and should receive a one-year contract in the $2-2.3 million range.
Chris Coghlan had a good year and Theo Epstein said he’s in the team’s plans for next season. Coghlan signed a minor league contract with the Cubs last winter that included a non-roster invite to big league camp. After missing the Opening Day lineup in favor of Ryan Kalish, Coghlan spent the first month of the season with Triple-A Iowa.
Coghlan earned regular playing time when Junior Lake failed to grab the left fielder’s job and both Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney dealt with injuries. Coghlan batted .283/.352/.452 with 28 doubles, five triples and nine home runs for a .804 OPS in 125 games. Coghlan ended up with his best season since he was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009.
Chris Coghlan is under club control for two more years. After being paid $503,000 last season, Coghlan should see a bump in pay to the $1.2-1.5 million range in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
The Cubs front office signed Felix Doubront in 2005 and traded for him prior to the July 31 deadline. The Cubs still owe the Red Sox a player for the 27-year old lefty. Doubront struggled with the Red Sox to the tune of a 2-4 record in 17 games, 10 starts, with a 6.07 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and 5.29 FIP.
After the trade and a rehab stint in the Cubs’ system, Doubront was 2-1 in four starts with a 3.98 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 4.66 FIP. Doubront gave up 22 hits with eight strikeouts and seven walks in 20 1/3 innings.
Felix Doubront is arbitration eligible for the first time after being paid $586,000 by the Red Sox and Cubs last year. Doubront is out of minor league options but gives the Cubs rotation depth. Felix Doubront should be in the $1.1-1.5 million range for the 2015 season.
Justin Ruggiano had trouble staying off the disabled list during his first year with the Cubs. Ruggiano played in only 81 games, but he hit when he was in the lineup (.281/.337/.429/.766) and can play all three outfield positions. Ruggiano is under club control for two more years and should see an increase in pay from the $2 million he received last season to around $2.6-2.8 million.
Pedro Strop quietly had a very good year and is arbitration eligible for the second time in his career. Strop was 2-4 in 65 games with a 2.21 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 2.66 FIP. Strop saved two games and gave up 40 hits with 71 strikeouts and 25 walks in 61 innings.
Pedro Strop avoided arbitration a year ago and was paid $1.325 million. Strop should receive between $1.9-2.5 million in 2015.
Luis Valbuena put together his best season in the majors and contending teams looking for a left-handed utility infielder could call the Cubs and see what it would take to acquire him. Valbuena just turned 29 and is under club control for two more seasons.
Valbuena hit .249/.341/.435 in 149 games with 33 doubles, four triples and 16 home runs for a .776 OPS.
After being paid $1.71 million a year ago, Luis Valbuena is looking at a salary between $2.8-3.3 million for the 2015 season.
Reports have suggested the Cubs could non-tender Travis Wood. And while he’s coming off a rough year, Wood is only 27 years old (turns 28 in February) and he’s left-handed. Wood is under team control for two more years after deciding to go year-to-year last winter instead of signing a long-term extension.
Travis Wood struggled with his command in 2014 and finished a disappointing season with an 8-13 record in 31 starts with a 5.03 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and 4.38 FIP.
The Cubs avoided arbitration with Wood last winter by signing him to a $3.9 million contract. The lefty should be looking at a contract for the 2015 season in the $5.2-5.7 million range.
Wesley Wright is the only proven lefty reliever on the Cubs roster right now and should receive a bump in pay from the $1.425 million he made last year to around the $1.8-2.2 million range for the 2015 season, his last year of arbitration eligibility.
Wesley Wright was better against righties last season than lefties and finished the year with a 0-3 record in 58 games with a 3.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 3.44 FIP (48 hits, 19 walks and 37 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings).
Players that avoid arbitration sign one-year non-guaranteed contracts.
The Cubs currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster and could create space on the reserve roster by not offering contracts to one of the automatic renewal players. And one name to keep an eye on is RHP Brian Schlitter.
Brian Schlitter had a decent season but faded in the second half while spending time on the disabled list. Schlitter posted a 2-3 record in 61 games with a 4.15 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and a 3.61 FIP. Schlitter allowed 29 runs, 26 earned, on 58 hits with 19 walks and 31 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. But in the first half, Schlitter was 2-2 in 43 games with a 2.98 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP and after the break, 0-1 in 18 games with a 7.71 ERA and a 2.57 WHIP.