The Cubs tendered contracts to eight of the ten players on the roster arbitration eligible for the 2015 season and the 22 players on the 40-man roster with 0-3 years (automatic renewal) of service time. Travis Wood was among the eight players tendered contracts for the 2015 season.
The Cubs did not tender contracts to C John Baker and LHP Wesley Wright and both players are now free agents.
With the two roster moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster officially stands at 37 players.
Jake Arrieta, Welington Castillo, Chris Coghlan, Felix Doubront, Justin Ruggiano, Pedro Strop, Luis Valbuena and Travis Wood were offered contracts for the 2015 season. The deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures is Jan. 16. Teams can avoid the arbitration process at any point until the hearing begins. Arbitration hearings are scheduled in February (Feb. 1-21).
It was expected John Baker would be non-tendered as the front office continues to look for ways to upgrade the catcher position. Wesley Wright not being offered a contract for next year comes as a bit of a surprise, especially with Wright having a history with Joe Maddon.
Wesley Wright was under team control for one more season and was the only proven lefty in the Cubs pen. The Cubs paid Wright $1.425 million last season and he was in line for a pay increase to around the $1.8-2.2 million range for the 2015 season. Wright was 0-3 in 58 games last year with a 3.17 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 3.44 FIP (48 hits, 19 walks and 37 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings).
With Wesley Wright no longer in the picture, the Cubs have Joseph Ortiz and Zac Rosscup on the roster as left-handed options for the bullpen. The Cubs could use Felix Doubront and Tsuyoshi Wada in relief roles as well. And Eric Jokisch is another southpaw on the 40-man roster that could also be an option.
Joseph Ortiz was 2-2 in 32 relief appearances for the Rangers in 2013 with a 4.23 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 3.97 FIP. Ortiz struck out 27 and walked 10 in 44 2/3 innings.
Zac Rosscup has the stuff to be successful in the big leagues but he’s struggled with throwing strikes in his 28 appearances over two seasons in the majors. In 20 innings, Rosscup has allowed 17 hits with 19 walks and 28 strikeouts.
Arbitration Eligible Player Profiles
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 Arrieta would sign an extension coming off a career-year and being represented by Scott Boras.
Welington Castillo is coming off another inconsistent year both offensively and defensively. Castillo showed signs of how could 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 Cubs’ 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 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.
Doubront is arbitration eligible for the first time after being paid $586,000 by the 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.
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. 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.
The Cubs avoided arbitration with Wood a year ago 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.
Players that avoid arbitration sign one-year non-guaranteed contracts.
Automatic Renewal (0-3 Men)
RHP Dallas Beeler, RHP C.J. Edwards, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Kyle Hendricks, LHP Eric Jokisch, LHP Joseph Ortiz, RHP Blake Parker, RHP Neil Ramirez, RHP Donn Roach, RHP Hector Rondon, LHP Zac Rosscup, RHP Brian Schlitter, RHP Dan Straily, C Rafael Lopez, INF Arismendy Alcantara, INF Javier Baez, INF Tommy La Stella, INF/OF Mike Olt, INF Christian Villanueva, INF/OF Logan Watkins, OF Junior Lake and OF Matt Szczur