Of the 10 arbitration-eligible players on the Cubs, two were not tendered a contract at yesterday’s deadline: catcher John Baker and LHP Wesley Wright.
Baker not being tendered a contract isn’t a shocker, but I was a tad surprised about Wright. The reliever had a pretty solid 2014 for the Cubs: 3.17 ERA (3.44 FIP) in 58 appearances.
Yesterday we talked about the Cubs possibly parting with one of their left-handed starters this offseason, specifically Travis Wood.
Looks like they would rather part with Wright, who appears to be the odd man out. The Cubs do have a lot of left-handed options they could use out of the pen, including Zac Rosscup, Tsuyoshi Wada, Felix Doubront, Eric Jokisch, Joe Ortiz or even Wood.
The Cubs’ 40-man roster now sits at 37, so they have some flexibility to add a few players. With the departure of Baker, will the Cubs go with Rafael Lopez as the backup, or will they target somebody outside the organization?
I could see the Cubs using a catching tandem of Welington Castillo and Lopez. Side note about the Cubs’ catching situation: Despite the hot pursuit of free-agent catcher Russell Martin, I don’t think they are dying to get rid of Castillo. I think it was more about adding the leadership skills of Martin. But we shall see.
The remaining arbitration-eligible players were tendered contracts: Wood, Jake Arrieta, Welington Castillo, Chris Coghlan, Felix Doubront, Justin Ruggiano, Pedro Strop and Luis Valbuena.
Wait, I thought this thing was settled
Just when you thought it was safe to believe the Wrigley Field renovation plans were finalized…
Danny Ecker from Crain’s writes that the Cubs will be meeting with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday to decrease the number of signs being installed at Wrigley.
Instead of seven signs, there will now only be six. The Cubs hope to receive a $75 million tax credit with the change.
The sign getting the axe was supposed to be located in left-center field. Additionally, the video board to be installed in right field (i.e., not the Jumbotron) will be decreased in size, Ecker reports.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement at a Cubs blogger event that the Wrigley Field bleachers will not be completed by Opening Night 2015.
I guess it was foolish to think everything would go according to plan with this project.
Other non-tenders around the league
A few interesting names around the league were not tendered contracts. Perhaps the Cubs would like to use one of their open roster spots?
* The Braves non-tendered pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. Both underwent Tommy John surgery last season. I’d definitely be interested in Medlen, assuming he could return to his former self.
* The Rangers non-tendered RHP Alexi Ogando. He looked promising a few years ago, but has battled injuries.
* The Rangers also non-tendered infielder Adam Rosales. Anecdote alert: Rosales is a guy I always root for, as I played Little League with him many years ago. As a dominant pitcher, he was a big part of us winning the championship — the only one I won in all my years of youth sports.
* Shortstop Everth Cabrera was non-tendered by the Padres. He had a nice year in 2013, but had some off-the-field issues last year, and struggled at the plate as well.
* The Twins asked former Cubs manager Rick Renteria to be their bench coach under Paul Molitor, but he quickly rejected the offer, according to 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson. They also reached out to another former Cubs manager, Dale Sveum, but he likewise declined. Molitor would have liked for Chris Bosio to be the Twins pitching coach but knew he wouldn’t leave the Cubs. Instead he interviewed bullpen coach Lester Strode, but the talks never materialized, Wolfson said.
* Former Cubs reliever James Russell, who was tendered a contract yesterday by the Braves, might be considered for a starting job, according to Mark Bowman. I seem to remember Russell often talking about wanting to start while he was with the Cubs, but it never really worked out.
* Scott Miller from Bleacher Report writes that A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was traded to the Blue Jays last week, got into a heated argument with GM Billy Beane this past summer. Beane was reportedly upset that Donaldson wanted to take a couple days off to rest, and ordered manager Bob Melvin to re-insert Donaldson into the lineup. If this actually happened, I guess it would help explain why the A’s just traded their best offensive player.
* Outfielder Colby Rasmus could be available, according to Jerry Crasnick. Could be an interesting player for the Cubs to pursue.
* The Dodgers avoided arbitration with infielder Darwin Barney, signing him to a one-year deal. Never was a huge Barney fan, but I’m glad he is still able to find a roster spot out there. And for a playoff contender, most likely.
* A classic Peter Gammons “HUH??” tweet:
Laugh @"mystery teams," surprise
but 3 GMs think there is a serious new entrant on Lester. Must
work with Pediatric Cancer Foundation
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 2, 2014
I suppose we can glean from this that a team we haven’t heard about could snatch up free-agent pitcher Jon Lester. Or maybe he’s just joking? I can’t tell. Gammons Twitter is the best.