The Cubs are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:
Eligible For Free Agency (4)
- Ryan Dempster - Dempster owns a 1.74 ERA through six starts and could be traded this summer. The Cubs may make the 35-year-old a qualifying offer after the season, but I don't expect them to. Dempster's ERA is definitely not sustainable and he's bound to start declining at some point, so the Cubs may look to ensure that it doesn't happen on their roster and payroll.
- Shawn Camp - Camp has pitched well for the Cubs, and the team may have interest in retaining him on a minor league deal for 2013.
- Reed Johnson - Johnson, 35, has been a valuable extra outfielder in recent seasons, but the Cubs' offseason plans won't revolve around him.
- Jeff Baker - Baker, who is off to a slow start at the plate, won't necessarily be asked to return.
Contract Options (2)
- Paul Maholm: $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout. Maholm has stayed healthy this year and $6.5MM isn't unreasonable for a back-end starter with some upside.
- Kerry Wood: $3MM club option without a buyout. Wood has struggled through nine appearances, as his 8.64 ERA indicates. However, this has the potential to be a bargain for the Cubs if the right-hander can stay healthy and show signs that he's the same pitcher he was in 2011.
Arbitration Eligible (8)
- First time: Jeff Samardzija, Starlin Castro, James Russell
- Second time: Randy Wells, Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart
- Third time: Geovany Soto
- Fourth time: Matt Garza
The Cubs face a relatively expensive projected arbitration class that includes some of the team's best players. Soto and Garza will earn raises next winter as they go to arbitration for the final time. Samardzija and Castro seem primed for salaries of at least $2MM (unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason). Wells, Volstad and Stewart could each be traded or non-tendered if the Cubs aren't comfortable locking them in for raises and roster spots going forward.
2013 Payroll Obligation
The Cubs have approximately $35MM committed to next year's payroll, including Alfonso Soriano's $19MM salary. They have spent at least $100MM on payroll in each of the past five seasons, so president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer should have financial flexibility even after accounting for arbitration raises.