2013 Contract Issues: Chicago Cubs

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)

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.


23 Responses to 2013 Contract Issues: Chicago Cubs Leave a Reply

  1. Guest 3 years ago

    So Theo and Jed will have about $50 million to play with? Scary stuff! I can bet you that at least $8 to $12 million of that goes to bullpen help.

    • chico65 3 years ago

      Yes, it certainly is scary stuff- unless you’re a card-carrying member of either the Carl Crawford or John Lackey fan clubs, I suppose.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

        Those are lightweight memberships when it comes to Chicago Chico. They have several premier clubs there. Soriano on fire.. Fukodome Forever.. Anger management with “Z” … Jimmy Hendry started all sorts of mis-managed clubs around the North side during his reign.

        • IdontknowwhyIpostonforums 3 years ago

          Don’t forget Milton Bradley.

          • imachainsaw 3 years ago

             we’re consciously trying to. thanks.

      • Ptk123 3 years ago

        Carl Crawford has 1 bad season, and he becomes one of the biggest busts ever huh?

        • chico65 3 years ago

          Nah, just low-hanging fruit.

          Now, Lackey, on the other hand…

    • bigpat 3 years ago

       Yeah, Theo signing free agents is certainly scary stuff!!!

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

         Said this before here (numerous times) and say again.. Wouldn’t count out Lackey.. He’s not one of those guys who lacks drive.. He was injured all last year, yet still pitched nearly 200IP needing TJ surgery the entire season.. How many players raking in over 15m would have done that?

        he plays with emotion, yet stays under control far better than some.. Zambrano for example.. I wouldn’t count out Lackey at all.. He’s been a proven winner throughout his career.

        • chico65 3 years ago

          I’d buy that argument a lot better if he had actually performed since coming to Boston, or at anything approaching his 05-07 levels since, well, 07.

          Love the optimism from an old pirate, but I can’t find anything I like about Lackey on the mound or off it.  He’s the most aptly named Sox starter I can think of.

  2. what chico said. Based on Volstad, Sonnenstine, T. Wood, Stewart, Dejesus I’m still waiting for the crack talent-evaluating machine I’ve heard so much about, to show up. Just because they’ll have money to spend doesn’t mean they’ll spend it wisely.
    On another note:  Volstad as closer, anyone?

    • TwinkleTwinkleStarlinCastro 3 years ago

      My god…It’s never occured to me.  That’s crazy enough that it just might work! Heck on this team, why not try it.  It’s not like they have anything to lose except more games.  As long as he’s no where near the 6th inning. 

    • Rynocerous 3 years ago

      If you thought any of the moves this season would have had any immediate impact other than salary relief, your expectations were too high.

      • TwinkleTwinkleStarlinCastro 3 years ago

        I agree on the expectations front.  On the otherhand the closer position is in flux.  Marmol was too eratic to be a long term solution and he costs way too much money.  A team that’s going to lose 90-100 games anways might as well try out volstad at closer.  The reverse transition of Dempster could be a parallel. 

      • what salary relief? Colvin for Stewart was a wash, they’re paying almost all of Byrd, they’re saving 3 mil off of Z. 3 mil from what started out as a 110 million payroll. It seems Theo and jed simply came in with the assured belief that anything Hendry or anyone else before them had touched was mucilage, and had to go – so Sandberg wasn’t even considered, colvin gets sent packing and rakes in colorado (or he was earlier this year, I haven’t checked recently), zambrano gets shipped out and stars in miami, and what they got back or in place of these guys are as bad as anything Hendry would have gotten. Better hope Rizzo doesn’t fall on his face like he did last time he faced MLB pitching.  

    • imachainsaw 3 years ago

      you want a guy who gives up a ton of hits, good amount of HR’s, doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, and is prone to walking people as the closer? like literally the opposite in every aspect of what you want in a closer?

    • Terencemann 3 years ago

      DeJesus was one of the better signings of the last off-season. Traditional stats would make you think that his performance was tanking but advanced metrics show that he was basically the same player with bad luck in Oakland and the money has paid off.

      Sonnenstine was a minor league signing, who cares?
      Wood wasn’t even the center-piece of the Marshall deal. Torreyes and Sappelt had been tearing up the minors in the Reds system and could be cheap contributors on future Cubs teams.

      The entire point of signing all the AAAA pitchers was to avoid more Rodrigo Lopez embarrassment and to throw some guys who have shown they have some upside out there instead of recycling older and more expensive players. Maholm is working out pretty well so far.

      And Ian Stewart was a basic “change of scenery” trade for both players. The Cubs got a cheap third baseman to platoon and the Rockies got a 4th outfielder in Colvin who’s rapidly regressing back to his normal stats. His .385 BABIP won’t hold up.

      So, all in all, the money last off-season was spent wisely and allowed the team to get out from under the Carlos Zambrano cloud (also, Zambrano has credited his trade with helping his mental approach this season after he sort of bottomed-out in Venezuela during the off-season).

      I don’t love some of the free-agent signings Theo made in Boston, but I have 0 problems with any moves the front office has made in Chicago. They’re all pretty logical (even the Koyie Hill thing kind of makes sense because they have nobody left to serve as a backup) and I can’t expect a lot from a team with 0 superstars to trade going into this season and not a lot of minor league depth at the upper levels.

  3. Geo Soto (what has he done since ROTY – trade to colorado so he can hit some home runs like Colvin) / Alfonso (eat half his contract – trade) / Marmol (skill – trade when he gets on a streak) / Dempster (age/good trade bait mid season) Next year C: Clevenger 1b: Rizzo 2nd: Barney SS:Castro 3rd: David Wright LF: LAHair CF: Josh Hamilton RF: Andre Ethier

    WORLD SERIES .. Come On Theo

    Just Kidding All

  4. groomsy 3 years ago

    david i agree with your lineup but barney he has shown he isnt consistent

  5. I take your point, but listen. Volstad is crappy over the course of 5 or 6 innings. He clearly has no clue how to manage a game, he doesn’t have baseball smarts – jamie moyer, he’s not. But he’s 6’3″, 220 lbs – if someone told him, forget about pacing yourself, forget about lefty-righty matchup head case stuff, just rear back and bring it for 3 outs, I think he could manage that. His pattern seems to be the one bad inning that blows the game, but that’s part of trying to navigate (unsuccessfully) through 6 or 7 innings. But to be a decent closer, he needs 2 pitches (a fast ball and something not a fastball) and an intimidating mound presence.   

  6. you’re dreaming – there are plenty of GM’s who would love to grab a former ROTY catcher who has shown he can bat in the high 200’s and hit 10-15 HR’s if his head is screwed on straight. Like Theo Epstein,  for one.

  7. Terencemann 3 years ago

    That is not how people in baseball see Geo at all anymore. His trade value is at an all-time low. The Cubs aren’t getting much more from a sensible team than they got for Byrd if they trade Geo right now.

  8. Ptk123 3 years ago

    Pretty sure Volstad is 6’8 not 6’3!

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