Arbitration Eligibles: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are next in our 2013 Arbitration Eligibles series.  Matt Swartz's salary projections are below.

Several arbitration eligible Cubs stand a good chance of being non-tendered.  With a 6.31 ERA, Volstad had a terrible year, and paying him anything close to $3MM doesn't make sense.  Stewart was affected all year by a wrist injury, which culminated in July surgery.'s Carrie Muskat quoted Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on the situation last month: "Obviously, we'll spend a lot of time getting to the bottom of how it looks going forward before making a decision on his future with us.  It is a year that's hard to evaluate given the wrist."  So, Stewart at least has some chance of sticking around.

Valbuena picked up a lot of starts at third base in Stewart's absence, and manager Dale Sveum told Muskat he sees the 26-year-old on next year's team.  Valbuena's numbers — .219/.310/.340 in 303 plate appearances — don't make a strong case, however.  Corpas didn't have a particularly good year, and seems likely to be cut loose.

Samardzija spent the year in the Cubs' rotation and authored a breakout campaign, just in time for arbitration.  It's tough to find good comparables, since the pitcher had spent most of his previous innings in relief.  We've got him at $2.9MM, though his agency could make a case for something in excess of $3.5MM.  If the Cubs look to extend Samardzija, perhaps Johnny Cueto's four-year, $27MM deal would be a template.  Russell had a solid year out of the Cubs' pen, but won't be expensive his first time through arbitration.

Garza pitched a bit more than half a season before a triceps/elbow injury cut him short.  We're projecting a pretty mild raise up to $10MM, but this is another situation light on comparables.  If Garza comes up strong in the first half of 2013, the Cubs must decide whether to trade him, extend him, or let him walk as a free agent (potentially with a qualifying offer).    

If only Garza, Valbuena, Samardzija, and Russell are retained, we're estimating $14.7MM in salary to four arbitration eligible players.

Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available exclusively at MLB Trade Rumors.  To read more about his projection model, check out this series of posts.

16 Responses to Arbitration Eligibles: Chicago Cubs Leave a Reply

  1. Red_Line_9 3 years ago

    Samardzija should be given a contractual bonus for paying attention during the national anthem. I’d like a dime for everytime he’s joking around when the camera pans by.

    • Bob 3 years ago

      Enjoy your $16.

      • Red_Line_9 3 years ago

        Should have demanded a dollar….then I could have taken the wife out for a meal. Out of curiosity…which two games did Samardzija not pay out?

  2. I believe Volstad and Stewart will be non-tendered.

    • BKB 3 years ago

      Stewart will be non-tendered. Volstad is going to be the 5th starter for awhile.

      • I gotsta believe HoyEpstein will add some better starting pitching via free agency.

        • Goat_Rider 3 years ago

          No doubt. Upwards of three starters.

        • scott brecht 3 years ago

          I have no idea what the price for Dempster will be, but I could see him coming back on a 2-year team friendly deal. I would imagine they will be aggressive with the Rule-5 draft looking for a 5th starter or bullpen help.

      • jb226 3 years ago

        I see it exactly the opposite. Volstad didn’t do much to deserve a contract, so I see him non-tendered. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he was brought back, but if I’m making a prediction it’s for a non-tender.

        Stewart didn’t really do much either, but 1) they have already told Vitters (and Jackson) he’s starting in the minors, meaning you’re essentially handling the starter’s role to Valbuena otherwise; 2) there was an injury issue that he complained about not only all year but the previous year too that might be resolved now; and 3) they traded for him and they’re going to want to try to get SOMETHING out of the trade.

        If Vitters were knocking on the door, they had another good option or were a contending team, Stewart would probably be a non-tender. As it stands, for a couple million bucks there’s no reason not to give him a chance. If he re-finds his power stroke I bet he would be a valuable trade chip later in the season. Power-hitting third basemen are becoming hard to find.

    • dc21892 3 years ago

      I can’t see Volstad going back. They have to just nontender him. Just a quick look at his numbers and you can judge how awful he was.

  3. sourbob 3 years ago

    Valbuena was good in June and August. Maybe Sveum thinks that is more indicative of his future performance. Or maybe the Cubs had such a bad year that he’s willing to reach for something upbeat to say.

    • Ross 3 years ago

      Hey maybe the plan is to start Valbuena only in the months of June and August and we find an actual 3B who can hit the rest of the season

  4. Goat_Rider 3 years ago

    Stewart is trickier than one might think. He was complaining about his wrist back to his Colorado days. It was a tough diagnosis and led to the souring of their relationship. Even Sveum was skeptical earlier in the year saying something to the sort of “He has no problem hitting homers in BP”. The wrist being so sensitive, it is plausible the injury was the difference in being able to hit BP and game action pitching. With the short supply of 3Bs league wide and the inevitable repeat of 2012 next year, there is no higher upside personnel move for the Cubbie’s hot corner. Especially at 2.3 million.

    • jumbowang 3 years ago

      Very reasonable point of view. I tend to agree, especially considering that Colvin/LeMahieu were given up for Stewart. Even next year may be hard to judge Stewart’s true ability. Sometimes wrist injuries can linger into the recovery.

    • sourbob 3 years ago

      I agree that there is still room for him to heal the wrist and turn it around somewhat. I still don’t see them giving him the $2.3MM though. Non-tendering him then signing him to a lower base, incentive-enhanced deal sounds more like it.

  5. Floyd7070 3 years ago

    LaHair….I still
    think he can be very useful for the Cubs in a part to full time role.
    The Cubs might have a year or two stop-gap for third base right under
    their noses, in Bryan LaHair. Sure, LaHair is not experienced at the hot
    corner, by why not show him how to play there in winter ball? And, if
    not 3rd base (which I personally love the idea of him playing 3rd)…why
    not left field, if Soriano gets dealt this winter? LaHair is still only
    29. I like him playing in a solid platoon at some position against
    righties. LaHair has too much doubles and homer power to make him a
    bench guy, or to trade him. If nothing else, sign Scott Rolen to bat against lefties and to mentor LaHair for third base. That would be a good story, and could work out pretty good.

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