Arbitration Madness


Arbitration has been the word of the day in MLB circles over the last 48 hours, if not longer. Teams all across the Majors have until 11 pm CST tonight to make the call on arbitration for their Type A and Type B free agents. The Cubs are one of the few teams not having to set aside time to address this since none of their free agents apply to the aforementioned categories. However, with a tighter budget this offseason and a desire to further invest in the development of the farm system, keeping an eye on the arbitration decisions of the other MLB teams will be important as their potential free agent targets may or may not have draft pick compensation following in the players’ shadow.

After the jump is the rundown of rumored Cub targets, including players the Cubs should be going after.

1B Carlos Pena (Type B)

The rumored Hendry target would be the power lefty bat the Cubs are pressing for that would also bring a good glove at 1B for Starlin Castro to fire away at from SS. The sub .200 batting average Pena had last season in exchange for $10.125 million is reason enough for Cub fans to balk at the rumor, but it may also be enough to keep the market value of this Scott Boras client down enough to be in the Cubs budget. His attractiveness to the Cubs will also depend on the arbitration decision yet to be made by the Rays, as well as the success or failure Hendry’s rumored pursuit of Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres.

1B Adam LaRoche (Type B)

The Diamondback is another short term option rumored for the Cubs. He has yet to be offered arbitration. He provides balanced numbers, has pop in his lefty bat, and is not a liability with the glove at 1B. However there has been some whispers of concern over his attitude. After having earned $6 million last season, his market value may determine if he is in the Cubs prices range, as well as the results of the Cubs pursuit of Adrian Gonzalez.

1B Aubrey Huff (Type B)

Huff has resigned with the Giants.

1B Adam Dunn (Type A)

The rumored Cub interest in Dunn has thankfully died down, but in respect of due diligence, he will be included in this post. The Nationals have offered him arbitration.

1B Derrek Lee (Type A)

The recently traded former Cub has had no public interest yet from the Cubs. But the player and team have maintained a respectful relationship, and depending on how far D Lee’s stock may have fallen in this off season market, there may be a chance the return of fan favorite is the short term option at 1B the Cubs are looking for. He has not been offered arbitration by the Braves. On D Lee’s side of the table, he will have to decide if he is willing to put up with another year or two of Carlos Zambrano, as well as possibly accepting a “demotion” in the batting order from the three hole he called home over the last few years.

2B Orlando Hudson (Type B)

A popular name mentioned in rumors with the Cubs over the last couple seasons, will Hendry finally be able to catch Hudson? The Cubs roster depth in the middle IF the last couple seasons made it tough for Hendry to go after Hudson strictly for his top of the batting order talents. With Blake DeWitt the incumbent 2B and several prospects taking a number and waiting in line down in the minors, this depth may again be reason enough for the Cubs to pass yet again. And that is before you factor in Hudson’s potentially hefty price tag (he earned $5 million last season) and possible draft pick compensation.

2B Felipe Lopez (Type B)

Like Hudson, Lopez was a popular name in Cub rumors over the last couple years. For the same depth reasons, his name has been quiet in connection with the Cubs, but his affordability (he earned $1 million in 2010) would make him a great pick up to have DeWitt compete with for the starting 2B job. He would also provide a veteran back up at 3B for the recently oft injured Aramis Ramirez. The only set back would be that the Red Sox have offered him arbitration.

RHP Javier Vazquez (Type B)

Our lead writer Jordan has already provided some insight on Vazquez over the last couple days. The Yankees have offered arbitration and the starting pitcher has declined, so there will be draft pick compensation involved. His potential market value alone (he made $11.5 million last season) would seemingly price him out of the Cubs’ range, but for now the rumors persist.

RHP Carl Pavano (Type A)

Considering Vazquez is a name being floated about in connection with the Cubs, it is interesting that Pavano has not had his name throw around. As a Type A his potential compensation pick would be higher, but his injury history may factor into him being in the same price range as Vazquez despite leading the Twins into the playoffs with a 17 win season.

RHP Jon Garland (Type B)

Another name that Jordan has already discussed. He has yet to be offered arbitration, so draft compensation is a possibility, but he is rumored to be within the Cubs price range.

LHP Jorge de la Rosa (Type A)

de la Rosa is another name whispered in Cubs rumors, but his career numbers do not stand out in very positive fashion other than the 16 win season he had in 2009. He would be a nice left handed starting replacement to the departed Ted Lilly and figures to be affordable if Hendry can use Lilly’s recently signed deal ( ) with the Dodgers as leverage against de la Rosa. The down side is that the Rockies offered him arbitration.

RHP Kevin Millwood (Type B)

Millwood had a terrible W-L record last season with the Orioles and has not been offered arbitration. The long time veteran has averaged 197 innings pitched over the last six seasons, but his numbers from last season make you wonder if he has finally reached the end of his career. As Scott Boras client, it will be interesting to see what value Boras will push for on the open market this off season.

LHP Randy Choate (Type B)

The reliever’s total numbers last season for the Rays look average at best, but pitching splits show that he was pretty tough on left handed batters. His salary of only $700,000 last season would make it safe to assume that his next deal would be manageable to take on for the budget conscious Cubs, and his numbers are surely to improve from a move to the NL. As of the time of this write up, the Rays have yet to make an arbitration decision on Choate. Possible draft pick compensation may deter Jim Hendry as his boss Tom Ricketts is in favor of stocking the farm system as much as possible. Another factor will be where things stand with LHP John Grabow, who is coming off an unproductive and injury plagued 2010 season. The Cubs will be on the hook for $4.8 million in 2011 on yet another back loaded contract that was offered by Hendry.

RHP Dan Wheeler (Type A)

Cub fans may remember his name from his days with the Astros, as recently as 2007. Wheeler had great numbers for the Rays last season (hence the Type A classification) and had even better numbers with the Astros from 2005 to 2006. This overall consistent success would be sure to follow him if he chose to come back to the NL Central as a Cub, but potential draft pick compensation and the $3.5 million he made last season as a barometer may make Wheeler more of a reach than reality for the Cubs this season. But depending on what Hendry is willing to offer to Kerry Wood, Wheeler may be a good Plan B option at a similar price without the desire for a shot at the closer job that Wood may want.

RHP Chad Qualls (Type B)

Qualls had bad numbers last year, but this will most likely encourage the Rays not to offer arbitration, as well as keep his market value down. Coming off of a one year $4.19, he should be open to another one year deal at a significantly lower rate. He had success in the NL through 2009 and a return as a Cub may help him boost his numbers again, allowing him to look to cash in for 2012 and beyond. A potential budget friendly win-win scenario for both parties.

RHP Jesse Crain (Type B)

The lifelong Twin has stacked up good numbers overall in his career and may be looking for a salary bump from the $2 million he earned last season. The market value for productive relievers and possible draft pick compensation will determine his fit (or not) with the Cubs.

LHP Scott Downs (Type A)

The former Cubs draft pick took longer to develop than the Cubs were willing to wait around for (7 years), and now he is in the top tier of lefty relievers in the game over the last couple seasons. What is more impressive about his numbers is that he has put them up against the stacked AL East division. The Blue Jays will most likely offer arbitration and he is also likely to be due a raise from his $4 million salary last season. Hendry has been interested in Downs in the past (before ending up with John Grabow from the Pirates in 2009) and being stuck with Grabow may be what blocks a North Side return for Downs in addition to the high salary potential.

RHP Jason Frasor (Type A)

The local kid (Oak Forest, IL) and SIU grad would make a nice home coming story if the Cubs signed him. But like Downs, the Jays are likely to offer arbitration and he would also be seeking a raise from the $2.65 million he made last season.

RHP Frank Francisco (Type A)

The Rangers have yet to offer him arbitration, so the chance for draft compensation is still there. His potential salary demands (he made $3.63 million last year) and possible desire to close again may be more road blocks than the draft pick. But his trip to the World Series would make him a good veteran presence for the young Cubs bullpen.

RHP J.J. Putz (Type B)

The former closer had a great bounce back season in set up for the White Sox. He figures to seek a pay raise from his salary last season ($3 million), may be looking to close again, and has been offered arbitration.

RHP Chad Durbin (Type B)

Durbin is another playoff veteran that would be a plus to the young Cubs pen. He earned $2.13 million last year and based on his numbers, an educated guess would be that he wouldn’t break the Cubs bank to sign. The added bonus is that the Phillies have not offered him arbitration and as a result, there is no draft pick involved.

LHP Arthur Rhodes (Type A)

Rhodes continued to put up great numbers with the Reds last season as he provided a veteran presence for the NL Central winning bullpen. At this point in his career, age will always be a concern. But it may serve as enough leverage to corner him into a one year deal with an increase to the $2 million he made last season. That would be a budget friendly deal for Hendry and Co. Rhodes has not been offered arbitration yet.

LHP Pedro Feliciano (Type B)

Another lefty option on the market, but he has been offered arbitration by the Mets and has racked up 86+ appearances in each of the last three seasons.

RHP Koji Uehara (Type B)

The Japanese import was brought over by the Orioles after his success as a starter in the Japanese pro league. Injuries ended his 2009 season short with average numbers. For the 2010 season he was moved to the pen as a set up man and he flourished, including a tally of 13 saves. He earned $5 million last season and was not offered arbitration by the Orioles. It will be interesting to see if his market value will fall below $5 million, as well as whether he decides to stick to being a reliever or tries his hand again as a starter. Assuming he can stay healthy as a starter, he could potentially be an option for the Cubs in either the rotation or the pen.

RHP Kerry Wood (Type B)

The early word is there is mutual interest in having Wood back in Cubbie blue pinstripes instead of Yankee blue. But after Hendry encouraged Wood to test the free agent waters back in 2008 despite Wood’s desire to return to the Cubs at a discount, it would be hard to see that wise word of advice change from Hendry to Wood if the hard throwing set up man’s market value is more than what the Cubs can afford. The Yankees have been reported as not having offered arbitration.