There’s only one
Butler has just over one year worth of major league service time, so his salary is as affordable as they come. Grimm didn’t have a large salary either. He was the first player that this front office took all the way to arbitration. He was asking for 2.475 million, but he lost and instead, he would have received 2.2 million if he stayed with the Cubs for this season. Arbitration contracts aren’t guaranteed until opening day. By releasing Grimm during spring training they only needed to pay him termination pay.
This was Grimm’s last year of arbitration. So after this season, the Cubs might have lost him to free agency anyway. With Butler, the Cubs have at least one more season before he’s eligible for arbitration and then three seasons of arbitration after that.
Both Butler and Grimm are out of minor league options. So it possible that the Cubs would have lost whichever one they didn’t put on the 25 man roster out of spring training.
The injuries to both Butler and Grimm make this decision a little bit difficult to judge. But from what little performance we’ve seen of Grimm this season the Cubs don’t regret losing him.
If Butler’s last two or three outings were negatively impacted by his injury and his usual performance will be more like his first three outings, then Butler would clearly be the better pitcher. He is young enough that he should continue to improve. Butler also has many more years of team control, a lower salary and he is an option for the starting rotation.
During spring training this might have seemed like a tough decision. But right now it seems obvious that the Cubs made the right choice.