The Cubs retained the rights of nine arbitration eligible players, led by pitcher Jeff Samardzija and second baseman Darwin Barney. How long they remain with the Cubs could be dictated by the trade market and the progress of their top prospects. Samardzija, one of the Cubs’ top trade chips, was tendered a contract before Monday’s 11 p.m. deadline and could come close to doubling his $2.64 million salary. The Cubs are expected to be patient in entertaining offers for him as the pitching market becomes sculpted. Two sources outside the organization believe the Cubs lurk in the market for a marquee free agent, but they could fortify their minor league pitching depth by trading Samardzija, who could become a free agent after 2015. The Cubs have interest in pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who will become a free agent shortly after a posting agreement between Major League Baseball and the Japanese leagues is reached. Barney, 28, could receive a raise from $562,000 to around $2 million as an arbitration-eligible player despite batting a career-low .222 in 2013. Despite committing only four errors in 141 games, Barney’s long-term future with the Cubs could be in question. In late September, President Theo Epstein said Baez could move from shortstop to second and third base at Triple-A Iowa “as soon as he’s pounding on that door” to reach the majors. Arismendy Alcantara, 21, batted .271 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs at Double-A Tennessee, but he hasn’t played at the Triple-A level. Alcantara is playing second base and is batting .200 in 17 games for Licey in the Dominican Winter League. Second baseman Logan Watkins was promoted from Triple-A Iowa in August but had only 38 at-bats. Meanwhile, pitchers Travis Wood, James Russell and Pedro Strop, infielder Luis Valbuena and outfielder Nate Schierholtz were tendered contracts. The Cubs re-signed infielder Donnie Murphy ($825,000) and backup catcher George Kottaras ($1.075 million). Both deals include incentives. Kottaras’ agreement occurred hours after free agent Dioner Navarro signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cubs tender contracts to Samardzija, Barney
Chicago Tribune | Dec 3