Today at 7PM CST we have the deadline for MLB clubs to tender contracts for the upcoming year to players who do not have multiyear deals. So teams will have to decide whether to go to arbitration, extend, or say goodbye to players.
Normally, this deadline isn’t too big a deal. You might get a guy here or there whose name you might recognize. However, as you can tell by your growing collection of masks, this isn’t a normal year.
There are decisions to be made on both sides of town. The White Sox have to decide on Nomar Mazara and Carlos Rodon. The Cubs have more guys, and very high profile ones – Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber to go with Albert Almora and Jose Martinez.
Let’s look at the Sox guys first:
NOMAR MAZARA: Last year, his first with the Sox, he made a hair under $5 million and was a huge disappointment. He started the seasosn with strep throat, and spent the year basically convincing Sox fans that they still need a right fielder. Arbitration being what it is, even a negative WAR season like the one Mazara endured would probably get him a raise. If the Twins launching Eddie Rosario is showing the world anything, it’s that there’s no place for sentimentality – and it’s not as if Mazara has given the Sox anything to be sentimental about.
CARLOS RODON: Rodon has spent the past two seasons adding depth to the Sox’ injured list, pitching a grand total of 11 games in two years. He’s getting past the point where you can look at him and see any potential, especially when you see that he was never able to establish himself as a top (or even middle) of the rotation guy when he was healthy. The Sox are a contender now, and they can’t have a guy like this eating up any of their budget.
The Sox also have some no-brainer tender guys like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada – no point in discussing them here.
Now onto the Cubs guys…
KRIS BRYANT: As Sahadev over at the Athletic pointed out, it would be really dumb for the Cubs to non-tender Bryant in the year they got by manipulating his service time in 2015. There were also reports on Twitter that the Cubs have already made their decision here, they’re tendering and shopping him around. If they can’t get a decent return, they keep him, hope he’s healthy, and they can either work on an extension or qualifying offer after the season. No real prediction to make here.
KYLE SCHWARBER: Ah, Kyle. While he was one of the heroes of the 2016 World Series, that’s now getting smaller in the rearview mirror. The fact is, he’s never even hung a 3 WAR in any season. While in a normal year he gives you wRC+ over 110, I’m not sure the Cubs are willing to pay $10 million for a guy who is basically a three-outcome hitter and his defensive numbers are buttressed by his rocket arm. While there’s a certain sexiness to watching him obliterate baseballs, the fact remains that a ball in the basket counts for the same number of runs as one on the street.
JAVIER BAEZ: While everyone has been keeping an eye on Bryant and Schwarber, Baez has been kind of under the radar. Last year before Spring Training was cancelled, there were reports that Baez and the Cubs were working on an extension. Baez has the misfortune of coming off a bad year, and going into free agency next season at the same time as (as of now) Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. So at this point it makes sense for him to try working something out with the Cubs. And the Cubs are better off keeping one of the guys who keeps merchandise moving. Besides, they’re not going to get anything better than Baez for the price.
PREDICTION: Tendered, possible extension
ALBERT ALMORA: I think the fact that the Cubs went out and got Billy Hamilton rather than just call Almora up from South Bend kind of sealed his fate.
JOSE MARTINEZ: Let the record show that his Cubs career was zero hits in 21 at-bats.
There are guys who are no-brainers for the Cubs, like Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, Ryan Tepera…they’re all getting tendered.
Now let’s sit back and see how wrong I am.