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The Barrett Deal Is Done, At Last

Here is the state of baseball, circa 2003-04:

The Cubs took a week to complete a deal that started with an intermediary team acquiring the player they wanted. Then they officially didn't offer the new acquisition a contract. The player to be named later in the deal knew he was probably going to the intermediary team, though he couldn't officially be named.

These are the machinations Jim Hendry went through to finally acquire Michael Barrett from the Expos, and send Damian Miller to Oakland as the PTBNL today. Barrett was non-tendered at the deadline yesterday, then signed as a free agent for more than what would have been the maximum 20% cut allowed under his old contract.

Following this yet? Here, don't worry about it, I have a summary:

Miller, who served the Cubs well defensively in his one season here, is now in Oakland. He's 35 and had back trouble the last half of the season. The Cubs got rid of his $3 million contract, but gave $800,000 to the A's.

Barrett, who was once a top prospect of the Expos and former #1 draft pick, is 27, and also was hurt much of last year. He'll make $1.55 million in 2004, and be the starting catcher, with Paul Bako as backup. Barrett's upside, clearly, is higher than Miller's, and defensively he should at least equal him. There is at least a small chance that Hendry has caught lightning in a bottle here, and Barrett will finally blossom. At worst, it's a wash, and the Cubs save $750,000 - the net of the lower contract for Barrett, less the $800,000 sent to Oakland.

Based on the current roster, the 2004 Cubs will have no fewer than eight players who were chosen in the first round of the amateur draft:

Moises Alou, 1986, Pirates
Mike Remlinger, 1987, Giants
Tom Goodwin, 1989, Dodgers
Derrek Lee, 1993, Padres
Michael Barrett, 1995, Expos
Kerry Wood, 1995, Cubs
Corey Patterson, 1998, Cubs
Mark Prior, 2001, Cubs

(thanks to Dan Lichtenstein for helping with this list)