If you thought there were a lot of players non-tendered by MLB teams earlier this week... you’re right:
There were 40 players eligible for arbitration who were non-tendered today. Last year, that number was 27. The year before, 19.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2019
Teams are clearly being aggressive with tenders, recognizing that if there is better value on the open market, using the arb system is not necessary.
This isn’t the way the arb system is supposed to work. But front offices are taking advantage of an apparent loophole — putting together a list of what we might call “mid-range” arb-eligible players, non-tendering them, then re-signing them to lesser money than they might have gotten in arb. The Red Sox, for example, have already done this:
Sox announce re-signings of the two players they non-tendered, Marco Hernandez and Josh Osich. The decision to non-tender allowed greater flexibility in contract structure (I.e., split major/minor league deals) for players expected to offer depth.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 4, 2019
Osich, for example, was a somewhat useful reliever in 2019, 0.5 bWAR for the White Sox (Boston claimed him on waivers in October). The Red Sox didn’t want to pay him the estimated $1 million he’d have received in arb. Instead, he gets a split contract:
His base salary for his time in the majors is $850,000, which is $150,000 less than he was projected to make in arbitration.
This really seems cheap on the part of the Red Sox, but they are apparently under a demand from ownership to cut payroll.
Such is the life of many MLB teams in the 2019-20 offseason. If this sort of thing keeps up, though, it will likely become something the players will want changed in the next labor negotiation. You can guess how receptive Rob Manfred and the owners will be to that.
Having said all this, I had a look through this complete list of non-tenders to see if there were any who might be able to help the Cubs in 2020. Ages noted below are as of Opening Day 2020.
You can look through the list as well, but there are several listed in this tweet by Jeff Passan who I hope the Cubs will at least kick the proverbial tires on:
Non-tenders of note thus far:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2019
- RP Blake Treinen
- 2B César Hernández
- SP Taijuan Walker
- IF Addison Russell
- SP Kevin Gausman
- CF Kevin Pillar
- OF Domingo Santana
- 3B Maikel Franco
- OF Steven Souza Jr.
- DH C.J. Cron
- SP Aaron Sanchez
- IF José Peraza
- IF Tim Beckham
In the order listed in Passan’s tweet:
Blake Treinen, RHP, age 31
Treinen posted an 0.98 ERA and 0.834 WHIP in 2018 and struck out 100 in 81⅓ innings in 2018. He made the A.L. All-Star team and finished sixth in Cy Young voting, recording 4.2 bWAR. That’s a lot for a reliever.
Treinen’s 2019 season was, to be charitable, not as good. I’ll spare you the gory details, but he wound up with negative bWAR (-0.3).
The superball that was the baseball in 2019 might have been partly responsible for his bad year. He allowed nine homers, a career high, although his walk rate also jumped (from 2.4 per nine innings to 5.7).
There are potential red flags here, but if the Cubs have a good scouting report on him, it might be worth a flyer.
Cesar Hernandez, 2B, age 29
Hernandez was the Phillies’ starting second baseman in 2019 and has had four pretty good years in a row, averaging 2.5 bWAR. He’s just an average defender and if the Cubs did sign him, I’d think it would be as a backup. He has played some shortstop in the past.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, age 27
Walker had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and missed most of that year and almost all of 2019, making just one start in September for the Diamondbacks. He also had some shoulder issues while recovering from TJS during 2019, and had a platelet-rich plasma injection. That’s helped some pitchers in injury recovery.
Walker is a former No. 1 pick who’s had some success (2.6 bWAR season with Arizona in 2017). With the injury history he’s probably worth no more than a minor-league deal. But if healthy, Walker could definitely help the Cubs’ rotation.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, age 29
Gausman put together 10 good starts for the Braves after they acquired him at the trading deadline in 2018. In 2019... he was just bad in Atlanta, and the Reds eventually got him on a waiver claim. He pitched pretty well in relief, issuing just five walks and striking out 29 in 22⅓ innings. In fact, the only team who really hit him as a reliever in Cincinnati was the Cubs, who scored five runs off him in two appearances covering four innings.
Gausman is a former No. 1 pick (Orioles, 12th overall) in 2012. He has talent. Perhaps the Cubs could turn him into a fulltime reliever.
Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, age 25
Peraza was a 2.3 bWAR player for the Reds in 2018 and hit .286/.326/.416 with 14 home runs. In 2019, with less playing time, he didn’t hit as well: .239/.285/.346.
He’s a good defender who can play shortstop, and the Cubs could use a legitimate backup shortstop for Javier Baez.
Here’s a slick play Peraza made in May 2018 against the Mets [VIDEO].
One more who’s not on Passan’s list:
Yolmer Sanchez, 2B, age 27
Sanchez won the A.L. Gold Glove at second base in 2019, but the White Sox didn’t want to pay him. Odd, for a team that threw money at Yasmani Grandal, re-signed Jose Abreu and reportedly offered Zack Wheeler more than the Phillies eventually gave him.
Sanchez doesn’t hit much (.252/.318/.321 in 2019), although he did lead the A.L. in triples in 2018. He can play shortstop, if the Cubs wanted to have him as a backup infielder. He made $4.625 million in 2019, and the Cubs would likely want to pay him less.
If nothing else, Sanchez could provide entertainment during rain delays [VIDEO].
The Cubs should sign the following non-tendered player:
This poll is closed
None of the above
A different non-tendered player not listed here (leave in comments)