As the MLB playoffs follow their usual exhilarating, unpredictable path fans of those teams not in the tournament slowly begin to turn their eyes toward the pending free agency period.
Who will their team sign or trade for? Who will be brought back or allowed to sign elsewhere?
As for the Chicago Cubs, their fans will be more inclined to ask the question posed in the former as opposed to the latter. This offseason the Chicago Cubs have a nominal number of traditional free agents at a current total of four—Shawn Camp, Randy Wells, Blake DeWitt, and Alex Hinshaw.
They have a few pre-arbitration players—players who have less than three years of experience but are eligible for the league minimum salary. But their roster is chock-full of arbitration eligible players that could become free agents if the club decides to label them non-tendered candidates.
If the Cubs decide to let some of these players go so they can have more room to pursue other free agents, those not brought back will find themselves wading through deep water.
Free agents that spent the previous year on one of the worst teams in the league are usually not in line for big paydays
For those who were the worst of baseball’s second worse, will need a snorkel.
Blake DeWitt’s Major League career has been less than spectacular. In five seasons his average never eclipsed the .270 mark, but he has maintained a decent OPS. His career line is nothing impressive, but is solid.
That is what could bring DeWitt a modest contract offer this FA period. However, a forgettable 2012 could hinder his prospects at finding anything longer than a 2-year deal.
Twice in 2012 DeWitt was DFA by the Cubs – once in February and again in May. His line prior to his May designation was a paltry .138/.133/.172, and at Triple-A Iowa he was not much better at .127/.246./.157.
Finally, on October 4 Blake DeWitt was granted free agency by the organization.
It should not be surprising the Cubs purchased the contract of Justin Germano—another Red Sox castoff—after Boston designated him for assignment, but what would be surprising is if the Cubs tendered him a contract.
If the Cubs do indeed target starting pitching this offseason it seems logical they will cut ties with Germano and reserve those funds to bring in a better option.
There may be a team or two that will become infatuated with the pitcher after hearing the front office elder regale them with the tale of Germano throwing a perfect game while in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system.
Otherwise, Germano will have to settle for a minor league contract.
Having made a whopping $2.655 million for the 2012 season—marking an unsuitable ratio of $885k per win—it would be very surprising if the Cubs tendered him an offer. MLBTradeRumors.com writer, Matt Swartz, projects that despite his horrendous 2012 season Volstad would still see a salary bump for 2013 to $3.1 million
By removing his $2.655 million and Randy Wells’ $2.705 million from the books in 2013— by being a veteran not on the season ending 40-man roster, Wells elected to become a free agent—the Cubs will have $5.36 million to spend elsewhere this offseason.
Both of the pitchers could be back with the organization next season, but the finances of their multiple-year contract-totals, +\- $500k, will equal their 2012 salaries.
Salary is not the only reason the Cubs should not tender Volstad a contract.
After July 17, 2011 Chris Volstad did not earn another personal win until August 26, 2012. During that time he accrued a personal W-L record of 0-14 in 24 starts.
In the past two seasons he has had a sub-5.00 ERA after only four starts: His first start to begin the 2011 season and his last two starts of 2011, and after his second start of 2012.
To keep him on the roster for 2013 would be costly in both wins and losses, and diversion of money better spent on improving the rotation.
Some team will take a chance on the 26-year old righty, but for below his salary of 2012.
Manuel Corpas is a veteran reliever the Cubs signed after he missed the entire 2011 season and spending the previous four seasons with the Colorado Rockies.
Given 2012 was Corpas’ first season back from TJ surgery, he did a fair job coming out of the bullpen. He could find himself back with the Cubs in 2013 but not for the amount to be considered “getting paid” in professional athletics.
There will be teams that decide to offer a deal similar to the one the Cubs did when they signed him last offseason. However, it may not be until after his next contract that he sees an increase in length and amount.
Jason Berken is another non-tender candidate that, depending on how desperate the Cubs will be for arms next season, could see an undeserved bump up in pay for 2013 if the club tenders him a contract.
In 2012, Berken seemed to be just another arm for the Cubs to rotate into and out of their starting rotation to make it through the season.
The most notable accomplishment in Berken’s short career was on September 20 when he became the fifth Cubs pitcher to strike out four batters in one inning.
He did pitch fairly well in that start, but if the Cubs do offer him a contract it will most likely be of the minor league variety.