Things are mostly quiet for now but there are a slew of new free agents ready to be added to the mix. The non-tender list is made up of players who do not get tendered contracts, largely because their performance hasn't warranted the projected increase in their salary for the next season.
The list is made up of lesser known players, most of whom are backups or role players and it lacks the marquee name/star quality of the free agent list. But that doesn't mean you can't find a gem in the pile In fact, the Cubs picked up their starting RF'e'r, Nate Schierholtz via the non-tendered list. He was arguably their best position player in the first half last season before tailing off toward the end of the season.
Sometimes, there is good reason why guys become non-tender candidates, as they found out with Ian Stewart and Chris Volstad. Both players were technically acquired via trade, but both would have been non-tendered had the teams not been willing to exchange unwanted parts.
Those examples pretty much sum up the non-tendered free agents. Sometimes they work, more often they don't or become minor role players. Once in awhile the players make it to free agency while other times two teams will work out a deal beforehand.
The Cubs have already acquired a non-tender candidate in a minor deal in catcher George Kottaras.
Cubs players who must be tendered a contract or be set free are...
- Daniel Bard
- Darwin Barney
- Mat Gamel
- George Kottaras
- Donnie Murphy
- James Russell
- Jeff Samardzija
- Nate Schierholtz
- Pedro Strop
- Luis Valbuena
- Travis Wood
Of these players, the Cubs will tender George Kottaras, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Pedro Strop, Luis Valbuena, and Travis Wood.
On the bubble are Daniel Bard, Darwin Barney, Mat Gamel and Donnie Murphy. Of those players, Bard and Gamel are probably the most likely to be non-tendered, especially Bard after he has struggled again this winter. But the Cubs could non-tender one or both and attempt to bring them back on a minor league deal and open up a roster spot.
UPDATE: Carrie Muskat says the Cubs expect to tender Daniel Bard. Theo Epstein said they are committed to the talented RHP for the long haul. If he sorts out his control issues, the Cubs may have a big, talented arm for the bullpen.
You can also think of this as sort of a deadline day where it's possible a minor deal may go down. I think this is the case with Darwin Barney. I'm pretty certain the Cubs will hang on to him but they may trade him for another non-tender candidate, as they did when they traded Tyler Colvin as part of the Ian Stewart deal.
Here are some of the non-tender candidates I think the Cubs should be watching...
Not a whole lot here, but there are two former top prospects entering their age 27 season.
- Daniel Hudson: Injury plagued, the one-time top White Sox prospect can throw pretty hard when healthy (92-94) and has the secondaries and approach to remain a starter. But health is a big question.
- Tommy Hanson: A former Braves top prospect, injuries have derailed his once promising career and taken just enough steam off the fastball where he now looks more like a 5th starter type.
Some former closers, a veteran strike-thrower, and a familiar lefty...
- Andrew Bailey: Boston has said they would tender a contract but he is coming off of an injury and joining a crowded bullpen. He may still be acquired via a minor deal.
- John Axford: Not as much of a lock to get tendered as Bailey. Axford was below replacement level last year but an xFIP of 3.56 gives encouragement that he can at least be a solid reliever next year. He still throws in the mid 90s and he has experience in high leverage roles, so the Cubs could look to add him as a low cost veteran to the pen.
- Scott Atchison: The former Red Sox pitcher is 37 and would strictly be a Shawn Camp type veteran stopgap in middle relief. Put up a 1.58 ERA in relief two years ago but that rose to 4.37 last year (3.75 FIP). His ability to throw strikes and veteran presence in a young bullpen would be his most appealing qualities.
- Kevin Jepsen: The Angels reliever can bring it (avg. of 96 mph) and is still just 29 years old. He'll miss bats and while he isn't terribly wild (3.6 BB/9 IP, 8.5% walk rate) , he may walk too many hitters to be a closer, but he has a good arm and can be part of that late inning mix.
- Joe Thatcher: Would add a much needed 2nd lefty with experience and a track record of success (3.20 ERA last season, 3.34 lifetime) with the peripherals to match. Jed Hoyer is quite familiar with the veteran lefty as he has pitched for the Padres since 2007.
A couple of talented but underperforming outfielders caught my attention as possible non-tender/minor trade candidaes...
- Travis Snider: The Pirates have said they intend to hang on to Snider but they have no room for the LH hitter. They may just be trying to work out a deal. Snider has a decent approach and good power potential.
- Drew Stubbs: Athletic, fast, and a solid, versatile outfield defender with some pop and patience, he could complement a heavily LH outfield and give Junior Lake more development time in AAA.
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