MLB Trade Rumors released its projected arbitration salaries for next season and there are several Cubs in danger of being non-tendered this offseason. They’re going to need to clear some 40-man roster spots in order to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft, and that’s before considering additions through free agency. I could see the Cubs choosing not to tender contracts to as many as six of their 10 arb-eligible players.
Here’s the list, with those players in bold being the ones I believe will be tendered. And just in case you were unclear, that parenthetical number is service time.
- Ian Happ (5.036): $10.6M
- Franmil Reyes (4.115): $6M
- Nico Hoerner (3.014): $2.2M
- Rafael Ortega (2.145): $1.7M
- Steven Brault (4.167): $1.7M
- Rowan Wick (3.114): $1.5M
- Nick Madrigal (2.164): $1.1M
- Alec Mills (3.097): $800K
- Brad Wieck (3.085): $800K
- Codi Heuer (3.000): $800K
Happ was being shopped at the deadline and his future in Chicago may be limited by the number of outfield prospects coming up, but $10.6 million would be a bargain for his production. Should the Cubs still be in the market to trade him, that salary represents solid value even with just one year of control.
Reyes immediately established himself as a fan and clubhouse favorite following his acquisition off waivers from Cleveland, and it looked for a while as though he might be a long-term fit. But with just one homer and a 66 wRC+ over his final 101 plate appearances, not to mention his very limited positional usage, the Cubs might not be willing to bring him back.
Hoerner is the biggest no-brainer out of this whole group and is probably the Cub most likely to receive an extension offer. Since this is just his first year of eligibility, the team could try to work out something that buys out his next three years and gives him additional security beyond that while still making it a very club-friendly deal.
While Ortega was just barely below league average at the plate, his defense and baserunning left a lot to be desired. He’ll be entering his age-32 season and doesn’t have enough pop to make up for other areas. Steven Brault pitched pretty well, he just didn’t pitch often. Various injuries limited him to nine innings in as many appearances and the Cubs have proven they can find bullpen arms.
Wick’s strikeout numbers were down and his home run numbers were up as he allowed a lot of hard contact. With the number of hard-throwing pitchers the Cubs have coming up through the system, I’m not sure they’ll have room for a reliever who had a lot of trouble with consistency. Alec Mills and Brad Wieck both dealt with health issues and are good dudes who may simply be victims of circumstance.
Madrigal had his own trouble staying healthy and could be looking at a big reduction in his role if the Cubs end up landing a middle infielder. That said, his hit tool is legit when his body is right and the Cubs do want to maintain a high-contact approach even as they add more power moving forward.
Codi Heuer was the other half of the Craig Kimbrel trade and missed all of ’22 following Tommy John surgery, so some might put him in the same category as Mills and Wieck. His ceiling is higher, though, and the Cubs likely view him as a potential piece at the back end of the bullpen next year and beyond.
Wick is really the only one on whom I’m mildly conflicted, but I’m interested to get everyone else’s thoughts on him and the others. Will the Cubs tender more of these players? Fewer? Let’s discuss below.