With every flexible dollar in their budget no longer devoted to landing pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the Cubs expect to settle their remaining arbitration cases quickly.
All-Star pitcher Travis Wood, who agreed to a $3.9 million contract for 2014 on Friday, was the first of the four remaining arbitration-eligible players to reach terms. Wood received a salary slightly closer to his $4.25 million arbitration filing than the Cubs’ $3.5 million filing.
Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija, who filed at $6.2 million (compared to the team’s $4.4 million) is the Cubs’ highest-profile arbitration-eligible player left. Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney ($2.8 million vs. $1.8 million) and fourth outfielder Justin Ruggiano ($2.45 million vs. $1.6 million) also filed.
The Cubs had set aside roughly $20 million from a bare-bones 2014 budget of less than $100 million to make as competitive a run at Tanaka as possible. As several insiders expected, their six-year, $120 million offer fell far short of the New York Yankees’ winning bid of seven years, $155 million.
The sudden budget flexibility allows the Cubs to sign a low-priced, short-term free-agent pitcher and put what’s left toward a 2015 budget that doesn’t promise to be much more generous.
The Cubs also unveiled their list of non-roster invited players for spring training, headlined by touted young prospects Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora, as well as the club’s 2013 minor-league pitcher of the year, Kyle Hendricks.
Minor-league free agents on the list include former National League rookie of the year Chris Coghlan and left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, a former 13-game winner with the Giants’ 2010 World Series winner.
Sanchez, 31, is 5-19 with a 6.21 ERA in 1792/3 innings for four big-league teams the last three years. He has 6.4 walks per nine innings in that span.