Thursday, December 3, 2009

No arbitration for Cubs' free agents

The Cubs declined to offer arbitration to any of their four eligible players, including Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg, Reed Johnson and Chad Fox.

It's rather difficult to analyze the Harden decision. While he made 26 starts in '09 and the Cubs can use starters given that Lilly is out until at least late April, the Cubs know more than anyone about Harden's shoulder and how much work the trainers had to put in to keep Harden on the mound. It's still possible that Harden will re-sign with the Cubs, though it would likely require that Harden get offered nothing better than about one year and $7 or $8 million from any other potential suitor.

It's more possible that Reed Johnson will return. Offering Johnson arbitration would not have affected the Cubs' draft picks (because Johnson is not listed as a Type A or Type B free agent), but likely would have resulted in a raise despite the fact that he was limited to 65 games last year due to injury. I wouldn't mind seeing Johnson in a Cubs uniform again in 2010.

The hot stove has been pretty cold all around baseball thus far, but perhaps things will heat up when the winter meetings begin this Sunday. No doubt Jim Hendry will continue to shop Milton Bradley. Joel Sherman of the New York Post still thinks a Bradley for Pat Burrell swap is realistic, though one would think that would have to turn into a three-way deal since Burrell plays left field (about as poorly as Soriano!).

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