The end of the World Series marked the start of the baseball offseason. We'll hear tons of rumors over the next few month, some of them may even have to do with the Cubs. Most of them won't and most of them will be nonsense, but it's still fun. In the past this time of the year was quite busy. The Cubs would have an important free agent or two. At the very least we could discuss whether the team should offer such players arbitration. Though arbitration remains for free agents, it's quite different this year.
The Cubs only have one free agent, Shawn Camp. Manny Corpas also would have been a free agent, but he already declined a minor league assignment and is a free agent. It's still worth pointing out some of the changes that the new CBA brought. There are no more type A and type B free agents. In order to receive compensation for a free agent lost, the team must provide the free agent with a qualifying offer. This is determined by the average of the top 125 highest paid players. This year the qualifying offer is no less than $13.3 million. Obviously the Cubs will not make a qualifying offer to Camp so it will be no sooner than next year before this is even in the discussion for the Cubs.
Teams have until five days after the World Series to make a qualifying offer and the player then has 7 days to accept or reject it. If a player accepts the offer he goes back on his team's 40-man roster and will earn $13.3 million next season, or more if the team offers more than that. If a player rejects it he is then a free agent and the team that made the qualifying offer would then get a compensation pick if the player signs elsewhere.
That compensation pick will take place between rounds 1 and 2. The team that signed the player will lose a 1st or 2nd round pick depending on where they are slotted to pick in next year's draft.
The signing team will lose a 1st round pick as long as it doesn't have a top 10 pick. If it does, they lose their 2nd round pick. Unlike before, that lost pick is not given to the former team. It's just lost. Every other team moves up a spot in the draft.
This new system makes it especially difficult to accrue multiple 1st and 2nd round picks. For a rebuilding team like the Cubs, this CBA made their job quite a bit harder. In the past you'd even see relievers, not even closers, offered arbitration when those players qualified as type A or B free agents. Then the team would get a draft pick. Those days are over. Only the most elite relievers will receive a qualifying offer. There are few of them in the game.
This doesn't affect the Cubs this year. There's nothing to discuss as far as Shawn Camp is concerned. Perhaps the Cubs re-sign him, but there is no chance they make a qualifying offer. Unfortunatley, the Cubs won't have a pick after their 1st, which will be 2nd overall, until after the compensation picks between rounds 1 and 2.
Since Chris Volstad was placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals, the Cubs have only 5 arbitration eligible players. Matt Garza is eligible for the fourth time while Ian Stewart a third time. Luis Valbuena, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija are all eligible for the first time. Matt Swartz projected their salaries awhile back. The total for these 5 is $17.0 million, but I'm still guessing that Ian Stewart will be non-tendered. Swartz projected $2.3 million for Stewart.
At the Major League level, the Cubs only have four players under contract: Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol, David DeJesus and Starlin Castro. Jorge Soler and Gerardo Concepcion are also under contract and on the team's 40-man roster. Those 6 will be paid about $38.25 million next year.
The arbitration eligible players and players with guaranteed contracts will be paid around $55.25 million.
Offensively, the Cubs have holes at 3rd base and CF. The rotation is one big hole after Garza and Samardzija. They've got plenty of money to spend so it will be interesting to see how they fill these holes.