The Cubs exercised their part of the option for Aramis Ramirez while he declined his. By exercising the option the Cubs are now off the hook for the $2 million buyout. Later in the day, the Cubs declined the $3.0 million option on Jeff Samardzija and will re-sign him for 20% less than he made last year. That would be $2.24 million and Samardzija would be eligible for arbitration after next season. The Cubs haven’t yet officially signed Samardzija, but they intend to.
It had become pretty clear to the Cubs over the last couple months that Ramirez wanted a multi-year contract. The Cubs made the smart decision to exercise the option and they saved a couple million. The next decision with regards to Ramirez is whether or not they will offer him arbitration. The Cubs have until November 23rd to do so. If Ramirez signs before then the Cubs automatically get a sandwich pick in next June’s draft. If they do not offer arbitration and he signs elsewhere, they get nothing.
Declining the option on Samardzija was basically common sense. You can pay him as much as 20% less than he made in 2011 or you can pay him more than he made. As much as some people may want to say this is a sign of good things from the front office, this is exactly what the last front office would have done. It’s what any front office would do. It was the only decision to make.
My guess is the Cubs do offer Ramirez arbitration, which brings up something else. The Red Sox, more often than not, let their own free agents walks at the end of their contracts in order to get draft picks. We can expect the Cubs will now do the same thing. They signed some, but not near as many as we’re used to seeing the Cubs re-sign. So don’t get too attached to any one player.