Why extending Oneri Fleita and possibly Tim Wilken’s contract doesn’t matter

A part of me does wonder whether these kind of moves aren’t as bold or suggestive as I think. Consider this: we fully expect the Cubs to dump Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano this Winter, eating tens of millions of dollars in the process. Would it really be so shocking for Ricketts to be willing to eat these personnel extensions, too, if the new GM wants to bring in his own guys? — Bleacher Nation

Exactly. The days of the Cubs being unwilling to eat a contract like Milton Bradley‘s are done. When you think about that situation the Cubs handled that perfeclty in that they didn’t just release him and they actually got a player who was useful for a year. The Cubs were reportedly interested in paying a huge percentage of Soriano’s contract to trade him and will do the same with Zambrano this offseason. Fleita and Wilken if signed will make probably less than a million bucks per year combined so that won’t be an issue.

Not to mention the buyouts included in the contract for Fleita and surely included in Wilken’s if he gets one. Ace goes on a bit and reaches a different answer than I did.

I actually think the answer is yes, despite the apparent bent of my rhetorical question. Sure, the financial cost would be relatively low – I have hard time imagining that Fleita and Wilken, combined, make more than $1 million per year. But the personal cost would be quite high. What kind of name do you make for yourself when you sign guys – expressly so they don’t take opportunities with other clubs – and then can them a couple months later, knowing all the while that it was how you expected things to play out?

As cold and calculating as Ricketts might be (and that’s a compliment), I don’t think even he wants to start out in baseball with that reputation – it remains a “people” business.

It is a people business, but there are ways to handle a situation like this if it comes up. Ideally Ricketts would have told Fleita and Wilken the situation, and by including buyouts and such in their contracts, he actually did so it would seem to me that these guys are well aware of what may happen. I also think the “name” he’d make for himself is one that shows that he’s not going to meddle in the business side of things if such a decision was made. I don’t think it would reflect poorly on Ricketts, but quite the opposite to be honest.

The reality here is that Fleita was kept around because he’s familiar with the system and any GM would want him around for at least the first season since he wouldn’t be taking over until sometime in November. Wilken has made one hell of a name for himself so I think most people not named mb21 thought that Wilken would be retained anyway. After all, when Andrew Friedman took over as the Rays GM, Tim Wilken was the scouting director and he didn’t fire him. Wilken left the following year for the Cubs. 

Regardless of why the Cubs did it, or whether or not it may reflect poorly on Ricketts, signing Fleita and eventually Wilken remain mostly inconsequential. Neither is going to make that much money and the Cubs are already interested in shipping away about $60 million or more so I’m pretty sure another million won’t be an issue.