Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Updated 5:55 PM
By Patrick Mooney
Around the Cubs at least from a baseball operations perspective it has been a relatively quiet offseason and without much payroll flexibility it could remain that way through the coming months. The White Sox stole all the headlines Thursday by reportedly grabbing free-agent slugger Adam Dunn, who wont be hitting home runs onto Sheffield Avenue. The buzz will increase next week at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where the Cubs will be targeting a first baseman, starter andor reliever. But first the Cubs reached an agreement Thursday with Jeff Baker on a one-year deal worth 1.175 million to avoid arbitration. As expected, the club also tendered 2011 contracts to the five other players eligible for arbitration: closer Carlos Marmol; left-handers Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny; and catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill. This week, while speaking to a newspaper in the Dominican Republic, Marmol confirmed that hes discussed a long-term extension with the Cubs and would like to remain in Chicago. Marmols representatives can make a compelling case. All Marmol did in his first full season as closer was save 38 games and strike out 138 hitters, which led all relievers in 2010. Marmols ratio of 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings pitched represented the highest mark for a reliever in major-league history. After earning 2.125 million, the 28-year-old will be in line for a significant raise during his second year of arbitration. The same goes for Marshall, who for 950,000 posted a 2.65 ERA in 80 games and might have been the teams most valuable player on a day-to-day basis. This is the first time Soto, who made 575,000 last season, is eligible for arbitration. A Rookie of the Year in 2008 and a massive disappointment the next, he timed it right by putting up numbers (.890 OPS) that compared favorably to the best catchers in the game. Baker, 29, is valued for his versatility and ability to hit left-handed pitching 49-for-140 last season, which translated to a .350 average and .945 OPS. He can play first, second or third base, as well as the outfield. He also provides insurance in case third baseman Aramis Ramirez gets injured again.Historically the Cubs and general manager Jim Hendry have avoided arbitration, settling dozens of cases before Ryan Theriot took the team to its first hearing since 1993 last February.
From the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, the new St. Louis infielder continued his media tour Thursday, questioning the clubhouse chemistry at Wrigley Field and saying that the decision to go to arbitration might have damaged his relationship with the team.
In the end, Theriots view of his own skills did not match up with judgments made by the Cubs.
There were definitely reasons that we had for doing that, Theriot said on WMVP-AM 1000. You wind up in a better place. You cant look back and thats the way I have to approach it (because) you cant say What ifwhat ifwhat if all day long. If you do that, you make yourself go crazy.
Was it a fun process? No, I didnt enjoy it one bit.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.