12/12 Arbitration deadline

The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players is 11 p.m. CT Monday. For the Cubs, this will mean decisions on seven players: Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Koyie Hill, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart and Randy Wells. If a team decides to non-tender a player, he would become a free agent.

* Baker, 30, batted .269 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 81 games (42 starts), including a .314 average against left-handed pitchers. He was 4-for-30 as a pinch-hitter. He made $1.175 million in 2011.

* DeWitt, 26, hit .265 in 121 games with five homers and 26 RBIs in 121 games in his first full season with the Cubs. Acquired from the Dodgers on July 31, 2010, in the Ted Lilly deal, DeWitt batted .406 against lefties. He made $460,000 this year.

* Garza, 28, went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 31 starts in his first season with the Cubs. Acquired on Jan. 8 from the Rays in an eight-player deal, he was the hard-luck pitcher. He left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision seven times. Garza made $5.95 million in 2011.

* Hill, 32, batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. Hill made $850,000 this year. He may be the only one non-tendered, and the Cubs could look at Welington Castillo as a backup catcher.

* In his fourth full season, Soto, who turns 29 on Jan. 20, batted .228 with 17 homers, 26 doubles and 54 RBIs in 125 games. If Soto stays on the same pace, he should have a stellar season in 2012. In ’08, he won National League Rookie of the Year, batting .285, and followed that with a disappointing .218 season in ’09. In 2010, he hit .280, and his average dropped this past season. He received $3 million in 2011.

* Wells, 29, missed nearly two months with a strained right forearm, which he felt after his first start April 4. The right-hander did not return until May 28, and went 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 23 starts, giving up a career-high 23 home runs. His best month was August when Wells was 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in six starts. He received $475,000 in 2011.

* Stewart, 26, is the newest Cub. Acquired on Thursday from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, the third baseman made $2,228,750 this season.

– Carrie Muskat

1 Comment

FINALLY. It took the firing of Hendry to have any chance of Hill being removed from the roster. If Hill calls such a good game…make him a coach, but PLEASE don’t ever let him have another at bat in a Cub uniform. Baker and DeWitt? Blah, blah, blah. They can be useful insurance, average (at best?) pinch hitters, traded, tendered, non-tendered, tenderized…whatever. The two seem to fall perfectly into the “insignificant” player category created by Hendry. Whether they stay or go, it certainly seems reasonable to think Epstein can find just as useful players for less money, it seems to be his pattern early in his Cub career. Justified of course as he will not be wasting valuable payroll flexability as Hendry did. I think Epstein is lurking in the weeds to make a QUALITY move….this year or next. At least he knows good things will take time.

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