12/2 Extra bases

* The Cubs are expected to tender contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players before Monday’s 10:59 p.m. CT deadline. Players not tendered before that deadline will become free agents. The Cubs have nine players who are arbitration eligible, including infielders Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy; outfielder Nate Schierholtz; and pitchers Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, Daniel Bard, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.

The main reason teams might non-tender a player is because he is arbitration eligible and due for a raise higher than the team is willing to pay.

This is the third year Schierholtz is arbitration eligible, the second year for Samardzija, Russell, Valbuena, and Murphy, and the first year for Bard, Barney, Strop and Wood. According to salaries projected by MLBTradeRumors.com, if the Cubs tender contracts to all nine players, they’ll be adding $21.5 million to the payroll. The Cubs have committed $49 million to six players for 2014 and will be paying $14 million to the Yankees to cover the last year of Alfonso Soriano’s contract.

*The Cubs have reportedly re-signed outfielder Darnell McDonald to a Minor League deal. He has a career .285/.353/.453 slash line against left-handed pitchers (12-for-28 this season with Cubs). McDonald played in 25 games with the Cubs this season, and was outrighted to the Minor Leagues on Oct. 8. He became a free agent Oct. 15.

* According to FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have reached an agreement with catcher Dioner Navarro on a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro, 29, batted .300 in 89 games last season with the Cubs, hitting a career-high 13 home runs, including three in one game, and driving in 34. Navarro was paid $1.75 million last year. The Cubs have signed George Kottaras to be their backup catcher in 2014.

* Steve Wilson, who was the Pacific Rim and Mexico scouting coordinator for the Cubs, has joined the Yankees as the Pacific Rim scouting coordinator/international crosschecker. Wilson pitched for the Cubs from 1989-91.

— Carrie Muskat


I will miss Navarro!! Kottaras doesn’t come close to filling Navarro’s boots in my opinion. Hope he proves me wrong!

Yes, White, I surely agree. Kottaras is a warm body and can fog a mirror. This should tell everyone the Cubs are not serious about competing in 2014.

Quoting Doug, Navarro had a good season, the Cubs finished last.
Kottaras signing much cheaper and the Cubs cant do any worse.
Again, its a back up catcher, whats the big deal?

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Back up catchers see abundant playing time, Jasper, moreso than any other position player you care to name. That position takes its toll on the body and even the best catchers in the game need plenty of days off during the course of a marathon season. Quality clubs need second string catchers who can contribute.

Jhosk, there is no doubt in what you stated, being a long time baseball fan, I realize that.
Navarro signed at 8 Million for two years. Keeping in mind that the Cubs still finished last.
Kottaras signed 1 year at a little over 1 million. Management knows they wont compete this year, so they save 7 Million dollars.
Can that 7 million be put elsewhere? Signing Kottaras for one year, shows he wont be around too long. Just to back up Castillo for a year.
Honestly, I am happy the 7 Million can be put towards?? Signing Samardizja? Going after Tanaka? Signing Baker hoping he does well for a July Trade, like Maholm & Feldman? Paying the raises for arbitration players? Maybe a FA like Scherholtz?
I like the move, leaves them with options for using that 7 Million.

Yes, I see your point. I know it was not realistic to bring Navarro back, but also reckon for the $1 million, we could have signed someone with more potential production than Kottaras projects giving us.

That is a very good point, but do you know of any Catcher they could have signed for 1 Million for 1 year that would have been to your liking?

Not off hand, Jasper. Will need to do research on that one.

Kottaras is a better defensive catcher than Navarro. I think back-up catchers are more important if they are good defensive.

I agree Lyle Ernst, not sure, but I think it was a early April game that Navarro broke a ML record with 5 Passed Balls in one inning.
His bat won a couple games, but I question how many were lost on defense.
Even Castillo had a rough year on defense, but he did improve his game the last couple months of the season.

Why are we still arguing about the backup catcher? People, there is no such thing as the perfect backup catcher! If a backup catcher plays well enough, guess what, they will probably be a starting catcher the next season. See Navarro, Dioner. Since the Cubs already have a starting catcher to their liking, they didn’t need to fork out the multi-year contract and, as Jasper pointed out, saved $7 million and a year of roster flexibility in finding Navarro’s replacement. And yes, backup catchers do play once to twice a week, but they are far from the key to a winning team. All you’d like from a backup catcher is that they can bring something to the table. If it’s some additional power, the ability to switch hit, and several seasons of experience just like Navarro had, then great. If it’s some additional power, a left-handed bat, some decent experience, and the ability to get on base at a decent clip despite a low average just like Kottaras has, then great as well. And let’s not forget either that when Navarro was signed by the Cubs, he was a sub-.250 career hitter who had just spent most of the last season at AAA. So let’s stop pretending that Navarro was the backup catcher that everyone wanted and the Cubs were lucky to land him. If anything, they were lucky that Navarro played as well as he did and now are hoping for the same kind of turn around for Kottaras. And if it doesn’t happen again, then at least they have $7 million in their pockets to do with as they please. Argument about backup catchers over!

No, it is not over.

Okay, then what else do you have to say about it?

If our second string catcher plays twice a week, that means he will be involved in north of forty games. Is very important that guy is talented both offensively and defensively. As far as position players on a club, what`s a more critical area than that? I hope I`m wrong, but the guy we signed sounds unimpressive.

My point is of course the backup catcher is going to be unimpressive. If they were good at both hitting and defense, then chances are they would be looking for a team that would be willing to play them more than 40 games a season. Again, what catcher available that’s good at hitting and defense would be willing to sign with the Cubs with the understanding that he’s the backup and will only play 40 games next year? Your choices for a backup catcher are usually old guys who couldn’t physically handle more than 40 games a season (see Blanco, Henry), middle-aged jouneymen who are looking to latch on and maybe improve their value for one last chance at being a starter (see Navarro, Dioner circa 2012 offseason), or young players who are looking to break into the big leagues and become the starter sooner rather than later (see Castillo, Welington prior to 2013 season). The Cubs had success with Navarro as a middle-aged journeyman last season and are now trying the same with Kottaras. They don’t have any young catchers ready for the majors at the moment and I’m fairly certain that 94-year old guys like Henry Blanco, Ramon Hernandez, Koyie Hill, Miguel Olivo, Humberto Quintero, Kelly Shoppach, or Yorvit Torrealba would fail to impress anyone as well. In closing, you aren’t looking for a complete player for a backup catcher position. You hope you can bring in someone with something to offer, which Kottaras does, and hope you can get the most out of them for the season. Sandy Alomar, Jr. circa 1997 is not going to be your backup catcher, so if that’s what you’re hoping for then you need to readjust your expectations! Now can we be done with this stupid argument?

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