11/30/08 3:45 PM EST
Cubs likely to offer Wood arbitration
Chicago would receive two Draft picks if closer signs elsewhere
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Teams must decide by 10:59 p.m. CT on Monday whether to offer arbitration to their six-year free agents. By doing so, a team will guarantee itself two Draft picks for any Type A free agent it loses, and one Draft pick (sandwich pick) for a Type B free agent. The club cannot get compensation for any free agent it loses if it does not offer arbitration.
Wood is rated as a Type A free agent, as is Howry, while the other Cubs players are non-compensatory.
As for Wood, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said last week that it is unlikely the team will re-sign Wood, because it could not offer him a multiyear deal. Wood will be courted by several teams in need of bullpen help. But by offering arbitration, the Cubs would receive compensation if he signs elsewhere. Wood, 31, saved 34 games in 2008, his first season as a closer.
The Cubs were expected to part ways with Howry, 35, who struggled much of the season, the final year of a three-year contract. The right-hander posted a 7-5 record with a 5.35 ERA, which included a 6.93 ERA in the second half. If they did offer arbitration to Howry just to get compensation, there's a chance he would accept, and the Cubs would then be committed to keeping the reliever and paying him more than the $4.5 million he earned in 2008.
The Cubs have other options in the bullpen for a right-handed setup pitcher, especially with the addition of Kevin Gregg, acquired from Florida, and the emergence of Jeff Samardzija. Righty Carlos Marmol will likely take over the closer duties.
Hampered by injuries throughout the past season, Ward, 33, batted .216 in 89 games. The Cubs could insert Micah Hoffpauir into Ward's role as the left-handed bat off the bench.
Players have until Dec. 7 to accept or reject arbitration.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.