The Chicago Cubs have agreed to 1-year deals with 5 players – infielders Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker; catcher Koyie Hill; and pitchers Angel Guzman and Tom Gorzelanny. Each player was in his first year of being arbitration eligible.
Fontenot signed a $1 million deal for 2010. After a great 2008 in which he hit over .300, Fontenot came back down to earth in 2009, hitting just .236 in 135 games played.
Baker signed a $975,000 deal for 2010. The Cubs acquired Baker from the Colorado Rockies in July and he hit over .300 in 69 games for the north siders. Baker and Fontenot will be competing for the starting 2nd baseman job in Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona. If neither stands out, Manager Lou Pinella could implement a platoon.
Catcher Koyie Hill signed a $700,000 deal to be the Cubs backup catcher behind Geovany Soto in 2010. While Soto was injured in 2009, Hill made 26 consecutive starts from July 7th through August 5th. Hill only batted .237 but he handled the pitching staff very well.
The Cubs acquired Tom Gorzelanny from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal that also brought over John Grabow. The Cubs and Gorzelanny agreed upon an $800,000 deal for 2010. Gorzelanny appeared in 13 games for the Cubs, going 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA. Gorzelanny actually fared better in relief, holding opponents to just a .192 batting average during those 6 appearances.
Angel Guzman signed an $825,000 deal after arguably his best season as a Cubs reliever. Guzman appeared in 55 games posting a 2.95 ERA (2.03 ERA at home at Wrigley Field). He held opponents scoreless in 40 of his 55 appearances, including 34 of his last 42 games. Assuming Guzman can stay healthy, he will play a pivotal role in the Cubs bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule.
The final 3 Cubs players who are arbitration eligible will make a huge impact on the success of the 2010 squad.
Carlos Marmol will be the Cubs opening day closer. Marmol made $575,000 in 2009 and he will become a free agent in 2013. Marmol took over the closer’s role from Kevin Gregg at the end of the season and provided a stable force at the back end of the ‘pen. Marmol ended up saving 15 games, while holding 27 games in 79 appearances. His 65 walks in 74 innings, however, is still a major concern.
Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs opening day shortstop and will likely lead off for the Cubs. Theriot made $500,000 in 2009. Theriot hit .284 with a .343 on-base percentage in 154 games for the Cubs. His games played, at-bats (602), triples (5), home runs (7) and RBI’s (54) were all career highs.
Sean Marshall will either be in the starting rotation on opening day or serve a vital role in the Cubs bullpen as a lefty reliever. Marshall made $450,000 in 2009 and will be a free agent in 2013. Marshall can start and come out of the bullpen, so his versatility is invaluable.
GM Hendry still has his work cut out for him. Let’s hope he can ink smart deals with Marmol, Theriot and Marshall soon.