Now that the 2012 season is officially over (remind me to send God a thank you note on that), it’s time to look at this team to see what is on the horizon.

Several players are eligible for salary arbitration this off-season. Salary values in parenthesis are predictions based on MLB Trade Rumors calculations.

  • First time: Luis Valbuena ($900K), Jeff Samardzija ($2.9MM), James Russell ($900K)
  • Second time: None
  • Third time: Ian Stewart ($2.3MM)
  • Fourth time: Matt Garza ($10MM)

If you’re unfamiliar with how the process works, teams and players have the option of trying to work out a deal before the hearings take place, but regardless of that, should the Cubs offer arbitration to these players (which means they aren’t outright released or traded), both the player and the team must submit a salary number for 2013 to an arbitrator. The arbitrator then hears both sides and chooses one of the submitted amounts. Generally, most players tend to work out a deal before the hearings, but it’s not a lock. We don’t have a great deal of history on the Epstein / Hoyer era, so we’ll see what happens there. I can see Stewart getting non-tendered. The others should be back.

There are also several players who have guaranteed deals for 2013 and beyond.

  • Starlin Castro, SS: $60MM through 2019
  • Alfonso Soriano, OF: $38MM through 2014
  • Jorge Soler, OF: $26MM through 2020
  • Carlos Marmol, RP: $9.8MM through 2013
  • David DeJesus, OF: $5.75MM through 2013
  • Gerardo Concepcion, SP: $4.8MM through 2016

There are rumors that Soriano wants to play for a contender and try to win a world series before he retires. Given the fact that his deal is slowing reaching the end and the fact that he proved he can be a productive member of a lineup, I can actually see a deal happening sometime this off-season.

In the coming week or so, you’ll probably see various plans on how to improve this team. In my opinion, if those plans include a big name free agent signing this year, it’s a mistake. We’ll see what happens.

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Sad news out of the Arizona Fall League as one of our top prospects, Javier Baez, injured his thumb and is probably done for the rest of the fall league season. According to the story on Cubs.com “The Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, Baez batted .333 in 57 games with Class A Peoria and .188 in 23 games with Class A Daytona this season, his first in pro ball. The injury will not keep Baez from being ready for Spring Training.”

Anytime you have a player playing in the off-season, you obviously risk injury. Based on how he was performing, some may say that it’s probably for the best that he can sit so it doesn’t go to his head. I’d disagree and argue that any plate appearances in the AFL help develop due to the level of competition. Despite the injury, I’m still very excited about what the future holds for Baez.

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In other news, the NBA started last night. Raise your hand if you care. OK, I’ll be honest, I don’t care if you care, case I don’t care. When Derek Rose broke himself in the playoffs, it broke my heart and caused me to not be excited about this season whatsoever. I’m going to watch should we make the playoffs, but it’s just hard to get excited about regular season basketball. Maybe I’m just a scrooge, but I’m not buying the NBA.

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Joe’s iPod Song of the Day

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail