Several Cubs Anticipating Salary Increases

The Cubs tendered contracts to five players last week who made approximately $9.8 million in 2004.

Many of those players, who all have between three and six years of service, could be in for some impressive raises in 2005.

Catcher Michael Barrett, pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Kyle Farnsworth, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and outfielder Corey Patterson have been offered contracts on Monday and have until Jan. 8 to accept or go to arbitration.

In the Cubs' recent history, they have avoided the arbitration process and usually hammer out deals in mid-January. In some cases, they have agreed to temporary one-year deals with players and re-worked multiyear deals with them in February.

Ramirez made $6 million in 2004 and had a great season, banging out 36 homers and driving in 103 runs. The Cubs will likely try to tie him down to a multiyear deal in the coming months, but he figures to make in the $8 million-to-$9 million range in 2005.

Zambrano will be interesting. He made just $440,000 in 2004 but tied with Greg Maddux for the team lead in victories (16), made the All-Star team and picked up some Cy Young award votes. He could be looking at a salary as high as $4 million for 2005.

Catcher Michael Barrett made $1.5 million in 2004, enjoyed career highs in homers (16) and RBI (65) and figures to receive a nice bump in his salary.

Center fielder Corey Patterson, who made $480,000 last season, will likely not break the bank, but he had a solid season (25 homers, 72 RBI, 32 stolen bases) and will also likely receive a nice upgrade in his paycheck.

NOTES, QUOTES

RHP Matt Clement had plenty of suitors but finally decided on the Boston Red Sox. Because the Cubs offered him arbitration, they will receive the Red Sox's first-round pick in the 2005 amateur draft.

LHP Kent Mercker signed a two-year deal with Cincinnati on Dec. 20. Mercker made 71 appearances and posted a 2.55 ERA out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2004.

LF Moises Alou was involved in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 18 but was unharmed. He signed a two-year deal with San Francisco on Dec. 22.

IF-OF Jose Macias signed a one-year, $825,000 deal on Dec. 20. Macias is a valuable bench player who played five different positions -- including all three outfield spots -- for the team in 2004. He hit .268 with three homers and 22 RBI in 98 games.

OF Todd Hollandsworth, who was a spark off the bench before he injured his right shin in June, signed a one-year deal with the Cubs Monday. Hollandsworth hit .318 with eight homers and 22 RBI in 57 games before he fouled a ball off his right shin against the Chicago White Sox on June 27 and missed the rest of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: .355--Batting average of reserve Jose Macias in his final 17 appearances of the 2004 season. The Cubs signed him to a one-year deal last week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was completely surprised at the whole thing--how it came out and what came out. I never knew there was a problem. All I've ever done, basically, is try to defend him and help him and pray for him and light candles for him in the church... and I'm not even Catholic." -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker on his rift with star right fielder Sammy Sosa.

ROSTER REPORT

The Cubs, whose postseason expectations fell short thanks to a 3-7 finish to the 2004 season, are still looking for a closer, and they will try to get into the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes if they can unload RF Sammy Sosa.

ARRIVALS: C Henry Blanco (free agent from Minnesota).

DEPARTURES: RHP Matt Clement (free agent to Boston), Kent Mercker (free agent to Cincinnati), Moises Alou (free agent to San Francisco).

BIGGEST NEEDS: With the shoulder injury to Joe Borowski and the struggles of LaTroy Hawkins (nine blown saves), the Cubs are keeping an eye open for a reliable closer for 2005.

FREE AGENTS: C Paul Bako, OF Tom Goodwin, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, OF Ben Grieve, OF Todd Hollandsworth, INF Ramon Martinez.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: C Michael Barrett, RHP Kyle Farnsworth, OF Corey Patterson, 3B Aramis Ramirez, RHP Carlos Zambrano.

The Cubs have never gone to arbitration since Andy MacPhail took over as the team president in 1994. The Cubs are considering pinning down Ramirez to a long-term deal. Farnsworth could be trade bait. Barrett, Patterson and Zambrano were tendered contracts.

IN LIMBO: RF Sammy Sosa left the team without permission during the season finale against Atlanta, and the Cubs are looking to unload him. There are reports that RHP pitcher Kyle Farnsworth left that game early as well, and the Cubs also might be dangling him out there. Farnsworth can throw 100 mph, but his consistency has always been a problem. RHP LaTroy Hawkins could also be mentioned in some trade proposals.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Joe Borowski (partially torn right rotator cuff) hopes that a few months off will help strengthen his arm for 2005. Surgery was not needed for the shoulder, but he did undergo arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee.


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