Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
As the Cubs continue with their organizational meetings in Arizona, reviewing their prospect base and free-agency options, small details are emerging before the front office has to make the major decisions that will shape the 2011 roster.
As expected, Aramis Ramirez has exercised his 14.6 million player option for next season. The Cubs officially received the paperwork before Thursdays deadline and there might not be a player more critical to their success.
Nagging injuries limited Ramirez to 124 games last season, and he went through an inexplicable slump that lasted for months, yet still finished with 25 home runs and 83 RBI, numbers that led the team in both categories.
Ramirez will turn 33 next year, and though he has said that he wont play much longer, he could be motivated to secure his next contract. By not opting out, the third baseman is also guaranteed at least a 2 million buyout of the 16 million club option for 2012, which would be automatically triggered if he was traded.
Quite simply, the Cubs as currently constructed do not have another offensive force like Ramirez. Here are the only other players with six or more seasons with at least 25 homers in a Cubs uniform: Sammy Sosa; Billy Williams; Ernie Banks; Ron Santo; and Ryne Sandberg.
Ramirez is wired differently than those five, but there will be few players on the open market with his potential to generate runs, and its uncertain how hard the Cubs will pursue them.
If the Cubs allocate their resources toward pitching and a modest upgrade at first base, they will need Ramirez more than ever.
Guzman agrees to minor-league deal
The Cubs once rated Angel Guzman as high as Carlos Zambrano in their minor-league system, but a series of injuries nearly shattered his career. Surgery to repair a significant ligament tear in Guzmans right shoulder wiped out his 2010 season just as he was being viewed as a reliable setup man out of the bullpen.
The Cubs outrighted Guzman off their 40-man roster, which stands at 37 players. The reliever who will turn 29 next month and missed most of 2007 and 2008 because of Tommy John surgery cleared waivers and agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league spring training.
The Cubs are planning to eventually add right-hander Chris Archer who at 22 is supposed to be the next big thing to the 40-man roster.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.