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Cubs likely to tender contracts to all arbitration-eligible players

CHICAGO -- Wednesday marks the deadline for teams to tender contracts to players who are arbitration eligible. The Chicago Cubs have nine who qualify, including newcomers Rex Brothers and Ryan Cook. Players who are non-tendered automatically become free agents but can re-sign with their old team as well.

All nine are likely to be tendered a contract for 2016: Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Clayton Richard, Hector Rondon, Travis Wood, Chris Coghlan, Cook and Brothers.

At first glance, Wood could be considered a non-tender candidate -- considering he was moved to the bullpen midseason but was being paid as a starter coming off of 2014. But his $5.686 million salary isn’t a payroll killer, and he performed well producing a 2.95 ERA in 45 games while allowing 43 hits in 58 innings as a reliever. Replacing him with a free agent would probably mean a multi-year commitment so keeping Wood in his current role for another year could be the best move.

If a player is tendered a contract, he’s guaranteed at least 80 percent of his previous season’s salary, though usually he’s given a raise through the arbitration process. Teams and players are likely to agree on at least a one-year deal, which avoids a February arbitration hearing. After a successful season, arbitration raises can increase a payroll significantly. Arrieta is due about a $10 million raise himself for his Cy Young performance.

“When you play well, you play well because of good players who went out and performed well on the field so they make more money in arbitration, and you’re thrilled about that,” President Theo Epstein said early in the offseason. “It means they contributed to a winning season, and they deserve raises.”