Cubs decline options on Alou, Grudzielanek

Updated: October 28, 2004, 7:28 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Moises Alou might not be roaming left field at Wrigley Field anymore.

The Chicago Cubs declined an $11.5 million mutual option on the outfielder Thursday and will pay him a $2.5 million buyout. The Cubs also declined a $2.5 million option on second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, paying him a $250,000 buyout instead.

Grudzielanek then filed for free agency, as did Todd Walker, who filled in for Grudzielanek when he was hurt. Left-hander Glendon Rusch, right-hander Matt Clement and shortstop Ramon Martinez also filed for free agency.

The decisions not to bring back Alou and Grudzielanek were hardly a surprise. Alou led the team with a career-high 39 homers and 106 RBIss -- the fifth time in his career he's topped 100 RBIss -- and said he wanted to come back to Chicago next year.

But the Cubs are looking for a younger and cheaper option than the 38-year-old as they remake their roster after a late-season collapse that cost them a spot in the playoffs.

"It's up to the front office," Alou said at the end of the season. "To go somewhere else is going to be tough."

Alou hit .283 with 76 home runs and 258 RBIss in three seasons with the Cubs. He's a career .300 hitter, with 278 homers and 1,092 RBIss, and is a four-time All-Star. He also has a World Series ring from 1997, when he hit three homers and drove in nine runs in Florida's victory over Cleveland.

Grudzielanek hit .307, but he missed most of the first two months of the season with inflammation in his right Achilles' tendon, and only played 81 games. The Cubs will either look for a new second baseman or bring back Walker, who was stellar as a fill-in for Grudzielanek. Walker has said he'd like to return to Chicago, but he also wants to be a starter.

The Cubs are expected to try and bring back Rusch, who was 6-2 with a 3.47 ERA and one of the brightest spots on the team. A journeyman who'd never had a winning season or an ERA lower than 4.00 in seven seasons with Kansas City, the New York Mets and the Milwaukee Brewers, Rusch blossomed in Chicago.

Thrown into the rotation because of injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, he went 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 16 starts. He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA as a reliever, and converted each of his two save opportunities.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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