Cubs tender contracts to Garza, five others

Cubs tender contracts to Garza, five others

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have non-tendered catcher Koyie Hill, but did tender contracts to their other arbitration eligible players -- Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Matt Garza, Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, and Randy Wells.

The deadline for tendering contracts to any arbitration eligible players was 11 p.m. CT Monday. Because Hill was non-tendered, he is now a free agent.

Hill, 32, batted .194 in 46 games, including 38 starts. The Cubs were 22-16 in games in which he started. The team could look internally for a backup, with both Welington Castillo and the up-and-coming Steve Clevenger as options.

Garza, 28, went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in 31 starts in his first season with the Cubs. Acquired on Jan. 8 from the Rays in an eight-player deal, he was a hard-luck pitcher. He left a game with the lead but did not factor in the decision seven times. Garza made $5.95 million in 2011.

Baker, 30, a utility infielder, batted .269 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 81 games (42 starts), including a .314 average against left-handed pitchers. He was 4-for-30 as a pinch-hitter.

DeWitt, 26, hit .265 in 121 games with five homers and 26 RBIs in 121 games in his first full season with the Cubs. Acquired from the Dodgers on July 31, 2010, in the Ted Lilly deal, DeWitt batted .406 against lefties.

In his fourth full season, Soto, who turns 29 on Jan. 20, batted .228 with 17 homers, 26 doubles and 54 RBIs in 125 games. If Soto stays on the same pace, he should have a stellar season in 2012. In '08, he won National League Rookie of the Year, batting .285, and followed that with a disappointing .218 season in '09. In 2010, he hit .280, and his average dropped this past season. He earned $3 million in 2011.

Wells, 29, missed nearly two months with a strained right forearm, which he felt after his first start on April 4. The right-hander did not return until May 28, and went 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 23 starts, giving up a career-high 23 home runs. His best month was August, when he was 4-0 with a 3.32 ERA in six starts.

Stewart, 26, was acquired last Thursday from the Rockies along with pitcher Casey Weathers in exchange for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu. Stewart is coming off of an injury-interrupted season, which began with him injuring his knee in a freak collision on the first play of Spring Training.

He split the 2011 season between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs. He batted .156 with six doubles in 48 games with the Rockies and hit .275 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs in 45 games in the Minor Leagues. His season ended in August because of a wrist injury.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.