Cubs offer contracts to unsigned

Cubs offer contracts to unsigned players

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs announced they have tendered contracts to all remaining unsigned players, including outfielder Corey Patterson, who lost his job to new center fielder Juan Pierre.

Tuesday was the last day for teams to offer 2006 contracts to unsigned players on the 40-man roster. Players not offered contracts become free agents.

Patterson, 26, who hit .215 in a disappointing 2005 season, could be an option in right field. He was bumped from center when the Cubs acquired Pierre in a trade with the Florida Marlins.

The Cubs and free agent outfielder Jacque Jones came to an agreement Tuesday on a three-year deal. Jones, a left-handed hitter, batted .249 in 142 games with 23 home runs and 73 RBIs.

Both Patterson and Pierre are arbitration eligible, along with Jerry Hairston Jr., Will Ohman, Carlos Zambrano, and Mark Prior.

Players with at least three years of service in the Major Leagues, plus the most senior 17 percent of those with between two and three years service, are eligible for salary arbitration.

Prior's initial contract guaranteed his salary for 2006. However, once he became an arbitration-eligible player -- which he now is with 3 years, 131 days of Major League service -- he has the right to file for arbitration.

How does arbitration work? Players and teams will exchange figures, and if no agreement is reached, the case is heard before an arbitrator. Hendry and Cubs team president Andy MacPhail have never gone to arbitration with a player.

Tuesday's deadline has become an increasingly important date. Many teams will not offer contracts to non-free agent players who may see a huge raise in pay from an arbitrator. Those players then become free agents.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.