All unsigned Cubs expecting contracts

All unsigned Cubs expect contracts

LAS VEGAS -- The Cubs are expected to tender contracts to all of their unsigned players on the 40-man roster, including relievers Neal Cotts, Michael Wuertz, Chad Gaudin and Kevin Gregg.

The other players on the Cubs' list include shortstop Ronny Cedeno and outfielder Reed Johnson.

Friday is the deadline for teams to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who have three to six years service time. Players not tendered a contract become free agents.

Last year, the Cubs opted to non-tender Mark Prior, and he became a free agent and signed with San Diego. Prior had been limited because of injuries, and the Cubs did not want to commit to a hefty contract because they weren't sure he would be available until June. Prior did not pitch at all for the Padres in 2008.

This year's crop of candidates are healthy and expected to contribute. Gregg was acquired last month from the Florida Marlins for Minor League pitcher Jose Ceda and will likely be the right-handed setup pitcher in the Cubs 'pen. Cotts is one of two left-handed options for the 'pen, joining Sean Marshall.

Gaudin was acquired from Oakland last July, with Rich Harden, but was limited to 24 games with the Cubs because of a back injury.

Johnson was added in March after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays and hit .303 for the Cubs. He could find himself in a platoon in center field with Kosuke Fukudome if the Cubs can find a left-handed bat for right field.

Cedeno is a valuable part of the Cubs bench and able to play second and short as well as the outfield. He hit .269 last season.

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