If the Cubs and Yankees come to an agreement on a trade for Pena, New York is on the hook for 1/6th of his $10 million contact. So the Cubs would save roughly $1.6 million on what they owe Pena.
Here’s the question the organization is now pondering: is that short-term savings worth giving up a player they want in the future? The idea of the Cubs entering into a huge bidding war for free-agents-to-be Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder seems remote. Both players will be looking for contracts that are in the $150-200 million range. Cubs’ ownership is probably not ready to get into those types of long-term commitments. After Fielder and Pujols, Pena is the third-best free agent on the market at first base.
Therefore, if the Cubs don’t trade Pena, they have five weeks before free agency beings to negotiate with him on a new deal (free agency begins the day after the World Series ends). Pena might not be Fielder of Pujols, but he brings a solid skill set to first base; he’s a great clubhouse guy, outstanding defender and has consistently produced 25-homer seasons throughout his career. Saving a relatively small amount of money, on a trade for Pena really makes no sense for the Cubs, who may need him to add credibility to their team and lineup next season.
The waiver process
Here’s the process the Cubs and Yankees must go through in order to make a trade: After the claim takes place, the teams have 48 hours to come reach an agreement. Baseball’s trade waivers are in effect from Aug. 1 to the end of the World Series. However, a player must be dealt before Sept. 1 to be on a postseason roster. After 48 hours, if the teams involved in a waiver situation can’t come to an agreement, the player involved automatically goes back to his present team. In this case, Pena would go back to the Cubs. He could not go on waivers again for 30 days.
Hundreds of players go on the waiver wire this time of year; it’s a formality. The other type of waivers is called outright waivers. If a player is placed on outright waivers, any team can put a claim in on him without giving compensation. The claiming team simply assumes the remainder of a player’s contract. (The White Sox claimed Alex Rios and his $60 million contract on outright waivers in 2009. Toronto got nothing back in return except a spot on its 40-man roster.)