Outfielder Goodwin staying, too
The second baseman agreed to a one-year deal Sunday that guarantees him $2.75 million.
He'll get 2.5 million next season, and then the Cubs have a $2.75 million option for 2005 with a $250,000 buyout. If Grudzielanek has 575 plate appearances in 2004, he would guaranteed the option at $3.25 million, for a maximum total value of $5.75 million, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports.
"I enjoyed it there. The fans were great," Grudzielanek said. "It was really a treat playing under Dusty. And with the kind of guys we have, how could you not want to come back?"
The Cubs also reached an agreement Sunday with outfielder Tom Goodwin on a $650,000, one-year contract, and announced they would not offer arbitration to their nine remaining free agents, meaning they can't re-sign them until May 1. Included in the group are outfielder Kenny Lofton, former closer Antonio Alfonseca, first baseman Eric Karros and left-hander Shawn Estes.
He was traded to the Cubs from the Los Angeles Dodgers last December in what might be general manager Jim Hendry's best deal to date. Expected to back up prospect Bobby Hill at second, the veteran instead won the job and wound up being a key in the Cubs playoff run.
Despite missing a month with a broken hand, Grudzielanek hit .314 and had a slugging percentage of .416, his best numbers since 1999. He also had a team-high 38 doubles and 38 RBIs. He committed eight errors at second for a fielding percentage of .986.
"He did a great job for us," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said earlier this week. "It was the best year he's had in awhile, and I think he's got a lot of mileage left on him."
Grudzielanek, a career .285 hitter, said he had interest from other teams. But most seemed to be offering comparable money to the Cubs, making his return an easy choice. Not only does he like playing for Baker, he's comfortable in Chicago, which is a short drive from his hometown of Milwaukee.
He also was encouraged by moves Hendry has made this offseason to improve a team that was five outs from going to the World Series. The Cubs signed reliever LaTroy Hawkins on Wednesday, and acquired first baseman Derrek Lee from Florida on Nov. 25.
"No question we have the pieces in place," Grudzielanek said. "And they're making an effort to get over the hump of that one game we couldn't last year."
The Cubs signed Goodwin to a minor league contract last January to bolster their bench, and he was better than they could have expected. His .345 average as a pinch-hitter led the team, and his .287 average overall was his highest since 1988. He had 12 RBIs and a team-high 19 steals, giving him 364 for his career.
Goodwin has hit .269 with 24 homers and 281 RBIs in 13 years with Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Texas, Colorado and San Francisco.
The Cubs had hoped to bring Lofton back as a fourth outfielder or insurance in case Corey Patterson isn't ready for spring training. But the 36-year-old Lofton is looking for a starter's job -- and the money to go with it.
Letting Estes and Alfonseca go was hardly a surprise. Estes was demoted to the bullpen in September and wasn't on the playoff roster. Alfonseca struggled in Chicago, going 5-6 with a 4.86 ERA. He lost his closer's job to Joe Borowski when he got hurt in spring training, and never challenged to get it back. The Cubs also said they won't offer arbitration to Doug Glanville, Mark Guthrie, Eric Karros, Troy O'Leary, Dave Veres and Tony Womack.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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