Cubs, ex-ace Prior part ways
Cubs pitcher Mark Prior, Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka, Astros shortstop Adam Everett and Mets catcher Johnny Estrada were among 43 players non-tendered by their clubs by Wednesday's midnight deadline, according to a filing obtained by SI.com.
Players on the list were not offered contracts by their current clubs and thus became free agents.
The right-handed Prior, the second overall pick in the 2001 draft and the second runnerup in the 2003 NL Cy Young Award race, missed the 2007 season due to injury and the Cubs' decision was not a surprise.
Prior had arthrosopic surgery on his right shoulder in April 2007. He'd been ticketed for the minors after a spring training in which he was limited because of the shoulder problems. In 2006, he made only nine appearances.
Prior is 42-29 with a 3.51 ERA in the majors. He made $3,575,000 last season. Prior finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2003, when he 18-6 with a 4.24 ERA and struck out 245 in 211 1-3 innings.
Otsuka, a late-inning reliever who went 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA, missed the second half of the year with an injury to his elbow area.
The slick-fielding, light-hitting Everett was displaced earlier Wednesday when the Astros acquired star shortstop Miguel Tejada for five young players.
Estrada was acquired by the Mets in a trade that sent struggling reliever Guillermo Mota to Milwaukee before the Mets traded for Brian Schneider, who is expected to be their starting catcher. Estrada was arbitration eligible after making $4 million in 2007.
Other players not offered contracts by their teams included included outfielder Emil Brown (Kansas City), reliever Kiko Calero (Oakland), reliever Brendan Donnelly (Boston), pitcher Chad Durbin (Detroit) and infielder Morgan Ensberg (San Diego).
Others on the list were outfielder Willie Harris (Atlanta), pitcher Mark Hendrickson (Dodgers), outfielder Jason Lane (San Diego), infielder Dallas McPherson (Angels), outfielder Kevin Mench (Milwaukee), infielder Aaron Miles (St. Louis), catcher Miguel Olivo (Florida), pitcher Josh Towers (Toronto), outfielder Jason Tyner (Minnesota) and reliever Matt Wise (Milwaukee).
Several players agreed to one-year contracts: utility infielder Chris Gomez ($1 million) with Pittsburgh; relievers Seth McClung ($750,000) and Greg Aquino ($500,000) and catcher Mike Rivera ($395,000) with Milwaukee; and lefty Lenny DiNardo ($900,000) with Oakland.
Left-hander Tim Byrdak ($712,500) and the Detroit Tigers avoided salary arbitration. Washington agreed to 2008 contracts with right-handers John Patterson, Luis Ayala and Ryan Wagner, also avoiding arbitration.