At the conclusion of the 2009 season the Arizona Diamondbacks had several decisions to make. The team had just completed a campaign where they anticipated battling for the National League Western Division crown.
Instead of being in the play-off hunt the team found themselves mired in injuries that resulted in a 72-90 season where they finished in last place. The team had already fired manager Bob Melvin and made changes in the coaching ranks. The front office turned its attention to the roster.
The highest profile decision they had to make was whether to pick up the option of staff ace
Brandon Webb who was recovering from shoulder surgery. That was not the only option the team had to deal with.
The other player the team held an option on was infielder Chad Tracy. Tracy had signed a long-term contract with the Diamondbacks. The team held high hopes that Tracy would become a consistent hitter and man third base for the team for years to come.
Like some of the other long-term contracts the Diamondbacks entered into lately, this one did not work out quite as well as the team expected. Injuries played a major part in that assessment.
In 2007 Tracy developed tendinitis in his knee that would keep him out of the line up for an extended period of time. He would also suffer rib injuries and undergo micro-fracture surgery.
During the off-season after micro-fracture surgery he developed an infection in the leg that set him back in his rehabilitation. While facing all of this adversity, Tracy watched Mark Reynolds burst onto the scene and become an alternative taking away Tracy’s starting spot.
Tracy development digressed especially against left-handed pitching. The result was less playing time further frustrating the situation. During the later half of last season it became obvious Tracy’s time with the Arizona Diamondbacks was reaching an end.
Arizona cut ties with Tracy making him a free agent. Like many others in free agency this off-season, Tracy found teams being judicious bringing on veteran players. For much of the off-season it began to look as if Tracy’s playing career might be over.
With Spring Training only three weeks away, Tracy was finally able to find a job when the Chicago Cubs signed him to a one year minor league contract.
The terms of the contract will pay Tracy $900,000 if he is able to make the Major League roster at the end of Spring Training. He will receive an additional $525,000 if he can accumulate 450 plate appearances and another $100,000 if he wins the NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
For a minimal cash outlay the Cubs have strengthened their bench and could find themselves reaping the rewards from a player who is out to show that he has overcome injuries and still has the talent to play this game.
Tracy will provide a veteran presence off the bench and is able to play either first base or third base although the Cubs would take a fairly major hit defensively if Tracy becomes their everyday infielder.
Despite the struggles Tracy has had the past few years he is still a professional and should make the Chicago Cubs a stronger team. Let’s just hope he doesn’t come back to haunt the Arizona Diamondbacks for letting him go.