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Cubs send Rondon into free agency

Club tenders contracts to its 6 other arbitration-eligibles
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

After five years, 77 saves and 296 appearances out of the bullpen, Hector Rondon's tenure with the Cubs appears to have come to a close.

The Cubs chose not to tender a contract to Rondon on Friday, opting to let the right-hander go to free agency rather than see his salary potentially increase north of $6 million through the arbitration process. The club did tender contracts to its six other arbitration-eligible players: Kris Bryant, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Tommy La Stella, Addison Russell and Justin Wilson.

After five years, 77 saves and 296 appearances out of the bullpen, Hector Rondon's tenure with the Cubs appears to have come to a close.

The Cubs chose not to tender a contract to Rondon on Friday, opting to let the right-hander go to free agency rather than see his salary potentially increase north of $6 million through the arbitration process. The club did tender contracts to its six other arbitration-eligible players: Kris Bryant, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Tommy La Stella, Addison Russell and Justin Wilson.

Those players are now considered signed for next season and an arbitration hearing will be scheduled for February or March. If the players and club cannot reach salary agreements before the hearing, an independent panel will decide the players' 2018 salary.

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The Cubs also non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, making him a free agent, and they granted right-hander Matt Carasiti his release so he could sign with a club in Japan. The Cubs had just added Carasiti to the 40-man roster last month.

With Friday's moves, Chicago's 40-man roster stood at 34.

Video: CHC@ATL: Rondon strikes out Rodriguez, side in 9th

The most notable departure was that of Rondon. The former Cubs closer was in his final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $5.8 million last season. He posted a 4.24 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, his most inflated marks since he was a Rule 5 Draft pick in December 2012.

The decision to non-tender Rondon continued the trend of turnover in the Cubs' bullpen, beginning with closer Wade Davis becoming a free agent at the start of the offseason. Chicago did make one potential 'pen addition earlier Friday by announcing a one-year Major League deal for left-hander Dario Alvarez.

While their relief search continues, Cubs officials will continue working toward agreements with their players remaining in arbitration.

As first-time eligibles, Bryant ($1.05 million salary in 2017), Hendricks ($761,000) and Russell ($644,000) can count on seeing the most dramatic pay raises. Bryant and Russell have Super 2 status, meaning they will have four years in arbitration instead of the usual three.

La Stella is also eligible for arbitration for the first time, Grimm for the second time and Wilson for the last time. Wilson is poised to hit free agency following the 2018 season.

Of those players, Grimm was most on the bubble. He has been unable to replicate his stellar 2015 season in the two years since, and is coming off a 5.53 ERA and 12 home runs in 55 1/3 innings while earning $1.825 million. Because of the nature of the arbitration process, that salary is likely to rise for 2018.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Hector Rondon