As we reported via twitter Monday, the Cubs don't intend to offer arbitration to any of their three significant free agents (Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg and Reed Johnson) at today's deadline, which means no draft-pick compensation for the team if those players sign elsewhere.
But that doesn't mean they don't intend to keep talking to Johnson about a possible return.
Declining to offer arbitration to Johnson was the only move that made sense in his case because he made $3 million last year and is not a $3 million player anymore as a fourth outfielder coming off three straight years of injuries (84-game average in that span).
An arbitration offer would have given him unnecessary leverage to stay in Chicago for another year at an inflated cost.
If Johnson's market value proves to be about where the Cubs think it is (modest one-year, incentive-filled contract, if he's even offered a guaranteed deal), then Johnson -- who has made it clear he doesn't want to leave -- can check out his value for himself on the open market and possibly wind up back on the North Side with a good payroll-fit contract that seems fair to both sides.