Cubs Invite 18 Minor Leaguers to Big League Camp

The Cubs announced today that 18 minor leaguers have been invited to Big League Camp, including ten pitchers, two catchers, three infielders, and three outfielders. 

CUBS SPRING TRAINING NON-ROSTER INVITEES (1-29-2016)

* bats or throws left 
# bats both  

PITCHERS: 10 
* Luis Cruz
Stephen Fife
Brandon Gomes
* Jack Leathersich
Jean Machi
Felix Pena
Jonathan Pettibone
Armando Rivero
Drew Rucinski
Duane Underwood Jr
NOTES: Cruz, Fife, Pena, Pettibone, and Rucinski project as starting pitchers and will likely eventually compete for SP jobs with AAA Iowa... Underwood is the Cubs #1 pitching prospect and projects as a SP at AA Tennessee... Underwood was the Cubs 2nd round pck in 2012, and he will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2016, so he will likely be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by 11/20 (if not sooner)... Gomes, Machi, and Rivero will provide bullpen depth at Iowa if they don't make the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster... Gomes and Machi have extensive MLB experience (Gomes with TB and Machi with SF and BOS), and Rivero was a closer for Industriales in Serie Nacional in Cuba before signing with the Cubs ($3M bonus) in 2013... Rivero will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft post-2016, so he could get called up anytime... Fife pitched in the big leagues with LAD in 2012-14 (he was a Red Sox draftee when Theo, Jed, and McLeod were in Boston), and Pettibone was a starting pitcher for the Phillies in 2013.... Both are attempting to come back from arm injuries (Fife had TJS in 2014 to repair a torn elbow ligament and Pettibone had two surgeries--one in 2014 and another in 2015--to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder)... Fife made a comeback as a SP in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional (the Venezuelan Winter League) post-2015 and appears to be 100% going into the 2016 season, but Pettibone may not be ready at the start of the season... Rucinski pitched in the big leagues from time-to-time for the Angels over the past couple of seasons (he was their Dallas Beeler) and was a member of the Angels/Cubs Advanced Instructional League co-op team this past October, so the Cubs know him better than most NRI from other organizations... Leathersich underwent TJS in August 2015, and probably won't be ready to pitch until mid-season. He was claimed by the Cubs off waivers from the Mets in November, and then was non-tendered by the Cubs before signing a 2016 minor league contract with the Cubs last month,... By non-tendeing Leathersich on 12/2 and then waiting until after the Rule 5 Draft to re-sign him to a minor league contract, the Cubs were able to assign him to the minors without exposing him to waivers or to the Rule 5 Draft.    

CATCHERS: 2 :
Taylor Davis
Tim Federowicz
NOTES: Both Davis and Federowicz project as back-up catchers at AAA Iowa... Davis is a bat-first backstop with the versatlity to play C-1B-3B, while Federowicz (another former Red Sox draftee, who was traded to LAD in the same deal that sent Stephen Fife to the Dodgers in July 2011) is a defensive-first receiver with MLB experience, and he will likely take over the role filled by Taylor Teagarden in 2015.

INFIELDERS
Jesus Guzman(1B)
* Munenori Kawasaki (SS-2B-3B)
Kristopher Negron  (SS-2B-3B-1B-LF-CF-RF)
NOTES: Guzman, Kawasaki, and Negron have MLB expereince (Negron with CIN, Guzman with SF, SD, and HOU, as well as one season with the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, and Kawasaki with SEA and TOR after spending nine seasons with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan where he was an eight-time NPB All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, stolen base champion, and a member of Team Japan in the WBC in 2005 and 2009)... The trio will presumably provide infield depth/insurance at AAA Iowa... Also note that as a vested NPB player, Kawasaki has Article XX-B status, and thus he will automatically receive a $100K retention bonus and a June 1st opt-out if he either isn't released at least five days prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 25-man roster by Opening Day, so just for that reason he probably has a better chance of making the Cubs Opening Day MLB 25-man roster than any of the other NRI.

OUTFIELDERS: 3
Albert Almora Jr
John Andreoli
Juan Carlos Perez (CF-LF-RF-3B-2B)
NOTES: Both Andreoli and Perez have experience playing CF (and Perez has MLB expereince with SF), although Andreoli is a below-average defender in CF while Perez is a plus defender... Both will compete with Matt Szczur for the 5th OF job... Otherwise they will provide depth/insurance at AAA Iowa... Almora is one of the Cubs Top 5 prospects (he was the Cubs 1st round draft pick in 2012), is projected as the Cubs CF of the future, and will likely be the starting CF at Iowa in 2016... Like Underwood and Rivero, Almora is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2016... Almora is a Gold Glove quality CF, a contact-type hitter with occasional HR power at the plate, and is an excellent baserunner even though he has just average speed... He was named Athlete of the Year for Team USA in 2011 and has served as team captain while playing for several USA national teams over the past several years (most recently in the 2015 Pan American Games)... He has a tremendous make-up & leadership skills... Almora is a "high floor" player (meaning he is not likely to be a bust), and as far as projecting his "ceiling," I would comp him to somebody like Curt Flood...  

It is very possible that additional Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) will be invited prior to the start of Spring Training, including one or two additional catchers. (Minor league catchers Tyler Alamo and Cael Brockmeyer were invited just prior to the date that pitchers & catchers were scheduled to report last year, and both remained at Big League Camp for about three weeks, even though neither was officially listed as an NRI).

There also were several players I expected to get an NRI who did not, including 2015 1st round draft pick 2B Ian Happ, top prospect SS Gleyber Torres, switch-hitting C-1B-3B Victor Caratini (Braves Top Ten prospect acquired in a deadline deal for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio in July 2014), 2015 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year RHSP Ryan Williams, and hot-shot Cuban OF prospect Eddy Julio Martinez, plus IF-OF Logan Watkins (missed 2015 season after rupturing his achilles tendon) and RHRP Starling Peralta (both signed minor league successor contracts post-2015), and several players with MLB experience who signed minor league contracts with the Cubs during the off-season, including ex-CLE LHRP Scott Barnes, ex-STL LHRP Nick Greenwood, and ex-PHI OF-1B-LHPH Kelly Dugan.

Comments

Glad to see Felix Pena in camp. He seems to have made huge strides last year. Hope he can be of help later in the season.

Almora = Curt Flood, holy cow! Well Cardinal fans will be real sad to hear a steady eddy 35 fWAR player could be 'manning' CF along with a StL who comps like Jim Edmunds now a turncoat in RF and a LH'd Manny Ramirez in LF. What a dream, hope Almora forces his way onto the big league club by June.

I strongly doubt it re Almora in Wrigley this summer. He's been young for his levels and a slow adjuster. I don't see him being any help offensively to this Cubs team in 2016. Best-case scenario for his 2016 IMO: he plays well at Iowa and gets coffee in September, forcing the Cubs to consider him as a part for 2017.

Granted that is the linear logic that is often applied from the outside. But two things. This club's FO has not acted in any linear way, they put their players up faster than somebodies else idea (esp the media's idea) and granted those are tests. The other quotient are injury/tactical reasons for moving a player into the THE SHOW, Bryant, Schwarber, Baez and Russell. Soler is the placed in exception. Baez failed like the FO wanted/expected and adjusted. My better guess is Soler gets hurt and the Cubs have to make an adjustment in mid season and bringing up Almora and see if he sticks, not so much full time but mostly. Will he need to go back and adjust or find the means to adjust like Russell in season?

it's not linear logic, it's just the most likely scenerio...in his opinion...and others.

out of all those guys mentioned, i think the only huge surprise was russell and that was based on keeping his service clock in check rather than need. thanks to injury in the majors and minors, the next best option was one of the cubs worst hitters with little upside to turn it around.

almora's been a bit of a disappointment in the minors (except in the field), unlike everyone else mentioned. also, the team has c.coghlan currently penciled in for the bench. as of now it's not a situation where everyone else has/is tearing up the minors (though he could be in 2016), the next-best-minors option is injured, or there's no solution on the bench worth mentioning.

still...yes, he could get called up even if everything is going smooth with what's in-house. plus, as far as the minor league pecking order goes he's near the top for consideration if everything isn't going smooth...even if he's going to start the season in AA.

also, russell didn't adjust to much except a slew of homers the last couple months...it was consistently meh with the bat. that said, his backup option was battling d.ross for the worst hitter on the team and that's a feat in itself. i'm pretty sure people are expecting more out of him in 2016 from his bat and it probably shouldn't be too hard given his talent and what he did in 2015 outside of the power department.

Russell certainly did adjust. His BA improved 33 points, is OBP 22 points, and is SLG 73 points from the first half to the second half, in basically the exact same number of games and at-bats. He also struck out about 25% less (83 to 66). 

For me, the biggest difference between the Cubs who promoted Russell last April and now is that this team expects to compete immediately. The window is now wide open.

Almora is going to be just 22 in April, and last year, he slashed 272/327/400 in his second try at AA. I am in agreement with everyone who argues that Almora has a "high floor" and that he will absolutely be an MLB player, but unless something clicks in spring training, he's going to start 2016 at Iowa.

Now, let's say Heyward goes down for an extended period of time. Is it in the best interests of a competing team to install Almora in CF? His defense will be great, but Steamer projects that Almora would slash 256/289/372 in MLB this year. That's quite below average. If Lester is the pitcher, you basically have three high-probability outs in the lineup.

The only thing supporting the argument to promote Almora in that circumstance is the lack of better options - Szczur and other defense-first bad hitters, or else someone like Baez or Coghlan or Zobrist who probably is going to be bad defensively out there. Still, the lack of better options does not make it a good choice.

Finally, just want to say I have absolutely no ethos that states these top prospects need to be treated linearly. I think the FO is going to do what it needs to do to help the kids succeed and to help the team win. I just have trouble predicting the scenario where it's in everyone's best interest for Almora to come up and play regularly this year. IF he's killing the ball in Iowa, and IF Heyward goes down for a long time, and IF the team hasn't acquired a legit backup CF by opening day, then it could happen. The Rockies could also win the NL West. Baseball is a weird game sometimes. More than likely these things all do not happen at once and Almora debuts in 9/2016 or sometime in 2017.

If he has a good season at AAA there is no reason to think he wouldn't be a September call-up. Extra defense during the home stretch is good.

Curt Flood had an .831 OPS (with 14 HRs) in his last minor-league season at age 19. This was at level A, which in 1957 was the equivalent of AAA today. I realize that AZ Phil used Flood as Almora's ceiling, but it's a very high ceiling, i.e., pie in the sky. As for Almora's floor, that's obvious: good-field, no-hit ML bust.

Almora was the new FO's first draft pick, and they should have asked for a mulligan. The fact that they acquired Russell later takes some of the sting out of that ill-fated #6 pick; but he was also chosen ahead of Giolito, Seager, Wacha, Piscotty and Stroman among other first-rounders.

I hope I'm wrong. I haven't seen Almora play. (I certainly think Almora has been available the last couple of seasons to other teams who HAVE seen him play, if they were interested.) Watching his highlight videos in the outfield, I've noticed that he has developed a clever way of going back on balls aggressively without banging into walls. I'd love to see a great fielder out in center, if that's what he is. (There's still a lot of hype, I feel, in discussions involving Almora and Vogelbach.)

Albert Almora Jr hit 329/376/466 (842 OPS) in his age 19 season.

Also, Class "A" was NOT the equivalent of AAA in 1957. In the case of the Cincinnati Reds system (where Curt Flood got his start prior to being traded to the Cardinals post-1957), Havana was the AAA affiliate, Nashville was the AA affiliate, and Savannah was the Class "A" affiliate (there was no "Hi-A vs Lo-A"  distinction back then).

As far as Curt Flood being a comp "ceiling" for Albert Almora Jr, I don't believe a career 293/342/389 slash line with an average of 8 HR, 4 3B, 25 2B, 8 SB (7 CS), and 41/56 BB/K in 641 PA per 162 MLB games (plus multiple Gold Gloves) is particularly high.

Curt Flood was a good player, but not great. He was an outastanding defensive CF, but he was essentially a complimentary player offensively on a three-time Cardinals pennant winner and two-time World Series winner 1964-68. 

AZ Phil: +1

If Curt Flood was on the 1969 Cubs...the entire timeline of the universe would be different. Don Young, pffft.

It helps to have Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton in your rotation. Gibson's stats are truly amazing, particularly given what today's starters do and how they get paid. For the 5 seasons 1968-72, he averaged 24 CG per year.

I think we are undervaluing Curt Flood a bit. Remember that he played in an offensively depressed era. He accumulated 42.1 WAR through his age 31 season, and then was essentially done with baseball because he fought for free agency. Some of his comps through age-31 include Pete Rose, Bill Buckner, Phil Cavarretta, Buddy Bell, Willie Davis, Harvey Kuenn. Not Hall of Famers, but clear second-tier guys. He's 8th all time in total zone runs as a CF (and again, that's only through age 31). Even assuming just 3-4 more average years his WAR would have ended up around 50, which is right with guys like Tori Hunter, Minnie Minoso, and Orlando Cepeda. Not Willie Mays, but better than just "good" in my book. By saying that Almora's ceiling is Flood, we are basically saying Alomora could be one of the top 40 center-fielders in baseball history. That's a pretty high ceiling. Would love it if he turned out that good.

Indeed. Flood hit over .300 for the 8-year period 1961-68 (with an OBP of about .350), won 7 straight gold gloves and was a 3-time All Star. If Almora comes anywhere close to that, I think we would all be very happy.

As long as he does it for the Cubs (cough) Lou Brock (/cough).

You're right about Savannah--I should have checked BR. When Lou Brock came up in the middle of the 1962 season, he was called up from St. Cloud, MN, which the newspapers referred to as "Class C." That happened to be the third team in the Cubs' minors. (I see now that the Cubs were missing an AAA and an A team in 1962.) I must have concluded that minor-league teams in those days were simply ranked A, B and C, and carried that belief around until today!

Great write-up, Mr. Arizona Phil!

I was also quite surprised by Williams since I thought he could be an internal bullpen depth option this year if Wood/Richard/Warren etc. gets called to the rotation at some point. Now that you mention Watkins, that's also quite surprising to me as well.

"Pirates sent RHP Yoervis Medina outright to Triple-A Indianapolis."

passed through waivers...neat.

There is a lot of Cubs being written about in Boston this weekend.
1) Sean McAdam- "Lookalikes: Red Sox, Cubs loaded with young talent"
http://www.csnne.com/boston-red-sox/chicago-cubs-a...

2) Nick Cafardo's Sunday Baseball notes has the Cubs as his lead story and a gi-normous photo of Maddon/Theo- "Rebuilt Cubs ready for the next step"
These articles are likely penned with Theo quotes from the "Foundation to be Named Later" fundraiser in Boston this week.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2016/01/30/rebu...

The Cubs have purchased the contract of RHP Tommy Nance (2013 NDFA - U. of Santa Clara) from the Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League). 

link 

link 

Why?

yanks no longer have to worry about their g.bird playing time problem...injured shoulder, torn, expected to miss almost all of 2016.

"Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com hears that it's "highly unlikely" the Cubs re-sign Dexter Fowler.

Bruce Levine of Chicago's 670 The Score reported last week that the two sides have remained in contact, but it doesn't sound like a reunion is in the cards unless Fowler's price tag really drops."

A 2-year deal makes so much sense for the Cubs. I assume Fowler's getting a better deal than that from someone like the White Sox or Angels. He earned it, and I wish him the best if he leaves the NL Central.

Without the trade of an outfielder, why does signing Fowler make sense?

Agreed! And if they trade Soler to make room for Dexter, they suddenly become very vulnerable to LH pitching -- Bryant would be the only RH impact bat.

Fowler rakes LHP, but if Soler, Schwarber, and Heyward are on the team where is he going to play?

I guess he would make a good platoon partner for Schwarber and/or a defensive replacement in the corners or center with Heyward shifting to right, but they already have in house solutions for those roles.

i'd rather have coghlan when it comes to a non-regular bench guy...not too sure fowler would want in on that. im actually a bit shocked cog's not been traded. he's got to have value to someone as a regular. then again, it's really nice to have a guy like him on the bench and available for DH when applicable.

fowler just seems so unnecessary. useful piece, but on this club as it stands, not so much.

Not too surprised that Coghlan hasn't been traded. I agree that it is likely he will be traded, but there is no rush to do so before the trade deadline.

yeah, more than happy to have him around...bench, corner OF rest/injury insurance, DH...very useful piece for a team trying to get to the postseason.

...and, given Maddon's lineup madness -- backup 2B.

he's not good anywhere...might as well get a chance to not play 2nd well, too.

"GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets plan to use a sixth starter throughout the year."

spot-starter use, i assume. coming 2037: the 7-man rotation.

also, the nats signed former cub defensive whiz SS brendon ryan to a minor league deal.

also also, "Phillies acquired RHP Yoervis Medina from the Pirates for LHP Jesse Biddle." lulz.

So assuming no NRI throws a wrench in Cubs roster and Cubs carry 13 pitchers, 12 hitters (Coghlan, Ross, +2 off bench), what are they willing to do about Szczur and Villanueva who both have 0 options? They can't send Baez or La Stella to Iowa for those 2. Because there's no way Szczur or especially Villanueva would clear waivers and make it to Iowa though??

baez will probably see a good amount of time in CF this spring if they don't go with a CF bench option.

right now there's a gold glove RF'r playing CF with no established backup if szcazuruzrucczur isn't on the bench.

Outfield defense seems to be this teams biggest vulnerability. I am very underwhelmed by the idea of Soler in CF.

Is anyone suggesting Soler in center?

I misread the comment somehow. Sigh.

Good I was getting scared.

Babbaa whaaattt?

A Japanese report that the Cubs have signed Matt Murton to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training as per Chicago Cubs Online.

As a fellow ginger, I approve of this signing.

He began with the Sawx, so it was probably inevitable.

Can they get the other player, of that trade for Harden, back?

I thought they got Murton in the Nomar Garciaparra trade. 4 team trade.

The Cubs got Garciaparra and minor league outfielder Matt Murton. Montreal acquired Gonzalez (Alex), pitcher Francis Beltran and
infielder Brendan Harris and the Twins got minor league pitcher Justin Jones.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1849988

They did, but traded him, Donaldson, EPat and Gallagher for Harden.

Not sure why jacos wants EPat back.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3478902

I have a Corey Patterson shirsey, and damn it, I want to wear it again.

Let it go Jacos...let it go.

I vaguely remember thinking Donaldson would be the biggest loss, but in my memories I'm always pretty smart about the things that will happen later down the road.

It's likely I was more vocally lamenting the loss of Gallagher.

I do remember lamenting Gallagher at the time, he had a few good outings if I remember correctly.

Arrieta arbitration set for Feb 9th, next Tuesday

should be interesting given the 5.5m gap (7.5/13)...

part of me is still expecting a 3 year deal to break out before it goes to arbitration...3/55 - 3/60...something like that. pure speculation, heard nothing about a long-term deal...

CRUNCH: I could see something like 7/$190M ($10M-$25M-$25M-$30M-$30M-$35M-$35M 2016-22, with $30M from 2019-22 deferred @$6M per year for five years), and with a player opt-out after three seasons (post-2018) that would essentially buy-out two years of arbitration and one year of free-agency and turn it into a 3/$60M ($10M-$25M-$25M), but Arrieta would be leaving 4/$130M ($32.5M AAV) on the table 2019-22 if he exercises the opt-out post-2018.

With all respect to Jake Arrieta, he's a Boras client. If the Cubs can buy out a free agent year or two, great, but doubtful. If there's no discount, there's no reason to sign him before he's a free agent - no discount, so avoid the injury risk. If Arrieta is still one of the best pitchers after 2017, sign him then.

I have to think they'll settle on 2016 because of the enormous gap, but who knows how the sides are playing it at this point.

JOHN B: Typically, Scott Boras advises his clients not to sign contract extensions that buy-out free-agency years, especially if we are talkmg about (in the case of Arrieta) the opportunity to hit free-agency in time for his age 32 season (2018) versus his age 33 season (2019). 

The only way I could see the Cubs getting Arrieta post-2017 (even just for one extra year) is the type of contract he would probably get if he was a FA right now, with a player opt-out after three seasons (like Justin Heyward got). Even then I don't know if Boras would advise Arrieta to accept such a deal, because of his age. 

Personally, I think it would be best (wise) for the Cubs to keep Arrieta through 2017 (his age 31 season) and (if necessary) go to arbitration again post-2016, and then be prepared to accept the fact that he very possibly won't be back with the Cubs in 2018. 

If this happens and if the Cubs don't want to lose traction in their Window of Opportunity (2016-21), the Cubs will need to somehow replace Arrieta and what he brings to the table in 2018. Also, Hammel is gone after 2016 (or post-2017 if the Cubs exercise their club option for 2017) and Lackey is done after 2017, so the Cubs will need to find a couple of high-quality starting pitchers (either developed by the Cubs, acquired in a trade, or signed as a FA) no later than 2018. 

I'm not saying the Cubs can't do that, but finding another Jake Arrieta (in other words, a starting pitcher who can stand toe-to-toe with any other starting pitcher in baseball) won't be easy. 

Jake Arrieta is special (lately) and will be very hard to replace without significant luck. That said, you don't break the bank on even a special 32-year-old pitcher, and (as you point out, Phil) the Cubs front office seems to know that.

Phil: I agree on the Boras negotiating tactic. That's why I prefer not committing $180M+ to Arrieta at this time. I figure there's a 20-30% chance he either blows out his elbow or suffers a precipitous decline in results during the next 2 years. So if you have to pay market rate to keep him, then let's pay market rate in 2 years if he's still worth that he's worth today. It's not like there's a whole lot Arrieta can do at this point to increase his value the next 2 years. People expect him to continue to be an ace.

So does Murton get a NRI to spring training?? No article I've read said that he does. I'm just assuming he does.

his contract included an invite to ST according to BCB...which may or may not be BS.

I'm still reeling from his previous exit. Not as badly as I hurt from losing Mike Olt, but nearly.

Haha. Good O&B. Good.

Are you still mourning the switch of Devin Hester to a wide-out too? Or Lovie's mistreatment of their should-have-been Head Coach Chico Rivera?

Trade Jake? Maybe.... Hypothetically speaking of course, the Cubs will obviously have Jake for 2016 and 2017, but say come trade deadline in 2017 and it looks like a similar situation like the Samardzija deal where he refuses to accept the Cubs long term offer, even though it is Jake and say he had a great 2016 and first half of 2017 do you trade him rather than let him walk after 2017 and get maybe a comp pick, maybe nothing since the CBA is up after 2016 and who knows what could change.
They could make it like the NHL where there's a hard cap and no one player can take up more than 20% of a teams payroll and there is no compensation for losing unrestricted free agents only restricted ones. No QO.
Would you trade Jake????????

Your question is if they should trade him at the trade deadline in 2017? Assuming they are in the race and he's still an ace, I cannot imagine they would consider it for anything at all. Assuming they are not in the race, go get the prospects, I guess. I don't think most Cubs fans can deal with the thought of missing the playoffs in 2017, but realistically we should assume that at best the Cubs will make the playoffs 8 of the next 10 years.

I agree about not believing the Cubs won't be in the playoff race in 2017, but I also believe that Cubs fans did not believe that 108 years later the Cubs would still have only 2 rings.

$10.7M for Jake.

neat. 450K above the mid-point.

largest 1-year contract for a guy with 4 years of service.

Seems right. Seems reasonable.

The Cubs have released OF Kevin Brown (2013 22nd round draft pick - Bryant U.), OF Kevin Encarnacion (2010 IFA - Venezuela), INF Carlos Jimenez (2014 IFA - Dominican Republic), and LHP Carlos Rodriguez (2011 IFA - Venezuela).  

Encarnacion was seriously injured (shoulder injury & third-degree burns) in a car crash in the Dominican Republic post-2013, and missed the entire 2014 season. When he finally did return (at Instructs post-2014), he was unable to switch-hit (he could only hit LH), and he was not the same hyper-aggressive player on the bases and in the field he had been before the injury. Encarnacion was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2016, so the Cubs cut the cord a few months early.  

AZ Phil: I know what I'm about to ask is probably not permitted in MLB-PA agreement, so I'll ask it in the context that you know specifically why this loophole to circumvent the QO-Comp pick can't be done. If it were permitted, I'm sure the QO-Compensation pick dilemma would have been worked around many times before we've gotten to this seasons final 3 players.

The 3 remaining players this year, still tied to a compensation pick: Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Desmond.

Why couldn't a team (say the Cubs) make a deal with another team (say the White Sox or Rangers), such that the Cubs sign free agent that declined a QO (say Dexter Fowler). Then the Cubs trade Fowler to the Rangers/Sox for compensation somewhat less valuable than the 1-2 round compensation pick that the Rangers would be on the hook for. The signing team gets something just by brokering the transaction, the receiving team gets a player they might have signed if it weren't for the compensation pick and the player finds a home that otherwise is blocked by the tether of the compensation pick.

There must be some rule that forces the signing team to keep the player for a fixed period of time. Also, I believe the players caught in this situation lose the compensation pick tie if they hold out until after the June draft. I think this almost happened to Stephen Drew either last year or the year before.

Reminds me of the Cubs picking Josh Hamilton in the rule 5 draft, essentially as a favor to the Reds, when the Cubs had a higher pick to get Cincy the player they wanted (and the Cubs had no plans to pick in that round of the draft). That too seemed like a loophole and I don't think the Cubs got much out of doing the Reds that favor. Even when Hamilton was sent to Texas, he get them Edison Volquez in return. So Cincy took a risk but it wouldn't have happened without the loophole/transaction.

Newly signed free agents can't be traded until some time in June I think.

CUBSTER: Just as background: 

1. A compensation draft pick is awarded to a club for losing an Article XX-B MLB Free-Agent Qualified Player. The pick is slotted between the 1st and 2nd rounds of the next MLB Rule 4 Draft, with clubs selecting in inverse order of league standings from the previous season. (In the case of two clubs finishing with the same winning percentage the previous season, league standings from two seasons back will be used to break the tie. If the clubs are still tied, league standings from three seasons back, four seasons back, etc, will be used to break the tie). 

2. An MLB club that signs a Qualified Player forfeits its 1st round selection in the Rule 4 Draft, unless the club selects in the Top 10 of the 1st Round, in which case the club would forfeit its next-highest pick. NOTE: In determining whether a club would forfeit its 1st round draft pick, the ten "protected" picks at the top of the 1st round would NOT include any compensation draft pick received by a club for failing to sign a 1st round draft pick from a previous draft.

3. The next highest draft pick (or draft picks) will be forfeited if the club signs more than one Qualified Player (one draft pick forfeited for each Qualified Player signed). Draft picks subject to forfeiture include the club's own Rule 4 picks, compensatory draft picks awarded to the club after losing an Article XX-B Qualified Player, and draft picks that were awarded as the result of the Competitive Balance Lottery or as the result of the Rule 4 SBP Forfeited Draft Pick lottery (including any lottery draft pick originally awarded to another club and then subsequently acquired in a trade). A compensatory draft pick awarded to a club for failing to sign a pick from a previous Rule 4 Draft is NOT subject to forfeiture. NOTE: A Rule 4 Draft pick forfeited as the result of a club signing a Qualified Player is not transferred to any other club (it just disappears).

4. A Qualified Player who signs a Major League contract after 11:59 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series receives an automatic "no trade" right that extends through June 15th, even if the player re-signs with his former club. A Qualified Player who receives a "no trade" right this way can waive the right, but if he does, his club can trade the player only for player contracts and/or cash with a maximum aggregate value of $50,000.

5. If a Qualified Player signs a Major League contract after the MLB Rule 4 Draft, or if a Qualified Player signs a minor league contract and either remains in the minor leagues or is later added to the new club's MLB 40-man roster, the player's new club does NOT forfeit a Rule 4 Draft pick, and the player's former club does NOT receive Rule 4 Draft pick compensation. However, MLB clubs are not permitted to sign a Qualified Player to a minor league contract just to avoid losing a draft pick.

So... 

Dexter Fowler could wait to sign a Major League contract with another club until after next June's Rule 4 Draft, in which case there would be no draft pick lost by Fowler's new club or draft pick compensation for the Cubs. Other Article XX-B free-agents have done this before.  

Fowler cannot sign a 2016 minor league contract with another organization just to keep his new club from losing a draft pick and to keep the Cubs from being awarded a compensation pick, but he could sign a 2016 minor league contract with the Cubs and then be traded without his consent and without restriction to another club. However, Fowler would be waiving his Article XX-B "no trade" right by signing a minor league contract with the Cubs, and the Cubs would not be required to trade him. However, he would receive a $100,000 retention bonus and an automatic unilateral June 1st opt-out if he signs a minor league contract at least ten day prior to MLB Opening Day and is either not released by the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 40-man roster by Opening Day.   

If Fowler signs a 2016 minor league contract with the Cubs or re-signs with the Cubs (Major League contract) with the understanding that he will be traded to another club of his choice such that the Cubs would not receive a compensation pick between the 1st & 2nd round and such that the club to which Fowler is traded would not lose a draft pick, the Cubs would certainly have to get something of value back in the deal (even if it's just a mid-level minor league prospect). But even if Fowler and both clubs agree to the arrangement, the deal could possibly be construed by the MLNPA and/or the MLB Commissioner as collusion, because per the CBA, the compensation for losing a Qualified Player is supposed to a pre-determined compensatory pick between the 1st & 2nd round that is not in any way connected to the signing club's lost draft pick. In other words, there is supposed to be no direct relationship between the Qualified Player's old club and the player's new club as far as compensation is concerned. 

As for trading a Rule 5 Draft pick, there is no restriction in the CBA probably because the MLBPA doesn't care if a Rule 5 Draft pick is traded, as long as he remains on an MLB 40-man roster. 

However, a club is NOT permitted to make a waiver claim and then trade the player to another club if the purpose or effect of the claim was to prevent a third club with a waiver claim priority between the other two clubs from being awarded the waiver claim. 

 

One other thing about Dexter Fowler being a Qualified Player... 

As things stand right now, the Cubs will lose their 1st & 2nd round draft picks (provisionally #25 & #70) as the result of signing two Article XX-B FA Qualified Players (Jason Heyward and John Lackey). And If Fowler signs a Major League contract with another MLB club prior to next June's Rule 4 Draft, the Cubs will get a compensatory pick (provisionally #33) between the 1st & 2nd rounds... 

HOWEVER... 

The Cubs will then immediately lose that compensatory pick, but will get their 2nd round pick back, because the compensatory draft pick between the 1st & 2nd round is higher than the Cubs 2nd round pick. 

So the Cubs can't actually use the compensatory pick they get if Fowler signs eleswehere (the pick would be immediately forfeited), but at least they would get their 2nd round pick back. That's the best they can hope for. 

Thanks AZ Phil. That is exactly the detailed answer I was hoping for, fantastic.

Super Bowl is history. Welcome to the 2016 Baseball Season.

"Wait till THIS Year!"

i'm in NC, but since i don't care about football i found it very hard to root against the dude who's gotten me so much free pizza over the years. real talk...

It was cool to see Peyton go out in style. He is clearly one of the greatest QBs of our time. And who knows, maybe in 10-15 years or so, Cam will be breaking Peyton's record.

fowler stuff has me thinking...

has anyone besides sports media rumoring said anything about heyward playing CF?

we got another 3-ish weeks before spring training "matters"...

Unless they trade Soler

yeah, i just dont recall anyone who's not a sportswriter or rumor-mongerereereerer talking about heyward playing CF.

i was wondering if anyone, him/manager/theo/jed/obama, has said anything about him and CF.

since he's been signed i've pretty much assumed soler was good as gone, but the offseason is getting down to the wire.

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/12/15/cubs-theo-e...

“An impact defender,” Epstein said. “He gets great reads on the ball. Obviously, probably the best right fielder in the game that we feel can really play a solid-to-excellent center field as well.

thanks. that's a great start with 2 notices from heyward + theo.

I'd honestly be surprised if they traded Soler. Because of his injury risk and cold weather issues I think he'd be undervalued on the trade market in terms of what he could bring in vs his potential value to the team.

With him on the team the roster is actually in a pretty good spot right now to deal with potential injuries or cold weather struggles with Heyward sliding over and potentially Baez in CF. if he stays healthy he showed through several stretches a combination of power and strike zone command which would be valuable on a swing and miss team. Also if he can just somewhat better on routes his arm strength gives him the potential to be a dangerous right fielder.

I'm just doubtful anything we got back for him would give us that sort of ceiling. At the very least I think if a trade does happen it'll happen once they've had a chance to see how Heyward and Soler do during the season.

I'm still skeptical about Baez in CF. I love the idea of it, and I certainly think he has enough speed, the reflexes, and the aggressive mindset to be a good CFer, but I'll take it for granted only after I see him play the position effectively.

I don't entirely disagree though I think he's talented enough to handle it. But I imagine that's another thing they'll analyze before deciding on trades.

Knowing Madden though it won't be something we'll have to wait too long to see.

I read on BuzzFeed that Soler has been doing batting practice in Alaska. Little did he know that it is summer in Alaska this winter.

Oh, btw, don't google that BuzzFeed thing for verification. You won't find it.

I found it on BuzzKill

So long as he is in the best shape of his life I'm sure everything will be fine.

AZ PHIL - I am going to be in Phoenix from Thursday (Feb 11) through Monday (Feb 15). If I am able to break free and make it to the Cubs Facility, will there be anything to see? Would I need some sort of pass to be able to see anything? Is there a set time when those who are there early work out?
Thanks!

JACE: The early arrivals will be working out on the backfields located west of the main stadium. You don't need a pass if the gates are unlocked, but even if the gates are locked you can watch the workouts on Field #1 & Field #2 from outside the fence.

 I don't know how many players will be there this week, but the players are usually out on the fields from about 10 AM  to 1 PM during Spring Training. Since the workouts are somewhat informal prior to the official reporting date, the players who do arrive early can pretty much set their own schedules (based upon the availability of the coaches & instructors).     

 

Thanks, Phil! I think we (my son and I) will try this on Thursday...Cheers!

2016 CUBS SPRING TRAINING ROSTER;
  1 Gary Jones, COACH
  2 Tommy LaStella, INF
  3 David Ross, C
  4 Dave Martinez, COACH
  5 Juan Carlos Perez, OF
  6 Carl Edwards Jr, RHP
  7 Arismendy Alcantara, IF-OF
  8 Chris Coghlan, OF-IF
  9 Javy Baez, INF
10 RETIRED
11 John Mallee, COACH
12 Kyle Schwarber, C-OF
13 OPEN
14 RETIRED
15 Tim Federowicz, C
16 Brandon Hyde, COACH
17 Kris Bryant, INF
18 Ben Zobrist, IF-OF
19 Kristopher Negron, IF-OF
20 Matt Szczur, OF
21 OPEN
22 Jason Heyward, OF
23 RETIRED
24 OPEN
25 Chris Bosio, COACH
26 RETIRED
27 Addison Russell, INF
28 Kyle Hendricks, RHP
29 Jesus Guzman, 1B
30 OPEN
31 RETIRED
32 Dallas Beeler, RHP
33 Clayton Richard, LHP
34 Jon Lester, LHP
35 Lester Strode, COACH
36 OPEN
37 Travis Wood, LHP
38 Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
39 Jason Hammel, RHP
40 Spencer Patton, RHP
41 John Lackey, RHP
42 RETIRED
43 Adam Warren, RHP
44 Anthony Rizzo, 1B
45 Eric Jokisch, LHP
46 Pedro Strop, RHP
47 Miguel Montero, C
48 Brandon Gomes, RHP
49 Jake Arrieta,RHP
50 Rex Brothers, LHP
51 Jack Leathersich, LHP
52 Justin Grimm, RHP
53 Trevor Cahill, RHP
54 Neil Ramirez, RHP
55 Drew Rucinski, RHP
56 Hector Rondon, RHP
57 Stephen Fife, RHP
58 Mike Borzello, COACH 
59 Zac Rosscup, LHP
60 OPEN
61 Christian Villanueva, INF
62 Edgar Olmos, LHP
63 Jean Machi, RHP
64 Henry Blanco, COACH
65 Franklin Font, INSTRUCTOR  
66 Munenori Kawasaki, INF
67 Doug Dascenzo, INSTRUCTOR
68 Jorge Soler, OF
69 OPEN
70 Joe Maddon, MGR
71 Duane Underwood Jr, RHP
72 John Andreoli, OF
73 Luis Cruz, LHP
74 Dan Vogelbach, 1B
75 Jeimer Candelario, INF
76 Willson Contreras, C
77 Eric Hinske, COACH
78 Albert Almora Jr, OF
79 Andury Acevedo, RHP
80 Pierce Johnson, RHP
81 Armando Rivero, RHP
82 Taylor Davis, C
83 Felix Pena, RHP
84 Jose Flores, INSTRUCTOR
85 Desi Wilson, INSTRUCTOR
86 Mike Mason, INSTRUCTOR
87 OPEN
88 OPEN
89 Mark Johnson, INSTRUCTOR
90 Rod Nichols, INSTRUCTOR
91 Marty Pevey, INSTRUCTOR
92 OPEN
93 Brian Harper, INSTRUCTOR
94 Andy Haines, INSTRUCTOR
95 Chad Noble, BULLPEN CATCHER
96 Jim Brower, INSTRUCTOR
97 Tim Cossins, INSTRUCTOR
98 Terry Clark, INSTRUCTOR
99 OPEN

Has anyone been to the Great American Ballpark?
Have any advice or a hotel close to ballpark they have stayed at?

Rokfish

Hey, Rokfish --

I got no advice about visiting the GAB but it's good to see your name pop up here again!

The best hotels and bars are just across the river in Covington. Sit third base side of you can.

I stayed at the Marriott last time. Very nice.

I agree about staying in Covington. GAB is a great place to see a ball game. Whenever I visit GAB, unless I'm with my kids/wife, I always make a trip to O'Malley's Pub downtown Cincy.

RHRP Blake Cooper has retired. 

The 27-year old Cooper was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in August 2014  in exchange for 2009 Cubs 1st round draft pick OF Brett Jackson. Cooper spent the 2015 season at AAA Iowa, where he worked out of the bullpen as the I-Cubs primary set-up man.

Cooper was eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2016, but by retiiring he remains under control of the Cubs (and one season short of being eligible to be a 6YFA) if he changes his mind sometime in the future and returns to baseball.    

If anyone still does fantasy baseball, I have a team open in my 14-team 5x5 keeper league. We have a modest ante of $20. It's a pretty active group. 

watching philippines vs australia for 2017 WBC qualifier. clay rapada (remember him?) is pitching for the philippines (badly).

woo, WBC early pool madness! i can't wait to see pakistan play.

http://www.worldbaseballclassic.com/

I can't wait for the first, "Kyle Schwarber showed up in great shape," spring training report.

"He may look exactly the same, but, he's just so--firm."

Recent comments

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  • Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?

    Hagsag 2 hours 40 min ago view
  • It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.

    Still impressive.

    John Beasley 2 hours 42 min ago view
  • Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.

    He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.

    billybucks 9 hours 37 min ago view
  • Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.

    Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.

    billybucks 9 hours 41 min ago view
  • 101 wins...most since 1910 (104).

    neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.

    crunch 9 hours 57 min ago view
  • Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?

    billybucks 9 hours 59 min ago view
  • Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump

    jacos 10 hours 3 min ago view
  • Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.

    billybucks 10 hours 8 min ago view
  • j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.

    felix pena, your turn.

    crunch 10 hours 10 min ago view
  • it's been a while since joe's over-managed a game...it's gotta feel good for him to be back in the saddle making people's scorecards look like their pens blew up.

    crunch 10 hours 56 min ago view
  • Fuck a bench spot on the playoff roster, Coghlan is competing to bat cleanup.

    John Beasley 13 hours 12 min ago view
  • barely any...especially for an evening game. place looks 1/2 full at best to start the game.

    crunch 13 hours 34 min ago view
  • Listening on the radio. Are there any fans in the stands at all?

    Brick 13 hours 43 min ago view
  • "An MRI taken Monday on the right side of Jorge Soler showed no major damage."

    crunch 14 hours 44 min ago view
  • rare air though if he can keep it under 2. Sounds like Maddon already made up his mind though and Hendricks seems like the sort that would want to earn it. Guessing he gets a quick hook if he's still under 2 after 5 innings.

    Fwiw, he can give up 1 ER in 5 innings (or more) and still be under 2. If he gives up 2 ER, he would need throw 9 IP to keep it under 2. 1 ER in 4 IP would give him an ERA of exactly 2.

    In terms of WAR, it's still Scherzer by a lot (6.4), then Cueto (5.6), Lester (5.5), Kershaw (5.5), Roark (5.4), and then Hendricks (5.1)

    Rob G. 15 hours 58 min ago view
  • Boring lineup tonight in terms of guys trying to reach milestones -- no KB (40 HR), Addy (100 RBI) or JHey (can he keep it going?), and Lackey isn't really going for anything, plus the team has already reached 100 wins. I get the "rest" thing, although they will have 4 days off after Sunday, but....bleh.

    billybucks 16 hours 42 min ago view