Brewers Claim Casey McGehee off Waivers
The Milwaukee Brewers claimed 3B-1B-C Casey McGehee off Outright Waivers, and RHP Billy Petrick was sent outright to the minors, as the Cubs trimmed their Reserve List (AKA "40-man roster") to 37 yesterday.
The Cubs selected McGehee out of Fresno State in the 10th round of the 2003 Rule 4 draft, and while he has played mainly 3B in his pro career, he also can play 1B and catcher. As a catcher, he has a strong, accurate arm, but his receiving skills need work.
McGehee was rewarded with an NRI to Spring Training with the big club last February, and was added to the Cubs 40-man roster and was brought up to Chicago from AAA Iowa last month (getting the nod over Jason Dubois) when Manager Lou Piniella was looking for another right-handed bat for the stretch drive. Before being summoned to Chicago, McGehee had a fine '08 season at Iowa, where he hit 296/345/429, with 30 doubles, 12 HR, and 93 RBI.
The 26-year old McGehee is presently playing winter ball for Culiacan in the Mexican Pacific League (he's spent his last three winters there). where he is hitting .326.
McGehee has three minor league options available and is three years away from salary arbitration, so he would naturally be attractive to a small market club looking for a cheap, versatile player for the nominal cost of a $20,000 waiver claim.
It's not exactly clear why the Cubs felt the need to place McGehee (or Petrick) on Outright Waivers at this time, because the Cubs already had one opening on their 40-man roster (LHP Carmen Pignatiello was outrighted to the minors earlier ths month), and six additional slots on the 40 will open up once the eight players eligible to be free-agents under Article XX of the CBA file for FA during the Free-Agency Filing Period that commences today (two of the players eligible to be MLB Article XX free-agents are still on the 60-day DL, so they will not create openings on the 40 when they file, but the other six will).
Because McGehee was brought up to the big leagues after August 15th, the Cubs had until four days after the conclusion of the World Series to make the outright assignment, or else they would have had to wait until 25 days prior to the start of the 2009 regular season to do it. But the Cubs really didn't have to outright McGehee in order to remove him from the 40 and keep him in the organization for 2009.
They could have waited until December 12th to drop McGehee from the 40-man roster, simply by non-tendering him and then re-signing him to a 2009 minor league contract (with an NRI to Spring Training) for the MLB split contract minor league minimum ($65,000), the same salary he would have received if he was on optional assignment to the minors. Of course McGehee could have refused the offer, but it was probably the best way to try and keep him in the organization for 2009 if they felt they needed his slot on the 40 for somebody else.
The two players who were succesfully outrighted off the Cubs 40-man roster this month (Pignatiello and Petrick) are both eligible to be six-year minor league free-agents, so it really wouldn't have mattered much if either of them had been lost off the waiver wire.