Cubs Minor Leaguers Choose Freedom

15 Cubs minor leaguers were eligible to be Rule 55 minor league free-agents post-2010, and nine ended up choosing to leave.



The other seven have opted to re-up with the Cubs and sign minor league successor contracts for 2011, although it's possible one will retire, while others could get released prior to the start of the 2011 season.


In addition to the 15 players eligible to be Rule 55 minor league free-agents post-2010, three other Cubs (RHP Angel Guzman, RHP Mike Parisi, and IF-OF Bobby Scales) are Article XX-D minor league free-agents, although it has been reported that the Cubs have re-signed Guzman (who is still rehabbing from April 2010 shoulder surgery) to a 2011 minor league contract and a Non-Roster Invitation (NRI) to Spring Training.    


RULE 55 FREE-AGENTS (11-7-2010):
Mitch Atkins, RHP
Russ Canzler, 1B
Jason Dubois, OF
Jeff Gray, RHP
Mark Johnson, C
Bryan Lahair, 1B
Scott McClain, 3B
Mario Mercedes, C
Mark Reed, C


The Cubs 7th round draft pick out of a North Carolina HS in 2004, the 25-year old Atkins has had his ups & downs over the years, going 13-4 with a 2.41 ERA and 1.18 WHIP at Peoria in 2006 and a combined 17-7 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP combined at AA Tennessse and AAA Iowa in 2008 (when he was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year), but also went 8-12 with a 6.58 ERA and 1.48 WHIP at Iowa in 2009. He bounced-back and had a decent (not great) year at Iowa in 2010, but he was unable to crack the Cubs roster except for a few brief call-ups over the past two seasons. I would expect Atkins to sign with the Orioles (he was a John Stockstill draft pick).


The 24-year old Canzler was selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 draft out of a Pennsylvania HS, and moved slowly through the Cubs system over the past seven seasons. He spent two seasons with the AZL Cubs (2004-05) and EXST Cubs (2005-06) before finally getting moved up to Boise in June 2006, and then was promoted to Peoria in 2007 and to Daytona in 2008, and then back to Daytona to start the 2009 season, before getting a mid-season promotion to AA Tennessee. He was assigned to Tennessee again in 2010, where he hit a career-best 287/372/566. A natural 1B, Canzler has played 3B and corner OF over the past couple of years to increase his versatility, but he has never had a chance to play AAA ball. I would expect him to sign a minor leagtue deal with an organization that will give him a chance to play at the AAA level in 2011 (probably with an organization that has a AAA affiliate in the International League, so that he can play closer to home), possibly with the Phillies, or maybe with the Orioles (Canzler was another Stockstill draft pick).        


The 31-year old Dubois leads the Venezuelan Winter League in HR after clubbing 20 HR in 72 games (1.017 OPS) for Iowa in 2010. He will be looking for a deal that will give him an NRI to Spring Training and more playing time at AAA in 2011, and he was not going to get that from the Cubs.


Gray was acquired by the Cubs from the Oakland A's last December in the deal that sent IF-OF Jake Fox and INF Aaron Miles to Oakland, and Gray, RHP Ronny Morla, and 1B-OF Matt Spencer to the Cubs. Gray suffered a groin strain at Fitch Park last February and never really was able to get into a groove. He struggled with the Cubs, and at AAA Iowa, and then was outrighted last month.   


35-year old veteran MLB catcher Mark Johnson has been signed to a Minor League Uniform Player Contract for the past two seasons while serving as a player-coach at AAA Iowa, spending most of the two seasons on the DL with a "sore neck" or a "sprained ankle," but always being able to get himself just healthy enough to be activated whenever a body was needed short-term on the I-Cubs 24-man roster. He was an instructor with the Cubs AZ Instructional League team post-2010, and he even was the Instructs Game Manager the last week, so it's possible that he will take a position as a manager, coach, or instructor in the Cubs organization.


Lahair was signed by the Cubs last off-season as a Rule 55 minor league FA after the lefty slugger had spent seven seasons in the Seattle Mariners organization. The 27-year old Lahair has hit 85 HR over the past five seasons at AAA (including 25 in 125 games at Iowa in 2010), but he struggles against AAA LHP.   


The protypical "4-A" player, the 38-year old McClain has hit 292 HR in his minor league career, plus another 71 in Japan 2001-04. But he has never has been able to crack an MLB roster except for an occasional "cup of coffee" (September call-up) over the years. The veteran slugger spent the entire 2010 season on the Iowa DL while re-habbing from off-season knee surgery, but he never got himself into playing shape, and ended up working as a coach at Fitch Park.


The 24-year old Mercedes probably would have been one of the catchers at Daytona in 2011 if he had opted to return, but he apparently believes he can get more of a chance to advance to AA if he goes to an organization where he won't be blocked at the upper levels by Welington Castillo, Robinson Chirinos, Chris Robinson, Steve Clevenger. Michael Brenly, and Luis Flores.


The Cubs had high hopes for Mark Reed when they selected him in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft out of a California HS, but he never hit enough to get out of "A" ball for any extended period of time. The younger brother of long-time MLB OF Jeremy Reed, Mark is a solid receiver with a decent arm, but like Mercedes, he's blocked at AA and AAA by several catchers who are ahead of him on the depth chart. He will be looking to sign someplace where he will have a chance to play at least in AA in 2011.


RE-SIGNED WITH CUBS FOR 2011:
James Adduci, OF
Adrian Aviles, OF-LHP
Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHP
Antoni Lugo, 3B
J. R. Mathes, LHP
Alvaro Ramirez, OF


Adduci, Bibens-Dirkx, and Mathes almost certainly received an NRI to Spring Training and probably at least 1st year 40-man roster money ($32K+) to re-up, while the 24-year old Ramirez probably believes he has a chance to make the Daytona Cubs Opening Day roster after hitting 322/350/420 combined at Boise and Peoria in 2010.


Released by the Seattle Mariners at the end of Spring Training 2009 and then acquired by the Cubs later that season from an independent team, Bibens-Dirkx had a very good year at Peoria in 2009 (7-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 0.91 WHIP) and then again at Tennessee and Iowa in 2010 (combined 10-7 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.17 WHIP), and he is pitching well in the Venezuelan Winter League post-2010 (8th in ERA and 10th in WHIP), too. Because he signed a minor league contract, he will be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft, and I would say he is a good candidate to get picked.


Adduci was outrighted to AAA last month, and with Ty Wright, Tony Campana, and Brandon Guyer the probable starting outfield at Iowa in 2010, Adduci projects as the I-Cubs 4th OF in 2011.


Mathes has spent the past four seasons as a rotation starter at Iowa, and while he has received an NRI to Spring Training in each of the past three seasons, he has not been given an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues with the Cubs. It's possible that he has a clause in his contract allowing him to be a free-aqent if he does not make the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster, or maybe he just likes to spend his summers in Des Moines.


The 22-year old Lugo was one of the top power hitters in the DSL in 2010 (294/382/472 in 58 games, and 3rd in the DSL in HR) in his first season with the Cubs after getting released by the White Sox, and he probably will get an invitation to Fitch Park (Minor League Camp and/or Extended Spring Training) next year after spending four seasons in the DSL (three with the Sox and one with the Cubs).


A 21-year old Venezuelan, Aviles was an outfielder in the Dodgers organization (DSL Dodgers) for four seasons before getting released, and then the Cubs signed him prior to the start of the 2010 season and converted him to a LHP at their Dominican Academy. Although he was on the DSL Cubs #1 roster for the entire 2010 season, he didn't pitch in any DSL games.


 

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Comments

Phil, awesome as always.

While I appreciate the info on who stayed, could you comment on what we lost?

I'm not the smartest guy on the farm system, but some of those names (Atkins, Gray, LaHair, McClain) probably even casual fans will recognize.

Also, you mention AB-D getting picked in the rule 5, if he's done well would/should they put him on the 40-man to protect?

THANKS!!!

*edit After quick glances, Canzler's OPS leaped last year, and LaHair's #s didn't look terrible, LH bat, plays 1B. Just throwing things against the wall...

Submitted by Tony S. on Wed, 11/10/2010 - 11:40am.
Phil, awesome as always.

While I appreciate the info on who stayed, could you comment on what we lost?

I'm not the smartest guy on the farm system, but some of those names (Atkins, Gray, LaHair, McClain) probably even casual fans will recognize.

Also, you mention AB-D getting picked in the rule 5, if he's done well would/should they put him on the 40-man to protect?

THANKS!!!

*edit After quick glances, Canzler's OPS leaped last year, and LaHair's #s didn't look terrible, LH bat, plays 1B. Just throwing things against the wall

====================================

TONY: I have added some info about the eight who left.

As for whether the Cubs will add Austin Bibens-Dirkx to the 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline, they could, but I just don't think there will be room for him.

There are presently three openings on the Cubs 40-man roster, and John Gaub and Brian Schlitter (and possibly Jeff Stevens) could still get outrighted to open up another couple of slots, but Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Marquez Smith, and Alberto Cabrera are ahead of Bibens-Dirkx on the list of guys most-likely to be added to the 40-man roster before the deadline, and Hendry is also going to want to have one or two slots kept open for free-agents.

As for Bryan Lahair, while he murders RHP, he is just dead meat against AAA LHP. So he would project as (at best) a platoon LH 1B and LHPH at the big league level, and for that to happen he will have to be in the right place at the right time, and he didn't get that opportunity with the Cubs.

It took Canzler seven seasons to establish himself at AA, and while he might have had a chance to play 1B at Iowa in 2011, he would have had to beat-out Matt Spencer for the job, and that was not a given. Canzler should be able to get an NRI and a shot to play AAA ball in the International League (closer to his Pennsylvania home) with somebody in 2011. The Orioles, Phillies, and Nationals are probably the three most-likely destinations for Canzler in 2011.

Phil,

Do you think there is more than one guy on the 40 man that may go in a trade for Adrian Gonzalez? If the Cubs do trade for him, I'm expecting that two of three of their positional prospects (Lee, Jackson and Vitters) wind up being part of the deal, with maybe Cahsner and an A ball arm. That would be a net 0 on the 40 man, right?

given how piss-poor SD hit vs. their pitching they'd probably want something immediate to plug into their lineup even if they used the saved money to buy another 1st baseman.

they're also down a SP that helped them last year, too.

Submitted by crunch on Wed, 11/10/2010 - 12:48pm.
given how piss-poor SD hit vs. their pitching they'd probably want something immediate to plug into their lineup even if they used the saved money to buy another 1st baseman.

they're also down a SP that helped them last year, too.

====================================

CRUNCH: Andrew Cashner will be a starting pitcher if he gets traded to SD.

Submitted by The Real Neal on Wed, 11/10/2010 - 12:45pm.
Phil,

Do you think there is more than one guy on the 40 man that may go in a trade for Adrian Gonzalez? If the Cubs do trade for him, I'm expecting that two of three of their positional prospects (Lee, Jackson and Vitters) wind up being part of the deal, with maybe Cahsner and an A ball arm. That would be a net 0 on the 40 man, right?

=======================================

REAL NEAL: I think if the Cubs acquire Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres will get Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner, and either Chris Archer, Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt, Josh Vitters, or Hak-Ju Lee (Padres choice).

From the Cubs POV, they would be getting Gonzalez for a well below-market 2011 salary ($5.5M), and then even if they can't sign him to an extension and he signs elsewhere post-2011, the Cubs can (if they wish) offer arbitration and at least get two high draft picks that they can use to try and replace two of the players they trade.

Speaking of high draft picks, the Cubs should have selected 3B Zach Cox (U. of Arkansas) with their #1 pick in last June's draft. I know he got $3M+ from the Cardinals and a major league contract (and a spot on the STL 40-man roster), but I like what I have seen of him in the AFL so far. Cox was rated the #1 college hitter coming into the draft, he's a left-handed hitter who plays 3B, and he could eventually be moved to 1B. Hayden Simpson better be REALLY good.

in a world where money doesn't run things zach cox would have been an easy top-10 (or top-5) pick.

given how mature and "into the game" he is...even with questions about how mobile he really is in the IF and his pay demands...it was kinda weird he slipped so far in the 1st round. he was a guy you could invest in and at the very least he would most likely not act like a jackass.

Yes do that trade for Gonzalez.

I'd do it if we get Gonzalez signed to a friendlyish extension.

Technically wasn't Harper a "college" hitter?

I am interested to see what Simpson does as well. I have to admit at this point Wilkens has done pretty well with his "why are you drafting that guy there?!?" picks. The worst has been Vitters, and most people had him as a top 5 or 6 pick on based on talent alone.

technically harper was a college hitter, but you're going to get no respect playing the junior college circuit. many high-end players go/went the junior college route, mostly to boost their value and get out quickly into the draft.

"According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are "kicking around the idea" of trading Kosuke Fukudome to the Red Sox for Daisuke Matsuzaka as part of a multi-player deal."

lol wut?

silva and matsuzaka...awesome.

http://twitter.com/ChiTribRogers/status/24259...

Silva would HAVE to head back to Boston in that deal. It would almost certainly be a pair some money this year and add some back in 2012 type of deal.

boston isn't taking silva back...

Not sure how I see how this would be attractive to BoSox, unless ARam involved somehow...

Kfuk's contract is over after 2011. DiceK's runs through 2012.

So it looks like an NBA type of "Expiring contract" deal.

Fukudome and Silva are owed 17.5 Million next year. Dice K is owed 20 million (10 annually). So it would be awesome if it could be a straight swap.

It's even closer than that: $21.5 million vs. $20 milliion.

According to Cot's, Fukodome gets $13.5 million in 2011, while Silva gets $11.5 million (Mariners pick up $5.5 million). Silva also has a $12 million mutual option for 2012 (certain to be declined) with a $2 million buyout.

So it's $19.5 million for Fukodome/Silva in 2011, with another $2 million for Silva in 2012.

before it gets complex (and since it's mostly speculative right now) there's been no mention of silva or anyone else.

the rumor is too broad in scope to start narrowing the logistics, imo.

No real big losses. The only one I was mildly hoping for was Russ Canzler, as his year in AA made me quite curious if he could perhaps become a righty bench bat who backs up at 1st/3rd/corner OF. That said, his history would lead one to question whether or not that was simply a fluke year, and as noted, a guy like Matt Spencer is still on the roster (assuming he doesn't get plucked in Rule 5 ... I doubt it, but he is available). With Marquez and Brandon likely on Iowa, theres righty power there to go with a lefty power guy like Matt Spencer.

fwiw, Dice-k would still be under Cubs control if option was declined.

also, cubs would need a 15-man bullpen.

for a change of scenery type deal, why not? also, phil rogers wrote it so it's not happening.

Speaking of guys who require bullpen help - I could see Boston interested in Gorzellany and his 8/9 K rate of the last couple years.

Pujols 1B; Phillips 2B; Rolen 3B; Tulo SS; Carlos Gonzalez OF; Victorino OF; Bourn OF; Arroyo P

those guys all seem like good defenders, although not sure how good Rolen still is with his back issues.

Snyder outrighted, cleared waivers and is a FA. 40-man at 36 according to Muskrat love.

http://twitter.com/CarrieMuskat/status/247893...

managed to K 12 times in 28 PA's last year, 9 times in 20 vs. righties.

at least he finally made it to the bigs...cleveland's 1st baseman of the future just never showed the power he was supposed to...and all the other stuff he wasn't too good at.

That didn't take long ;)

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