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11:59 PM (Eastern) tonight is the deadline for an MLB club to acqure a player from another organization or sign a free-agent so that the player would be eligible for the club's post-season playoff roster. 

The player does NOT have to be added to the club's MLB Active List (25-man roster) prior to the 11:59 PM deadline to be playoff eligible, however. He just has to be under club control by the deadline.

Carlos Villanueva is the most-likely Cub to get traded today. He has pitched very well as a "swingman" over the past seven weeks (14 games), and he should have value to a contender because of his versatility (he can start or relieve). 

CARLOS VILLANUEVA LAST 14 GAMES
22.2 IP, 12 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 25 K, 2 HBP, 1 HR 
0.62 WHIP 
0.40 ERA
.156 Opp BA

Unless the Cubs sign him to a contract extension (not likely), Villanueva will be an Article XX-B MLB FA after the conclusion of the World Series, and the Cubs would end up with nothing. So I'm sure they would be very interested in finding a trade partner, even if all they get back in return is a "second-tier" prospect.      

There is an outside chance that some other Cub player could draw interest as well, but Villanueva would seem to be the best candidate.

The only stumbling block to any potential trade made this time of year is that Trade Assignment Waivers (see below) must be secured before a player on an MLB 40-man roster can be dealt. 


OTHER POTENTIAL TRADE CANDIDATES:

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) preliminary rosters have been announced, and the Cubs have assigned seven players to the Mesa Solar Sox (MSS). Present minor league assignment is in parenthesis: 

Zach Cates, RHRP (AA Tennessee)
Gerardo Concepcion, LHRP (A+ Daytona) 
C. J. Edwards, RHSP (AA Tennessee) 
Jake Hannemann, OF (A+ Daytona) - see NOTE
Ivan Pineyro, RHSP (AA Tennessee) 
Addison Russell, SS (AA Tennessee) 
Dan Vogelbach, 1B (A+ Daytona) 
NOTE: Hannemann is assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," so he is eligible to play in AFL games on Wednesday and Saturday only. 

In addition, Daytona pitching coach Ron Villone has been assigned to Mesa as the Solar Sox pitching coach. (The Cubs were required to supply the MSS pitching coach this year). 

Cates, Concepcion, Edwards, and Pineyro are Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2014, and so the Cubs may be using the AFL to get a better look at Cates, Concepcion, and Pineyro (especially Pineyro) before deciding whether to add any of them to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) post-2014. (C. J. Edwards is considered the Cubs #1 pitching prospect, so he is a "lock" to make the Cubs 40-man roster in November no matter how he performs in the AFL).

Russell played for the Mesa Solar Sox while a member of the Oakland A's last year, so this will be his second trip to the AFL, but in a different uniform. He will be sharing shortstop with A's SS prospect Daniel Robertson, who was Russell's rival in the Oakland system prior to Russell being traded to the Cubs in the Samardzija/Hammel trade. Russell missed considerable time this season as the result of a hamstring injury suffered prior to being acquired by the Cubs, so playing in the AFL will give the young shortstop some additional reps before he (presumably) gets moved up to AAA in 2015.

Both Edwards (shoulder) and Pineyro (forearm strain) were on the Tennessee Smokies Disabled List for lengthy periods of time this season, so pitching in the AFL will help them to make up for some of their "lost innings." 

Remember, the AFL rosters announced this week are preliminary rosters only and are incomplete.

In the case of the Mesa Solar Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays have not named any of their four pitchers yet, and because Dwight Smith Jr has been assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," the Blue Jays still need to assign another position player as well. The Oakland A's have yet to name their fourth pitcher, and because Jake Hannemann was assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," the Cubs need to assign one more position player to the Solar Sox roster. 

The 2014 Arizona Fall League schedule has been released and rosters should be announced later this month.

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is an MLB developmental league (approximately equivalent to "AA") that operates for six weeks after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. It features a 32-game "regular season" schedule plus an All-Star Game (formerly called the "Rising Stars Game," but now known as the "Fall Stars Game") at the end of the 4th week, and the AFL Championship Game (pitting the winner of the East Division versus the winner of the West Division) at the end of the 6th and final week. 

There are three games scheduled every day Monday through Saturday during the AFL regular season (there are no games on Sunday), beginning with Opening Day on the second Tuesday following the conclusion of the MLB regular season (which is October 7th in 2014) and extending up through the Thursday of the 6th week. (No regular season games are scheduled the day of the Fall Stars Game).  

The Cubs usually assign some of their better prospects to the AFL. Depending on what positions the Cubs are asked to fill on the Mesa squad, I would not be surprised to see some combination of position players and pitchers such as:

The Cubs reportedly will be recalling Matt Szczur (AKA "Scrabble") from AAA Iowa tomorrow (Sunday), and so the 25-year old outfielder should be making his MLB debut sometime soon after that.


 

The deadline for "non-waiver" (unrestricted) trades is 4 PM (Eastern) on July 31st. No trades can be made between 4 PM and 5 PM (Eastern) on July 31st, and then beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on July 31st and extending through to the conclusion of the MLB regular season, Trade Assignment Waivers must be secured before players on MLB 40-man rosters can be traded. (Waivers are never required to trade a player on a minor league reserve list).

The AZL Diamondbacks took advantage of four walks (including three bases-loaded walks that forced-in three runs) to plate seven runs in the 5th inning, and cruised to a 12-6 victory over the AZL Cubs Monday night at Cubs Park at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Gleyber Torres grounded out to end the game, but before that he reached base four consecutive times (single, walk, RBI single, and RBI triple) on the heels of last night's game at Salt River Fields when he reached base all six times he batted (two singles, two doubles, and two walks), for a total of ten consecutive Plate Appearances over the two games without being retired. 

2014 13th round draft pick Kevonte Mitchell (Kennett HS - Kennett, MO) continued his hot hitting, lacing three singles, while also stealing a base, scoring two runs, and collecting an RBI. He also made a fine running catch in CF. Torres, Mitchell, and Eloy Jimenez (who walked twice) are easily the top three position player prospects on the AZL Cubs right now (no others even close).  

Cubs top pitching prospect RHP C. J. Edwards (Tennessee 7-day DL - right shoulder inflamation) got the start for the Cubs (his second AZL rehab start) and worked 3.2 IP (62 pitches - 35 strikes), allowing one run on one hit and three walks with six strikeouts (four swinging and two looking) and a 4/1 GO/FO.

When looking ahead at the Cubs likely post-2014 MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), whether a player presently on the 40-man roster is eligible to be an MLB Article XX-B free-agent or will be eligible for Salary Arbitration, or whether a player presently on a Cubs minor league roster is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014 or is eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be determining factors. 

Players selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) are placed on a club's Negotiation List.

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