Cubs Lose Two Hurlers in Rule 5 Draft
The Cubs lost two minor league pitchers in the AAA Phase of today's Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in Florida.
Players selected in the AAA Phase cost $12,000, and "all sales are final" in the two minor league phases, meaning neither player will be returning to the Cubs.
Morla was one of three players acquired by the Cubs from Oakland a year ago (RHP Jeff Gray and 1B Matt Spencer were the other two) for INF Aaron Miles and C-IF-OF Jake Fox. Morla spent the 2010 season at Peoria, where he went 4-4 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, allowing 76 hits in 78 IP, with a 20/86 BB/K. I was very surprised that Morla was made available in the AAA Phase and was not protected on the Iowa roster.
Lambert was the Cubs 6th round pick out of the University of Virginia in 2007. He was the Cavs closer in college and was used aa a reliever his first two years in pro ball before being moved to the starting rotation at AA Tennessee in 2009. He was sidetracked by Tommy John Surgery at the end of the 2009 season, and spent most of the 2010 season rehabbing at Fitch Park, before moving up to Daytona in July, where he posted a 1-0 record with a 2.95 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 14 games (21 IP).
There were 48 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft, and with a 38-man AAA Reserve List limit the Cubs could not put all of their Rule 5 eligibles on the Iowa roster. But I would have thought that both Morla and Lambert had enough upside to be protected on the Iowa roster, making them available in the more restrictive Major League Phase, where the Cubs at least might have been able to get them back next Spring.
The Cubs did make one selection in the Major League Phase, tabbing RHP Mason Tobin from the Angels. But Tobin was subsequently traded to the Texas Rangers for cash, in what was obviously a pre-arranged deal. (The Rangers had the 26th pick. while the Cubs were picking 9th). The Cubs have done this before, spending $50,000 to draft a player (most famously Josh Hamilton in 2006), and then selling the player to the team for whom they made the pick for maybe $100,000 (thereby making a tidy $50K profit).
It's also possible that the Tobin deal could be the pre-cursor to a trade involving Chris Davis.
BTW, the Cubs were able to make a selection in the Major League Phase only because they still had one slot open on their 40-man roster, as Carlos Pena was not officially added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List until after the draft.