Ramirez and Pena are Type B Free Agents
The best thing MLB Trade Rumors ever did was buy the rights to Eddie Bajek's reverse-engineered Elias rankings. This year he nailed all but two free agents before the official list came out (Kelly Johnson and Joel Zumaya).
As for the Cubs, Ryan Dempster exercised his $14M option for next year, so his Type A status is a moot point. But the Cubs did exercise their $16M option on Aramis Ramirez last night and it seems to be a mere formality at this point that Ramirez will decline it to seek a multi-year deal. That saves the Cubs $2M on the buyout and the Cubs will likely get a supplemental draft pick if and when Ramirez signs somewhere else as he just missed Type A status and is a Type B free agent. Carlos Pena also qualified at Type B status and his situation is a bit trickier as he could potentially accept the Cubs arbitration offer.
That being said, with about 1/5th of the information that the Cubs front office has on the situation, I would probably take the chance. No, the Cubs probably don't want him back although if they miss out on Fielder or Pujols, there's not a whole lot better out there and he certainly is a guy that "grinds out at-bats". Yes, the Cubs could go cheaper and try Bryan LaHair there, but where else do you spend the money this offseason? There isn't a lot out there in free agency, although with the new regime, you would hope there's more leeway to save money in one season and use it another season. Also, the Cubs need a RF'er and possibly a LF'er and if Pena did come back, they could try LaHair out there. Or the most likely outcome, that Pena just does not accept the offer which the majority of free agents end up doing. And even if he does accept, the Cubs can release him in spring training as arbitration contracts are not guaranteed and would cost the Cubs just 45 days of pay. It's a bit of a risk on the Cubs part to do it, but I think the odds are on their side that it would ultimately be beneficial.
Also should note that Kerry Wood is a Type B free agent, but he already let it be known that he's either a Cub next year or retiring.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.