The DeWitt Options
IF-OF Blake DeWitt was Designated for Assignment on Sunday to make room on the Cubs 25-man roster for LHP Travis Wood, and in the process DeWitt (at least temporarily -- see below) has been removed from the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), although he will continue to get paid and accrue MLB Service Time while he is on the Designated List.
The Cubs now have ten days to decide his fate.
While many Cub fans couldn't care less and probably just wish he would go away, here are the Cubs options (and DeWitt's options):
DeWitt had a hot Spring Training at the plate and might have drawn some interest from other MLB clubs at that time, but he has played so poorly since the start of the regular season that it is very unlikely that there would be much trade interest in him now.
So a trade is not likely.
If the Cubs decide to release DeWitt, he would be placed on Outright Release Waivers where any other MLB club could claim him for $1 and assume 100% of his remaining salary.
If DeWitt were to be claimed off Release Waivers, he would have the right to refuse the assignment and be a free-agent, but if he does that, he receives no termination pay.
However, clubs almost never claim players off Release Waivers because it's better to just wait for the player to clear waivers and then sign him for the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary, sticking the player's previous club with paying the balance of the player's salary.
So the Cubs will almost certainly not release DeWitt.
If the Cubs decide to try and outright DeWitt to the minors and he is claimed off Outright Waivers, the claiming club would pay the Cubs $20,000 and assume 100% of DeWitt's contract and all of what remains of his 2012 $1.1M salary (about $900K). The Cubs would be absolutely ecstatic if this happens.
If DeWitt were to be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers and not be claimed, the Cubs could outright him to the minors (just as they did prior to the start of Spring Training).
However, per Article XX-D of the CBA, any player on an MLB 40-man roster who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career (and DeWitt fits both criteria) has the right to decline an Outright Assignment and be a free-agent immediately (and receive no termination pay), or accept the Outright Assignment (and continue to be paid his salary) and defer the right to be a free-agent until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season.
So if Outright Waivers are secured and the Cubs outright DeWitt to the minors (as they did prior to the start of Spring Training), DeWitt would have the right (per Article XX-D of the CBA) to either decline the Outright Assignment and be a free-agent immediately (and receive no termination pay), or accept the Outright Assignment and continue to be paid per the terms of his 2012 guaranteed contract, deferring free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. (NOTE: DeWitt would lose the right to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent post-2012 if he defers the right to be a free-agent and then is added back to an MLB 40-man roster prior to the conclusion of the 2012 MLB regular season).
This was the same choice DeWitt had when he was outrighted prior to Spring Training, and at that time he opted to accept the Outright Assignment to AAA Iowa and continue to be paid his $1.1M salary, with an NRI to Spring Training giving him a chance to make the Cubs MLB Opening Day 25-man roster (which he did).
While the Cubs would probably hope that he would elect free-agency immediately if outrighted (and save the Cubs about $900K in 2012 payroll in the process), DeWitt likely would make the same choice this time should he be outrighted again. He would accept the Outright Assignment and defer free-agency until the conclusion of the MLB regular season. (His agent would insist!).
And finally, the Cubs could elect to option DeWitt to AAA Iowa.
But why would the Cubs DFA DeWitt if they just want to option him to the minors?
Some players on an MLB 40-man roster who do not have enough MLB Service Time to refuse an Optional Assignment to the minors but who have minor league options remaining still cannot be optioned to the minors until Optional Assignment Waivers are secured, and Blake DeWitt is one of them. (Ian Stewart, Chris Volstad, and Randy Wells are the other Cubs in this category). That's because DeWitt, Stewart, Volstad, and Wells made their debut on an MLB 25-man roster more than three years ago.
If a player is claimed off Optional Assignment Waivers, the waivers are (like Trade Waivers in August-September) revocable (meaning the waivers can be recalled if a claim is made). so players placed on Optional Assignment Waivers are almost never claimed. (The claiming club also assumes 100% of the player's remaining salary, another reason not to make a claim).
Once secured, Optional Assignment Waivers are good for the balance of that waiver period, so the player can be recalled and then optioned back to the minors again and again (as many times as the club desires) during that waiver period without waivers needing to be secured each time.
A new waiver period commenced last Friday (the 31st day of the 2012 MLB regular season), and so the Cubs probably had not gotten around to securing Optional Assignment Waivers yet, Thus the Cubs had no choice but to DFA DeWitt in order to open up a slot on the 25-man roster for Travis Wood, while they wait a couple of days to secure Optional Assignment Waivers on DeWitt. (It takes two business days to get a player through waivers).
So because Outright Assignment Waivers need to be secured before DeWitt can be optioned to the minors, and since the Cubs presently have one slot open on their 40-man roster so that DeWitt's roster slot is not needed for another player (and probably won't be needed until September), don't be surprised if the Cubs ultimately just option DeWitt to the minors sometime later this week, once Optional Assignment Waivers have been secured.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.