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.
Yeah, Underwood impresses the internet scouts more than the opposing hitters. Blackburn and Williams have pitched well but they would be more interesting if they missed more bats.
Myrtle Beach has a couple of guys--Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett--worth keeping an eye on.
South Bend has the best record in the Midwest League but it's more about their bats than their starting pitching.
Thanks Steve, I always forget about that.
Maddon spins the wheel-o-lineups and Bryant is playing 1B.
The line-ups, by the way, appear in the Twitter box on the left and usually very soon after they are made available.
Looks like no Heyward or Rizzo in the lineup today.
HAGSAG: Kevonte Mitchell has shown some improvement in 2016. He takes a lot of walks, shows occasional power, and he's an athletic defender capable of making the big play in the OF.
However, he strikes out way too much, he doesn't always take the most-direct-route to get to balls hit into the air, and he sometimes runs himself into outs on the bases. He is still very raw.
E-MAN: I don't think Dallas Beeler has a long-term future with the Cubs, but (when healthy) he has gotten the call over the past couple of years as the "26th man" when the Cubs needed an extra starter in a doubleheader.
PHIL: Thanks for the wrap. A 2010 early-ish round Hendry draft pick, why do you surmise the new management team just doesn't cut bait on Beeler? Not shown that much as a starter. Does he have a power arm when right? Is he another Schlitter? Or, is he rosyer filler while the org waits out the lower-level arms to surpass him?
Ryan Kellogg is still a fringy prospect despite being very old for low-A. He's putting up very good numbers no matter who he's facihg.
Great article on Yosh and Nobe. Thanks for including it Trans.
Phil, it looks like Kevonte Mitchell has made some progress this Spring. Your thoughts please, thanks.
so far ryan williams (AAA) is the only system prospect on the "could be ready soon" horizon doing well...that said, he's not very exciting and he's assumed to be an end-rotation talent at best.
paul blackburn is getting great early returns in AA, but he's getting surprisingly low K numbers doing it. he throws lot of low/sinking stuff with good control...also assumed to be an end-rotation guy, but he's got room to be better, especially given his control as base to build on.
Speaking of pitching -- another ugly outing for Underwood at AA. Through 6 starts: 5.19 ERA, WHIP 1.69. Yikes!
Man, do we need starting pitching depth. Our best hopes are still hanging with AZ Phil in Arizona. Very scary.
jeebus... that's terrible.
*clap* *clap* *clap*
Thanks AZ. If you like him, I like him.
Awesome report, and good to see Beeler on his way back.
I'm also very happy to hear about the bi-level bump for Daniel Lewis. In the Name of Theo, he was the Last of the Full-Season Cuts, and There Will Be Blood for those who unnecessarily slow his development. Sure, he might end up in independent ball pitching for Lincoln. But if everything breaks right, he may even have a shot at joining up with the Gangs of Chicago. I wouldn't bet My Left Foot on it, though.