Can I Get You a Cup of Coffee?
This is the time of the year when MLB clubs begin to rearrange the deck-chairs, as contenders look to solidify their post-season rosters with a last minute waiver deal or two prior to the August 31st post-season roster eligibility deadline, and clubs that are out of contention bring up players from the minors to get a look at guys who might (or might not) have a future with the club.
Cubs possible September call-ups and roster additions:
Luis Valbuena (oblique) will likely be reinstated from the 15-day DL on or about 9/1, but if it turns out Valbuena is unable to return this season, he could be transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL if a 40-man roster slot is needed for Ryan Sweeney and Scott Baker. Both Sweeney (if he isn't traded by 8/31) and Baker (if he completes his minor league rehab assignment without another setback) could be reinstated from the 60-day DL on or about September 1st (although reinstating Sweeney and Baker would require one player presently on the 40-man roster to be dropped, either by trade, release, or outright assignment to the minors, or by a 60-day DL assignment),
J. C. Boscan (presently on an Optional Assignment at AAA Iowa) is probably a lock to be recalled on September 1st or at the close of the PCL season (clubs almost always add a third catcher in September), as are Justin Grimm, Eduardo Sanchez, Brooks Raley, Mike Olt, and Alberto Cabrera (who will be out of minor league options in 2013 and thus needs to be closely evaluated at the big league level ASAP). Josh Vitters probably would have been another recall (and he still might be), but he's back on the DL at Iowa with hamstring issues.
It's also possible that if an additional 40-man roster slot is at least temporarily available next month due to trades or injuries, that the Cubs could give someone like Iowa closer Brian Schlitter a look. Schlitter has previous big league experience with the Cubs, and he has battled back from TJS and other physical issues. However, if the Cubs were to call-up Schlitter (which would require him to be added to the MLB 40-man roster), he would have to be really impressive to survive.
There are presently 39 players on the Cubs MLB Reserve List, and another eight on the 60-day DL. (Players on the 60-day DL must be reinstated by 5 PM on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series).
Of the 47 (39 on the 40 and eight on ther 60), there are five players who will be Ariticle XX-B MLB free-agents after the conclusion of the 2013 World Series:
CUBS ARTICLE XX-B MLB FREE-AGENTS POST-2013:
Scott Baker, RHP
Kevin Gregg, RHP
Matt Guerrier, RHP
Dioner Navarro, C
Ryan Sweeney, OF
Of the five, Kevin Gregg is probably the most-likely to be traded this month. Most clubs in contention want to cement their bullpen with veteran relievers with closer experience, and Gregg certainly fits that description. The Cubs will likely be building their future bullpen around Pedro Strop and a collection of young arms, so Gregg really has no future with the Cubs (and he just barely has a present). So if the Cubs can pick-up a young arm with potential--even if it's a "lottery" type prospect from the DSL--they probably will move Gregg by the August 31 deadline.
Dioner Navarro would have value to any contending club looking to simultaneously upgrade their catching depth and their bench. He also actually would have some value to the Cubs over the next two or three years, too, since there isn't much in the way of MLB catching prospects in the Cubs system at this time. As I have mentioned before, I believe Rafael Lopez is probably the one minor league guy who might realistically project as an MLB catcher, but even he would probably be nothing more than a LH-hitting back-up catcher at the big league level. Lopez is already 25 years old (he turns 26 in October) and has yet to play above AA (although he was an all-star at that level this season), and it's not like he'll be big league ready in 2014. (Lopez was a third-baseman at Boston College and at Indian River JC, and then was converted to catcher after he transferred to Florida State... the Cubs drafted him as a 23-year old 5th year senior in 2011, so he won't be Rule 5 eligible until post-2014).
Ryan Seweney was placed on the 60-Day DL with a rib injury on June 30th, so he is eligible to be reinstated from the 60-day DL on August 29th, just in time to get traded to a contender. Now he will have to prove he is is healthy before the Cubs can place him on Trade Waivers, probably by going on a minor league rehab assignment next week. Then once he proves that he's healthy enough to play, the Cubs could put him on Trade Waivers on August 29th, and he would clear waivers at 1 PM (Eastern) on August 31st. Whether is is claimed or not claimed, the Cubs could trade Sweeney by the midnight deadline on August 31st, but if he is claimed the Cubs would be restricted to trading him to just one club (the club that claims him).
Scott Baker (April 2012 TJS rehab) just began a second minor league rehab assignment at Daytona this week, and maybe this time he'll get through it without being shut-down. Baker signed a one-year $5.5M deal with the Cubs last off-season, but he has yet to throw an inning at the big league level this year. There has been talk that Baker would like to come back to the Cubs in 2014, but hopefully this time the Cubs will be smart enough not to give him so much guaranteed money. Maybe it would be better to sign him to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training instead of giving him a major league contract and a spot on the 40-man roster, too.
Matt Guerrier underwent season-ending elbow surgery last week, and will likely miss the next nine months. Guerrier has said that he would like to return to the Cubs in 2014, and that is probably a distinct possibility, since he could sign a 2014 minor league contract and spend the first-half of next season rehabbing at the Cubs new Spring Training & minor league facility at Riverview Park in Mesa. The Cubs have done this in the past with their own minor league free-agents who were rehabbing from surgeries, re-signing guys like Justin Berg and Marcos Mateo to minor league contracts for their rehab season.
So five slots on the 40-man roster should become available post-2013, once Baker, Gregg, Guerrier, Navarro, and Sweeney are declared free-agents on the day after the conclusion of the World Series (if they haven't already been traded).
In addition to the five post-2013 Article XX-B MLB free-agents, there are also ten Cubs players eligible for salary arbitration post-2013:
CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY-ARBITRATION POSt-2013:
Darwin Barney, INF - $2.5M?
Darnell McDonald, OF - $1M?
Donnie Murphy, INF - $1M?
Cody Ransom, INF - $1M?
James Russell, LHP - $2M?
Jeff Samardzija, RHP - $7M?
Nate Schierholtz, OF- $4M?
Pedro Strop, RHP ("Super Two") - $1.5M?
Luis Valbuena, INF - $1.5M?
Travis Wood, LHP - $3.5M?
Arbitration-eligibles are usually the guys who get non-tendered in December, either because the club wants the player back in the mix for the next season but ONLY if the player agrees to sign a minor league contract (usually with an NRI to Spring Training), or because the club does not want to risk losing in an arbitration hearing.
Of the ten post-2013 arbitration-eligibles, Samardzija, Schierholtz, Wood, Barney, Russell, Strop, and Valbuena are likely to be tendered contracts, while McDonald, Murphy, and Ransom are not, although any or all of the latter three could be non-tendered on 12/2 and then offered 2014 minor league contracts (with an NRI to Spring Training)
Among the remaining 32 players players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster or 60-day DL, six are already signed for 2014:
CUBS PLAYERS SIGNED FOR 2014:
Edwin Jackson, RHP - $11M
Starlin Castro, SS - $5M
Carlos Villanueva, RHP - $5M
Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP - $4M (plus $2M in potential performance bonuses related to GF)
Jorge Soler, OF - $2M
Anthony Rizzo, 1B - $1.75M (plus $1.25M deferred signing bonus)
Unless Fujikawa (who underwent TJS in May) is outrighted to the minors post-2013 (as an NPB veteran he probably has a "no minor league assignment" clause in his contract) or somebody gets traded, all six of the signed players should remain on the Cubs 40-man roster into the 2014 season.
That leaves 26 players presently on the Cubs 40-man roster or 60-day DL who are not signed for 2014, not eligible to be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent, and not eligible for salary arbitration. These players are the guys who are under club control, where the club essentially can dictate the player's salary (albeit restricted by minimum salary limits):
CUBS PLAYERS PRE-ARBITRATION/AUTO-RENEWAL POSt-2013:
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Brian Bogusevic, OF
J. C. Boscan, C
Michael Bowden, RHP
Alberto Cabrera, RHP
Welington Castillo, C
Rafael Dolis, RHP
Cole Gillespie, OF
Justin Grimm, RHP
Brett Jackson, OF
Junior Lake, OF
Trey McNutt, RHP
Thomas Neal, OF
Mike Olt, 3B
Blake Parkjer, RHP
Zach Putnam, RHP
Brooks Raley, LHP
Hector Rondon, RHP
Chris Rusin, LHP
Eduardo Sanchez, RHP
Dave Sappelt, OF
Matt Szczur, OF
Christian Villanueva, 3B
Josh Vitters, IF-OF
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
Logan Watkins, INF
These are also the players who have a minor league "split salary" in their contract, where the player is paid one salary if he is on the 25-man roster or on an MLB Disabled List (minimum goes up to $500K per year beginning in 2014, pro-rated to the number of days the player spends on an MLB 25-man roster or MLB 15-day, 60-day, or 7-day Disabled List), and a significantly lesser salary if he is on Optional Assignment to the minors (about $40,000 per year pro-rated for players on the 40-man roster for the first time, and about $80,000 per year pro-rated for the others).
Of the 26 listed here, I would say six (Bogusevic, Boscan, Gillespie, Neal, Putnam, and Sappelt) are virtual locks to get outrighted to the minors after the season. (Sappelt cannot be a minor league FA post-2013 if he is outrighted, but the others can be either per MLB Rule 55 or Article XX-D of the CBA). Combined with the five MLB Article XX-B free-agents (Baker, Gregg, Guerrier, Navarro, and Sweeney) and the three arbitration-eligibles likely to be non-tendered (McDonald, Murphy, and Ransom), the Cubs should have 33 slots on their 40-man roster commited post-2013.
That leaves seven slots available for any post-2013 minor league free-agent the Cubs might not want to lose, as well for minor league players eligible for selection in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft who the Cubs might want to protect:
ARTICLE XX-D CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS POST-2013:
Henry Rodriguez, RHP
NOTE: An Article XX-D player can elect free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th, unless the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster prior to electing free-agency
MLB RULE 55 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS POST-2013:
NOTE: MLB Rule 55 minor league players are automatically declared free-agents at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, unless the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster prior to that time.
SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT:
Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Kyler Burke, LHP
Alex Burnett, RHP
Yeiper Castillo, RHP
Jaye Chapman, RHP
Johermyn Chavez, RHP (ex-OF)
Dayan Diaz, RHP
Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
Edgar Gonzalez, INF
Marcus Hatley, RHP
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Edwin Maysonet, INF
Jonathon Mota, INF
Brad Nelson, 1B
Nate Samson, IF-OF
Tim Torres, IF-OF
Casey Weathers, RHP
Ty Wright, OF
SECOND-CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT
Michael de la Cruz, RHP (was previously released by TEX)
Carlos Figueroa, INF (player-coach - was previously released by CHC)
Humberto Garcia, INF (was previously released by CHW)
Nate Maldonado, C (player-coach - was previously released by CHC)
Yomar Pacheco, RHP (was previously released by PIT)
Brohiglyn Rivero, RHP (was previously released by TB)
Orbandy Rodriguez, RHP (AKA "Manuel Gil" - was previously released by AZ)
Roberto Vahlis, C (was previously released by TOR)
Of these 27 players (one Article XX-D, 18 6YFA, and eight second-contracts), LHP Kyler Burke is the one most-likely to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2013. Burke might get assigned to the AFL (Mesa Solar Sox) as an audition for inclusion, but I doubt very much that any of the others listed above will be added to the 40. That doesn't mean that some of them won't return to the Cubs organization in 2014 (usually about half of a club's minor league free-agents sign minor league successor contracts), but it becomes a "mutual option" if the player is not added to the club's MLB 40-man roster by the deadline. Also, any minor league free-agent who signs a minor league successor contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection. BTW, that's how the Cubs ended up with Hector Rondon... he was a 6YFA post-2012, the Indians re-signed him to a successor contract for 2013, and then the Cubs selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. So that's the chance a club takes when it signs (or re-signs) a minor league FA prior to the Rule 5 Draft.
So if Burke is added to the 40 post-2013, that would leave six slots open.
Next we look at Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible for selection in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft.
CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR MLB RULE 5 DRAFT POST-2013:
Arismendy Alcantara, INF
Gioskar Amaya, INF
Frank Batista, RHP
Dallas Beeler, RHP
Julio Borbon, OF
Justin Bour, 1B
Marcelo Carreno, RHP
Lendy Castillo, RHP
Javier Castro, RHP
Zach Cates, RHP
Hunter Cervenka, LHP
Pin-Chieh Chen, OF
Casey Coleman, RHP
Gerardo Concepcion, LHP
Willson Contreras, C
Wes Darvill, INF
Antonio Encarnacion, RHP
Luis Flores, C
Anthony Giansanti, OF
Enyel Gonzalez, RHP
Carlos Gutierrez, RHP
Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
Marco Hernandez, INF
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Austin Kirk, LHP
Matt Loosen, RHP
Jeff Lorick, LHP
Eric Martinez, RHP
A. J. Morris, RHP
Chad Noble, C
Loiger Padron, RHP
Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP (see NOTE)
Amaury Paulino, RHP
Felix Pena, RHP
Starling Peralta, RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Greg Rohan, INF
Jose Rosario, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Victor Salazar, RHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Ryan Searle, RHP
Elliot Soto, INF,
Nick Struck, RHP
Luis Villalba, LHP
Yao-Lin Wang, RHP
Oliver Zapata, OF
NOTE: Juan Carlos Paniagua signed his first contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks as "Juan Callado" on 5-8-2009 and pitched for the DSL Diamondbacks in the Dominican Summer League in 2009-10, but the contract was "pending" for almost two years and was never officially approved by MLB. The contract was eventually rejected by MLB due to "fraudulent paperwork" and Paniagua (Callado) was suspended for one year and then was declared a free-agent. He signed with the New York Yankees in March 2011 but then was suspended again and that contract was rejected, too, because his birth certificate could not be verified. Paniagua was cleared by MLB in 2012 and he signed with the Cubs on 7-9-2012. Therefore, Paniagua could be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in December 2013, since 2009 was his "first season" on the field, and he was 18 on the June 5th immediately preceding the signing of his first contract, or he might not be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft for the first time until December 2015 if 2012 is considered Paniagua's "first season" for Rule 5 eligibility purposes.
So at present there are 47 players eligible for selection (48 if MLB declares Paniagua eligible), and of that group, three or four will likely be added to the Cubs 40-man roster by the November 20th deadline:
Arismendy Alcantara (virtual lock)
Jae-Hoon Ha (likely)
Zac Rosscup, (likely)
Juan Carlos Paniagua (but only if he is declared eligible for selection by MLB - TBD)
It's possible that the Cubs could decide to add another starting pitcher to the 40 (like maybe Loosen, Jokisch, or Beeler), but that would probably happen only if the pitcher throws "lights out" in the AFL, or in Winter Ball prior to the 11/20 deadline.
So if the Cubs add three or four post-2013 Rule 5 eligibles to their 40-man roster, that would leave two or three slots open for a Rule 5 draft pick and/or an MLB free-agent or two.
Keep in mind that Rule 5 eligible players (which technically also includes minor league free-agents like Burke) who are added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th have "Draft-Excluded Status" and cannot be outrighted back to the minors during most of the off-season, so if additional roster slots are needed for a Rule 5 pick or free-agents signing major league contracts December-January-February, the Cubs would have to either release a Draft-Excluded Player or release or outright a pre-arbitration/auto-renewal guy (like Rafael Dolis, Eduardo Sanchez, Michael Bowden, and/ or Hector Rondon).
Kershaw uses his 132nd pitch for his 15th K (Marlon Juice Byrd, with the tying run at 2nd), and the Dodgers sweep the Giants. Also, Pirates lose to the Brewers for the 5th straight time. So...with 30 to play, we are 6.5 up on SF (7 in loss column) and 8 up on the Nats, and still in contact (4.5 back) of the Pirates. Man, what a roller coaster the last 2 days -- fantastic stuff.
Schlitter still pitching for Iowa? Guess nobody wanted him?
JOHN B: Pierce Johnson and Rob Zastryzny were likely 2015 AFL candidates (I mentioned them as likely candidates to get assigned to the AFL in an article about the AFL last month) because they are starting pitchers who missed part of the season due to injuries and they need to accrue more innings.
Also - what did Bosio say when we went to talk to Rondon? "OK, Hector, tie game, 9th inning, 2 outs, 2-0 count on the hottest hitter in the game. Let's try the ol' fastball right down the middle and see how that works, hmmm?" Terrible pitch. I've never been a fan of using closers in non-save situations -- they are used to pitching with adrenaline pumping and celebrating the last out of the inning. I realize it was a a swinging bunt and an error that caused the problem, but that may have been the worst pitch I have seen Rondon throw in a long time.
Ugly series save a few clutch Homeruns. 2 first inning Homeruns allowed. 2 complete innings (out of 27) with a lead (8th and 9th game 2). 6 Leads/Ties given up top half of the inning after scoring. 9 9th inning unearned runs. Brutal roadtrip coming up while SF plays 22 straight against teams with losing records. Like the Cubs odds, obviously, but long way to go.
No more f'n Pajama Parties, Joe! Losing a series at home to the Reds (who have a worse record than the Brewers) in September is not what we are looking for, gentlemen. 3 series losses in a row -- let's get that fixed immediately. Bad error by KB as Crunch describes -- almost like he was surprised the ball was hit to him. I think if he makes that play we win the game.
solid smack to him...right through his legs. he wasn't even in motion, totally stationary. no bad bounce, either. it was hit very hard, but also squarely wiffed...not even any glove contact. it happens...not a good time for it to happen with 2 outs, though. that was the inning ender, easy.
Can someone tell me about Bryant's error who saw the play? You cannot give the Reds (or most teams) 4 outs. In this case with Joey Votto coming up.
un...fucking...believable... tie a game in the bottom 8th, give up 3 runs in the top 9th...why the hell not. awesome.
DAT TIE THO.
Ugh Hammel...the new Haren. The 3-5 starters have imploded and killed yet another series.
Just about to type the same thing.....Augh!
5 times in the last 3 games, Cubs have taken the lead or tied the game in the bottom half, only to give up runs in the top half.
<p>I'd like to see stats on opposing pitcher batting average. It's probably not real, but seems like we give up hits all the time to f-ing pitchers. </p>
Tony Four Sacks # 27