So Now What?
Today was last day of the 2013 MLB regular season, so starting tomorrow and continuing for several weeks, there are a number of roster issues that will need to be addressed:
1. OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENTS: All players on Optional Assignment to the minors must be recalled. No players may be on Optional Assignment to the minors beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season until 45 days prior to MLB Opening Day.
2. RULE 5 PLAYERS: After being selected by the Cubs in the Major League Phase of the December 2012 MLB Rule 5 Draft, RHP Hector Rondon fulfilled Rule 5 requirements by spending the entire 2013 MLB regular season on the Cubs 25-man roster, so as of tomorrow he will no longer be a "Rule 5 Player." This means he can be sent to the minors without any special restrictions (although he does have the right to decline an outright assignment and elect to be a free-agent because he has been outrighted previously in his career), and the Cleveland Indians AAA Columbus affiliate (the club from which Rondon was drafted) no longer has the right to reclaim the player for $25,000 per MLB Rule 6 should Rondon be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers and not be claimed by another MLB club.
Note that although he used three minor league options (2009-11) while he was a member of the Indians organization, Rondon will get a 4th minor league option in 2014.
3. ARTICLE XX-D MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS: All minor league players eligible to be a free-agent per Article XX-D of the CBA can file for free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season through October 15th. This is the only class of free-agent who must file for free-agency. (Article XX-B MLB free-agents and MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents are declared free-agents automatically, an Article XX-B MLB free-agent on the day after the conclusion of the World Series, and an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent at 5 PM on the 5th day following the conclusion of World Series if the player is not added to an MLB 40-man roster prior to that time).
A player is eligible to file for free-ageny under Article XX-D of the CBA if the player was on an MLB 40-man roster and then was sent outright to the minors, and the player had accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or had been outrighted previously in his career, and the player accepted the assignment and deferred his right to elect free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. (If a player eligible to be a free-agent per Article XX-D of the CBA elects free-agency immediately upon being outrighted, the player's contract is terminated and the player receives no termination pay). However, if a player who is eligible to be a free-agency per Article XX-D of the CBA accepts an outright assignment to the minors and then is subsequtently added back to an MLB 40-man roster prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the player is not eligible to elect free-agency after the conclusion of the MLB regular season.
RHP Michael Bowden, RHP Henry Rodriguez, and RHP Eduardo Sanchez are the three Cubs minor leaguers eligible to file for free-agency per Article XX-D of the CBA beginning tomorrow and extending up through 10/15. In each case the player accepted an Outright Assignment to the minors, deferring his right to elect free-agency until the after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. However, if the Cubs were to add any of the three back to their MLB 40-man roster prior to the player filing for free-agency, the player would NOT be a free-agent. So the Cubs have several hours left if they wish to add Bowden, Rodriguez, and/or Sanchez back to their MLB 40-man roster. That said, I doubt VERY much that the Cubs will do that, altough they may try to re-sign one or more of the three to a 2013 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training.
BTW, it is not unusual for a few potentially useful Article XX-D players to be signed quickly after electing free-agency (usually to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, but occasionally to a major league contract), either because the player has some value at the major league level but was not claimed off waivers because he was making too much money when he was outrighted, or because the claiming club did not have room on its MLB 40-man roster when the player was placed on waivers but now it does, or because the player had a good year in AAA after being outrighted.
4. ARTICLE XX-B MLB FREE-AGENT: There are five Cubs eligible to be Article XX-B MLB free-agents post-2013: RHP Scott Baker, RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Matt Guerrier, C Dioner Navarro, and OF Brian Sweeney.
Any unsigned MLB player with a least six years of MLB Service Time is automaticaly declared a free-agent on the day after the conclusion of the World Series (the player used to have to file, but now it's automatic), and the player's club retains exclusive negotiating rights with that player for the first five days after the conclusion of the World Series. The club must decide by the 5th day whether to extend a "Qulaifying Offer" to the player (a one-year guaranteed contract with a salary at least equal to the average salary of the 125 highest-paid MLB players from the previous season, expected to be about $13.5M post-2012).
If the club extends a "Qualifying Offer" to the player and the player accepts, the player is considered "signed" and must be added back to the club's 40-man roster immediately.
If the club extends a "Qualifying Offer" to the player and the player declines, the club can still sign the player at some point, but the club would receive a compensation draft pick immediately after the 1st round in the next year's Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) if the player subsequently signs a major league contract with a different club.
If the club does not extend a "Qualifying Offer" to an Article XX-B MLB free-agent, the club receives no compensation if the player signs with a different club.
Don't expect the Cubs to extend a "Qualifying Offer" to any of their Ariticle XX-B MLB free-agents, but they probably will offer Baker, Guerrier, and Sweeney a 2013 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, and Navarro will probably sign a multi-year (maybe two years plus a 3rd year club option) major leaguie contract, maybe even with the Cubs. Despite the apology, Gregg probably burned his bridge with the Cubs.
5. MLB 60-DAY DISABLED LIST: Players on the MLB 60-day DL do not count against a club's 40-man roster limit, but all players on a club's 60-day DL must be reinstated no later than 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series.
The Cubs have six players on their MLB 60-day DL: RHP Rafael Dolis, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP Matt Guerrier, OF Thomas Neal, RHP Zach Putnam, and RHP Arodys Vizcaino. Each will have to be reinstated to the 40-man roster no later than 5 PM on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, and six players will need to be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for the players on the 60-day DL when they are reinstated. However, Guerrier will be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent on the day after the conclusion of the World Series, and any of the other five on the 60-day DL (especially Dolis, Neal, and Putnam) could just be outrighted when they are reinstated. Also, four more slots on the 40-man roster will be available when Baker, Gregg, Navarro, and Sweeney are declared free-agents after the conclusion of the World Series, and two more slots will probably be available when Boscan and McDonald (likely) get outrighted in October.
6. MLB RULE 55 MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT: Any minor league player who is eligible to be a free-agent per MLB Rule 55 ("Six-Year FA" and/or "Second-Contract" FA) is automatically declared a free-agent at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, but a player is not eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA if the player is added to an MLB 40-man roster or if the player and the club agree to a minor league "Successor Contract" prior to the deadline.
Also, if a club wishes to outright a player to the minors who would be eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA if on a minor league reserve list, the player must be outrighted to the minors by 5 PM on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, unless the player signs a major league contract for the following season or agrees (in advance) to sign a minor league contract for the following season prior to being outrighted.
CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE TO BE RULE 55 FA POST-2013: LHP Jeffry Antigua, LHP Kyler Burke, RHP Alex Burnett, RHP Yeiper Castillo, RHP Jaye Chapman, RHP Johermyn Chavez (ex-OF), RHP Eduardo Figueroa, OF Cole Gillespie, INF Edgar Gonzalez, RHP Marcus Hatley, RHP Marcos Mateo, INF Edwin Maysonet, INF Jonathon Mota, 1B Brad Nelson, IF-OF Nate Samson, IF-OF Tim Torres, RHP Casey Weathers, and OF Ty Wright,
SECOND CONTRACT (PREVIOUSLY-RELEASED) MINOR LEAGUE FA: RHP Michael de la Cruz, INF Carlos Figueroa (player-coach), INF Humberto Garcia, C Nate Maldonado (player-coach), RHP Yomar Pacheco, RHP Brohiglyn Rivero, RHP Orbandy Rodriguez, and C Roberto Vahlis.
A player is not eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA if the player and club agree to a minor league "Successor Contract" prior to 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, although if a Rule 55 minor league FA signs a minor league successor contract, he would be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
7- NOVEMBER 20th: Any minor league player who is eligible for selection in the next MLB Rule 5 Draft who is not added to an MLB 40-man roster by close of business on November 20th cannot be traded or added to an MLB 40-man roster until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.
CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE FOR SELECTION IN THE DECEMBER 2013 RULE 5 DRAFT
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
Alan Oaks, RHP
Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP (see NOTE)
Loiger Padron, RHP
Amaury Paulino, RHP
Felix Pena, RHP
Starling Peralta, RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Greg Rohan, INF
Jose Rosario, RHP
Victor Salazar, RHP
Dave Sappelt, OF
Brian Schlitter, 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.
Also, any injured player who accrued at least one day of MLB Service Time the previous season cannot be outrighted to the minors after November 20th.
8. RULE 5 DRAFT EXCLUDED PLAYER: Any minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft who is added to an MLB 40-man roster between August 15th and the Rule 5 Draft is a "Draft Excluded Player." This means the player cannot be sent to the minors (by outright or optional assignment) between the Rule 5 Draft and 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day (same as a Rule 5 Draft pick), and if the player is outrighted prior to the Rule 5 Draft, Outright Assignment Waivers must be requested no later than 2 PM (Eastern) on the 4th day following the conclusion of the World Series.
LHP Zac Rosscup is presently the only "Draft-Excluded Player" on the Cubs 40-man roster (although more are likely to be added by the November 20th roster deadline), so (for example) if the Cubs want to send Rosscup outright to the minors to open up a slot on their 40-man roster during the off-season, they must request Outright Assignment Waivers no later than 2 PM (Eastern) on the 4th day following the conclusion of the World Series and then outright the player before the waivers expire, or else they will have to wait to outright him to the minors until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day. Same goes for any other minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft that the Cubs add to their MLB 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft.
So the Cubs need to be careful to leave enough slots available on their 40-man roster for free-agents they might sign during the off-season. A club cannot outright a "Draft-Excluded Player" to the minors for most of November, December, January, February, and the first half of March. The club could outright a player who is not "Draft Excluded," but most of those players would be minor league free-agents if outrighted (at least until the player has signed a 2013 contract).
9. PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION: The following Cubs players will be eligible for salary arbitration this off-season: RHP Daniel Bard, INF Darwin Barney, OF Darnell McDonald, INF Donnie Murphy, LHP James Russell, RHP Jeff Samardzija, OF Nate Schierholtz, RHP Pedro Strop ("Super Two"), INF Luis Valbuena, and LHP Travis Wood.
10. DECEMBER 2nd: 2014 contracts are tendered to unsigned players on a club's 40-man roster on December 2nd. If an unsigned player is not tendered a 2014 major league contract on 12/2, he is said to be "non-tendered," and he is immediately declared a free-agent, free to sign a 2014 major league or minor league contract with any MLB club (including the club that non-tendered the player). To open up a slot on the club's MLB 40-man roster, or to sign a player for more than the permissable 20% pay cut, or to avoid salary arbitration, a club will sometimes non-tender a player on 12/2 and then (almost immediately) re-sign him to a major league or minor league contract for the following season. Daniel Bard, Brian Bogusevic, Danny Murphy, and Darnell McDonald are the type of players who could get non-tendered on 12/2 and then re-sign with the Cubs, probably to a non-guaranteed minor league contract (but for "major league money") with an NRI to Spring Training, and perhaps an "opt-out" for the player if the player doesn't make the Cubs 2014 Opening Day MLB 25-man roster.
11. 2014 MINOR LEAGUE OPTION STATUS: This doesn't matter right now (although it will matter in Spring Training), but J. C. Boscan, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, and Thomas Neal each used up his last minor league option in 2013 and thus each will be out of minor league options in 2014, joining Brian Bogusevic, Welington Castillo, Darnell McDonald, Donnie Murphy, Jeff Samardzija, Pedro Strop, Luis Valbuena, and Travis Wood as players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who have less than five years of MLB Service Time who are out of minor league options. (Players with a least five years of MLB Service Time must give their permission in advance before they can be optioned to the minors). I would expect Boscan, Dolis, McDonald, and Neal to get outrighted to Iowa in October (with Boscan and McDonald electing free-agency immediately because they werre outrighted previously in their careers, and Dolis and Neal being declared Rule 55 minor league free-agents after the World Series).