Looking at the Cubs MLB 40-Man Roster into the Near Future
When looking ahead at the Cubs likely post-2014 MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), whether a player presently on the 40-man roster is eligible to be an MLB Article XX-B free-agent or will be eligible for Salary Arbitration, or whether a player presently on a Cubs minor league roster is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014 or is eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be determining factors.
Presuming they continue to remain out of contention, the Cubs will probably try to trade several of their post-2014 free-agents as well as one or more of the players who will be eligible for salary arbitration post-2014 over the next couple of months for younger players with more years of club control. The players the Cubs may target in a trade do not necessarily have to be minor leaguers, they could be young MLB players (like when the Cubs acquired RHSP Jake Arrieta, RHRP Pedro Strop, and an Internantional Signing Bonus Pool SBV from BAL for RHSP Scott Feldman and C-1B Steve Clevenger last July).
The Cubs could also trade one or more of their 2014-15 International Signing Bonus Pool SBVs beginning on July 2nd. Such a move could be part of a larger trade (the Cubs SBV being a "sweetener"), or the SBV could be used just to acquire a player from another club (like when the Cubs traded 2B Ronald Torreyes to Houston last year for one of the Astros SBV).
Cubs 2014-15 ISBP SBV #1: $2,288,700
Cubs 2014-15 ISBP SBV #2: $458,000
Cubs 2014-15 ISBP SBV #3: $309,300
Cubs 2014-15 ISBP SBV #4: $206,700
NOTE: Cubs 2014-15 ISBP SBV #1 (the one worth $2,288,700) can ONLY be traded to HOU or MIA if the entire SBV is to be used, because for all other clubs a $2,288,700 SBV would exceed their pre-assigned 2014-15 ISBP by more than 50%, and a club cannot acquire an SBV that is more than 50% of the club's orginally-assigned ISBP for that International Signing Period. However, a club other than HOU or MIA could acquire Cubs SBV #1 and then subtract as much of it as is necessary so that the final total of Cubs SBV #1 is no more than 50% of the new club's originally-assigned 2014-15 ISBP (and then the balance of Cubs SBV #1 would just be forfeited).
All clubs receive an additional $700,000 in their ISBP that cannot be traded, so the Cubs 2014-15 ISBP is just under $4M.
Because they went WAY over their assigned International Signing Bonus Pool (ISBP) in 2013-14, the Cubs will not be able to sign any first-year international player for more than a $250,000 bonus during the 2014-15 International Signing Period (7-2-2014 through 6-15-2015), so having a $3.9M+ 2014-15 ISBP won't do them much good. They will almost certainly try and trade one or two of their higher SBV (probably as soon as they can, like on July 2nd) to one of the major players in signing international players (like maybe Toronto or Texas). So the Cubs would have to wait until at least July 2nd to make a deal where a Cub 2014-15 ISBP SBV is an integral part of the trade.
As far as making trades are concerned, the two in-season deadlines of relevance right now are the July 31st "non-waiver" deadline (players can be traded after July 31st only after Trade Assignment Waivers have been secured), and the August 31st post-season roster deadline (players acquired after August 31st are not eligible to play in the post-season).
Without knowing which players will or willnot be be traded, let's just look at a projected Cubs post-2014 40-man roster without considering trades.
There are five players eligible to be Article XX-B MLB free-agents post-2014, and it is probable that at least four (and quite possibly all five) will not be on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the 2014-15 off season.
CUBS ARTICLE XX-B MLB FREE-AGENTS POST-2014 (last updated 6-10-2014):
Emilio Bonifacio, IF-OF
Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP (club option)
Jason Hammel, RHP
Nate Schierholtz, OF
Carlos Villanueva, RHP
Any one or even all of them could get traded in the coming weeks, but even if they don't get traded (and we are not considering trades here), four of the five (Bonifacio, Fujikawa, Schierholtz, and Villanueva) do not figure in the Cubs plans going forth and can fairly easily be replaced. The one exception is RHP Jason Hammel, who conceivably could score a multi-year contract if the Cubs believe he can continue to pitch at the high level he has so far in 2014. If he isn't traded, the Cubs might even consider extending an Article XX-B Qualifying Offer to Hammel after the World Series, which would mean offering him a guaranteed one-year contract worth the average salary of the 125 highest MLB salaries in 2014 (probably about $15M). If Hammel accepts, he's back in 2015 on a one-year contract (and he does NOT get an automatic "no trade" right). If he declines the QO, he can still re-sign with the Cubs during the off-season, but if he signs with another MLB club prior to the 2015 June Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft), the Cubs would receive a compensation draft pick between the 1st and 2nd round of the 2015 draft (around #30).
Besides the five players eligible to be an Article XX-B MLB free-agent post-2014, there are an additional 14 Cubs players who will be eligible for salary arbitration post-2014 (plus two more who could be eligible - TBD).
CUBS PROJECTED ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE POST-2014: (last updated 6-3-2014)
Jake Arrieta, RHP
John Baker, C
Darwin Barney, INF
Welington Castillo, C
Chris Coghlan, OF
Ryan Kalish, OF (will qualify if at least 139 days of MLB Service Time are accrued in 2014, or could qualify as a "Super Two" with at least 86 days of MLB Service Time accrued in 2014)
James McDonald, RHP
Justin Ruggiano, OF
James Russell, LHP
Jeff Samardzija, RHP
Pedro Strop, RHP
Luis Valbuena, INF
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (would very likely qualify as a “Super Two” with at least 86 days of MLB Service Time in 2014)
Eli Whiteside, C
Travis Wood, LHP
Wesley Wright, LHP
Before a player gets anywhere close to requesting Salary Arbitration, the player must be tendered a 2015 contract on December 2nd. Then if the player and the club cannot come to an agreement, the player can request salary arbitration in January. (The player is NOT offered salary abitration by the club on December 2nd... he is merely tendered a contract on that date, and then it is up to the player to request salary arbitration in January if the club and the player have not agreed on a contract by that time).
If a player on an MLB 40-man roster is not tendered a contract on December 2nd, the player is said to be "non-tendered" and he immediately becomes an unrestricted free-agernt, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club (including the player's former club). A club will sometimes non-tender a player on December 2nd and then almost immediately re-sign the player to a pre-arranged minor league contract or to a major league contract for a salary below what the club would have been required to offer if the player had been tendered a contract for the following season. (An unsigned player on an MLB 40-man roster who is tendered a contract must be offered a salary that is at least 80% of what the player received the previous season, and at least 70% of what the player received two seasons back).
Unless one or more of them are traded, it is likely that the Cubs will tender contracts to seven of their post-2014 aribtration-eligibles (Arrieta, Castillo, Samardzija, Strop, Valbuena, Vizcaino, and Wood), and four of the other nine (Baker, Coghlan, McDonald, and Whiteside) will probably be released or outrighted long before 2015 contracts are tendered,
That leaves Barney, Kalish, Ruggiano, Russell, and Wright, and at this point it would seem likely that four of the five will be non-tendered (Kalish probably only if he is arbitration-eligible). That doesn't mean that Barney, Ruggiano, Russell, and Wright could not return to the Cubs in 2015, just that they probably won't be tendered a contract on December 2nd. In the case of Kalish, the Cubs would probably non-tender him and then offer him a 2015 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training. Kalish will be out of minor league options in 2015, so even if he isn't arbitration-eligible post-2014 (if he remains in the minors until September 1st, he will NOT be eligible for salary arbitration post-2014), having him in big league camp on a minor league contract would allow the Cubs to send him to Iowa out of Spring Training without having to place him on waivers. BTW, that would also apply to Josh Vitters, who will (like Kalish) be out of minor league options in 2015.
Like the five players eligible to be Article XX-B MLB free-agents post-2014, Barney, Ruggiano, Russell, and Wright could very well get traded sometime prior to the August 31st post-season roster deadline. But if not, all four will probably be non-tendered on December 2nd, and while the Cubs might try to re-sign any or all of them to minor league contracts (with an NRI to Spring Training), it is unlikely that any of the four would accept. It's possible that the Cubs might offer either Russell or Wright (but probably not both) a 2015 non-guaranteed major league contract, however.
So right now the Cubs MLB Reserve List is full (40 players), plus two more players (Kyuji Fujikawa and James McDonald) are on the MLB 60-day DL (players on the 60-day DL do not count against the 40-man roster limit, but they must be reinstated no later than 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day folllowing the conclusion of the World Series).
If we subtract the five players eligible to be Article XX-B MLB free-agents (Bonifacio, Fujikawa, Hammel, Schierholtz, and Villanueva) and the four players eligible for salary arbitration who are likely to be outrighted or released after the season if not sooner (Baker, Coghlan, McDonald, and Whiteside) from 42, that would leave 33 players on the 40-man roster by the end of the World Series, with seven slots open (or eight if Brett Jackson is outrighted, which is a distinct possibility).
Any minor league player eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft who is not added to an MLB 40-man roster by November 20th is eligible for selection.
Also, a minor league player eligible to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent (player was eligible to elect to be a free-agent when outrighted, but accepted the outright assignment and deferred election of free-agency until the conclusion of the MLB regular season) can file anytime starting on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th (unless the player is added back to an MLB 40-man roster prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season, in which case the player is not eligible to be a free-agent), and a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (either a "six-year minor league free-agent" or a "second-contract minor league free-agent") post-2014 automatically becomes a free-agent at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the 2014 World Series if the player is not added to an MLB 40-man roster or signed to a 2015 minor league successor contract prior to that deadline.
Listed below are Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, as well as Cubs minor leaguers eligible to be Article XX-D and MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents (6YFA and second-contract FA) post-2014
So with seven slots open after the conclusion of the World Series (or eight if Brett Jackson gets outrighted), the following are (as things stand right now) the Cubs minor leaguers most-likely to be added to the MLB 40-man roster post-2014 (with additional 40-man roster slots becoming available for free-agents, Rule 5 Draft picks, and/or off-season waiver claims on December 2nd when at least four players could be non-tendered):
VIRTUAL LOCK TO BE ADDED TO CUBS MLB 40-MAN ROSTER:
Kyle Hendricks, RHSP (at Iowa) - Age 24
C. J. Edwards, RHSP (on DL at Tennessee) - Age 22
LIKELY TO BE ADDED TO 40-MAN ROSTER:
Hunter Cervenka, LHRP (at Tennessee) - Age 24
Marcus Hatley, RHRP (at Iowa - minor league FA post-2014) - Age 26
Rafael Lopez, C (at Iowa) - Age 26
Eric Jokisch, LHSP (at Iowa) - Age 24
Carlos Pimentel, RHRP (at Iowa - minor league FA post-2014) - Age 24
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHSP (at Tennessee - minor league FA post-2014) - Age 25
OUTSIDE SHOT (actually much more likely to be selected in Rule 5 Draft than to be added to Cubs 40-man roster):
Gioskar Amaya, 2B (at Daytona) - Age 21
Jose Arias, RHRP (at Kane County) - Age 23
Zach Cates, RHRP (at Tennessee) - Age 24
Marco Hernandez, SS (at Daytona) - Age 21
Hendricks (acquired from TEX in the Ryan Dempster deal in 2012) could get called up during the 2014 season if and when Samardzija and/or Hammel get traded, while Edwards (acquired from TEX in the Matt Garza trade last season) won't get added to the 40 until the 11/20 deadline;
Cervenka (acquired along with RHRP Michael Bowden from BOS for OF Marlon Byrd in 2012) would slot in behind Zac Rosscup as a potential MLB lefty reliever down the line, and Lopez projects as an "offense-first" LH-hitting MLB back-up C-1B-3B (he might get called up on September 1st). Both Cervenka and Lopez would likely get selected in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft if left unprotected. Both are also good candidates to get assigned to the Arizona Fall League (AFL) post-2014;
Hatley has developed into a power-reliever at AAA and I can't see the Cubs letting him walk as a minor league FA (he could even get a September call-up). Last year the Cubs signed Hatley to a minor league successor contract with an NRI to Spring Training before he hit free-agency, keeping him in the organization for another year, but also exposing him in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft... but he'll almost certainly get selected in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft if the Cubs try that again this year;
Jokisch is a reliable soft-tossing lefty rotation starter at Iowa, and although he doesn't project as anything more than a #5 starter at the MLB level, that could possibly be enough to get him a slot on the 40 post-2014.
Pimentel (ex-TEX) was signed as a six-year minor league FA by the Cubs last off-season and was impressive at both MLB Camp and Minor League Camp, eventually winning a job in the AAA Iowa Cubs starting rotation (although he has since been moved to the I-Cubs bullpen). It's not often you find a young upside arm like Pimentel's among minor league 6YFA;
Rhee was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2013, but signed a 2014 minor league successor contract prior to hitting free-agency... it's unlikely that he'll do that again this year unless he gets "40-man roster money" and an NRI to MLB Spring Training;
Cates (acquired from SD in the Rizzo-Cashner trade) pitched well out of the bullpen at Daytona and just got promoted to AA Tennessee last week, and while he could attract the attention of a club looking to score a young hard-throwing bullpen arm in the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs probably would not roster him just to keep that from happening;
Arias has been a mainstay in the KC bullpen this season (although he went on the DL a couple of days ago) and could possibly get selected in the Rule 5 Draft by a club wanting to take a chance on a young bullpen arm, but the Cubs almost certainly won't add him to the 40 just to avoid that somewhat remote possibility from occurring;
Amaya and Hernandez have MLB-upside but are still probably too far down the pipeline for the Cubs to protect them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft (plus they might run out of options before they are MLB-ready if they are added to the 40-man roster too early), so the Cubs will very likely take the chance that even if one or both were to be selected, that they would probably get them back;
Also, Jeffrey Baez is a 20-year old "five-tool" outfielder eligible for selection, but he will be at Boise in 2014, and so it is not likely that a club would take him in the Rule 5 Draft... and even if that possibility was an issue, the Cubs still won't protect him because he is too far away from MLB and he would very likely run of minor league options before he is ready for The Show if he is rostered too soon.
CUBS MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR SELECTION IN DECEMBER 2014 RULE 5 DRAFT (last updated 6-5-2014):
Gilberto Abreu, RHP
Gioskar Amaya, INF
John Andreoli, OF
Delbis Arcila, OF
Jose Arias, RHP
Jeffrey Baez, OF
Frank Batista, RHP
Zach Cates, RHP
Hunter Cervenka, LHP
Pin-Chieh Chen, OF
Gerardo Concepcion, LHP (Article XX-D player - can elect free-agency if drafted & then later re-claimed by Cubs)
Willson Contreras, C
Wes Darvill, INF
Taylor Davis, C
Zeke DeVoss, OF
Alberto Diaz, LHP
C. J. Edwards, RHP
Kevin Encarnacion, OF
P. J. Francescon, RHP
Victor Garcia, LHP
Dustin Geiger, INF
Anthony Giansanti, OF
Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
Kyle Hendricks, RHP
Marco Hernandez, INF
Michael Jensen, RHP
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Austin Kirk, LHP
Matt Loosen, RHP
Rafael Lopez, C
Jeff Lorick, LHP
Barret Loux, RHP
Dillon Maples, RHP
Andrew McKirahan, LHP
Trey McNutt, RHP (Article XX-D player - can elect free-agency if drafted & then later re-claimed by Cubs)
Alberto Mineo, C
Yoanner Negrin, RHP
Carlos Penalver, INF
Felix Pena, RHP
Ivan Pineyro, RHP
Austin Reed, RHP
Victor Salazar, RHP
Tayler Scott, RHP
Rock Shoulders, 1B
Rubi Silva, OF
Brian Smith, LHP
Elliot Soto, INF
Antonio Valerio, C
Yao-Lin Wang, RHP
Ben Wells, RHP
Oliver Zapata, OF
Tony Zych, RHP
Additionally, any minor league player eligible to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent, or any minor league player eligible to be a Rule 55 Six-Year Minor League Free-Agent (6YFA) post-2014 who signs a 2015 minor league contract or agrees to a 2015 minor league successor contract prior to the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be eligible for selection.
Also, any player eligible to be a Rule 55 Second Contract Minor League Free-Agent who signs a 2015 minor league contract prior to the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection if the player was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 5th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract, or the player was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 4th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract.
ARTICLE XX-D CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT POST-2014:
Marcos Mateo, RHP
MLB RULE 55 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS POST-2014:
Lars Anderson, 1B
Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Alberto Cabrera, RHP
Marcelo Carreno, RHP
Lendy Castillo, RHP
Hunter Cervenka, LHP (see NOTE)
Charlie Cutler, C
Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
Luis Flores, C
Edgar Gonzalez, INF
Marcus Hatley, RHP
Jonathon Mota, INF
Starling Peralta, RHP
Carlos Pimentel, RHP
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
Jose Rosario, RHP
Jonathan Sanchez, LHP
Jeudy Valdez, INF
Chris Valaika, INF
Casper Wells, OF
NOTE: Hunter Cervenka will be eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2014 if he signed a 2008 contract when he signed his "first contract" with the Boston Red Sox on 8-15-2008. However, if he was “Signed for Future Service“ (first contract was a 2009 contract), he will not be eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA until post-2015.
SECOND CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE FA:
Jesus Arias, RHP (previously released by CLE)
Humberto Garcia, INF (previously released by CHW)
Joe Gardner, RHP (previously released by COL)
Yeiker Lovera, RHP (previously released by CLE)
Nate Maldonado, C (previously released by CHC)
Yomar Pacheco, RHP (previously released by PIT)
Manny Ramirez, OF (previously released by TEX)
Brohiglyn Rivero, RHP (previously released by TB)
Julio Rodriguez, RHP (previously released by BAL)
Julio Sanchez, RHP (previously released by COL)
Roberto Vahlis, C (previously released by TOR)
Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP (previously released by CHC)