Cubs vs. Brewers: Series Thread (Games 47-50)

Thanks to a pair of make-up doubleheader, the Cubs begin a 7-day, 9 game homestand. They'll kick off the four-game set against thr Brewers with a Memorial Day doubleheader. See below for matchups.

Game 47, Monday, May 30, 12:05 pm central

CHC: RHP Matt Swarmer (0-0, -.-- ERA)

MIL: LHP Ethan Small (0-0, -.-- ERA)

Game 48, Monday, May 30, 6:40 pm central

CHC: LHP Drew Smyly (2-5, 4.08 ERA)

MIL: LHP Aaron Ashby (0-3, 2.91 ERA)

Game 49, Tuesday, May 31, 7:05 pm central

CHC: LHP Justin Steele (1-5, 5.40 ERA)

MIL: LHP Eric Lauer (5-1, 2.31 ERA)

Game 50, Wednesday, June 1, 7:05 pm central

CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-5, 5.20 ERA)

MIL: RHP Brandon Woodruff (5-3, 4.74 ERA)

Comments tried out his injured finger pre-game (1st game) and it evidently didn't go well.  he may have to do an IL stint.

suzuki to 10d IL (retro 5/27) up...r.gsellman DFA'd

d.smyly "right oblique soreness"

leave it to a.simmons to ground into a home-to-1st double play to kill a bases loaded potential rally.

imagine giving 4m to a guy who had a .223/.283/.274 slash line in 131 games last year.

yes, stellar D...but whatever.  that's the kind of singing you make when you have a team that can actually get you into later innings with leads so you can protect them or a lineup so loaded you don't need to worry about his bat...not the 2022 cubs.

That's the kind of singing I make after smoking a full pack of cigarettes and downing a fifth of cheap whiskey. Think Tom Waits. 

I making a DFA / Trade list:

Hendricks, Norris, Robertson, Simmons, ......

Many more to follow. 

I'll help 

Givens, Martin, Leiter, Miley, Mills, Smyly, Villar, Bote, Ortega

The most important thing the Cubs need to do this year is self-scouting without prejudice, to make sure that when the time comes to add Ruile 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguers and players eligible to be minor league free-agents to the 40, that the Cubs don't identify the wrong prospects for protection, and that they have enough slots on the 40 for all of the prospects they want to protect. To the extent possible, the Cubs must accurately identify who the actual legit best MLB prospects in the system really are, and then make sure to keep them. 

The Cubs can't afford to miss on this, because the way the 2016 World Series team was built relied a lot on other teams making stupid trades and draft decisions, like the Astros selecting Mark Appel instead of Kris Bryant with the 2013 #1 overall pick in the draft, the Padres trading Anthony Rizzo, the Orioles trading Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, the Rangers trading Kyle  Hendricks, Justin Grimm, and Carl Edwards Jr, the A's trading Addison Russell, and the Indians leaving Hector Rondon available for selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Unfortunately, you can't always count on the short-sightedness and stupidity of other organizations to build yourself a championship team.   

So the Cubs will need to build the team from within, much like the direction Dallas Green was headed in 1984-86 before he got canned and Jim Frey took over. If the Cubs can make an opportunistic trade or draft pick here & there, that's fine, but you can't count on other teams doing something stupid. Theo & company were really  astute the way they built the 2016 World Series championship team, but I don't think it could be done again today. Too many people know too much. 

The Cubs can't afford to lose what they have in their farm system right now. They will need as many 40-man roster slots as possible post-2022. One move to clear a valuable 40-man roster slot would be a pre-emptive DFA of Jason Heyward post-2022. It's not like the Cubs couldn't keep Heyward on the MLB roster and ride out his contract through 2023 while the team flounders for another year while waiting for prospects to develop, but it's his slot on the 40-man roster that's the issue. The Cubs are going to need as many 40-man roster slots as possible at the November roster filing deadline, and any dead wood on the 40 must be junked by trade or release by that deadline.

The contract tender date is a couple of weeks after the pre-Rule 5 Draft roster filing deadline, so roster cleaning can't be done by a 12/2 non-tender. As many players as posssible who do not fit into the projected 2024-25 Cubs roster MUST be identified and moved off the 40 by trade or release prior to the November 18th roster filing deadline (two days earlier than normal this year, because November 20th falls on a Sunday).

The 2022 MLB Trade Deadline (which will be August 2nd this year) must be an "Everything Must Go" sale for the Cubs, even moreso than last year. Not just players with expiring contracts, either. The Cubs MLB 40-man roster must be cleared of anybody who is not part of the projected 2024-25 Cubs. As a last resort, if you can't trade a player at the deadline, just release him. The player's 40-man roster slot is more important than keeping a player who is not part of the future. 

This is so well said. You are the best around, Phil.

Astute Phil.


Here's my keep list as of today:

P)Effross, Hughes, Steele, K. Thompson, Swarmer, Marquez, M. Rodriguez, Alzolay, Roberts, Heuer

C) Amaya - I'd re-sign Contreras 

IF) Hoerner, Morel, Rivas

OF) Suzuki, Canario, Velazquez

I'm holding 18 spots on the current 40 assuming self-scouting agrees on these guys and keep Contreras. I see the rest of the current Roster as trade bait/DFA fodder.

How many slots do you see them needing?



Not Phil, of course, but.... the only potential subtraction I'd make is Swarmer. I think if he's still around, he's AAA depth. ManRod's injuries may result in him getting passed by some of the other RHRP. 
I'd maybe add Espinoza and Vizcaino to the P group. Vizcaino being MIA this year might result in him getting passed like ManRod. Higgins, if he hits enough, could be a viable backup catcher in 2024. He's older but backup catchers can stick around well into their 30s. Also, I can't imagine the FO has given up on Madrigal as a meaningful part of the future.

Last but certainly not least.... some of the future core... do what other teams do and they failed so badly to do with the last group and SIGN THEM TO FREAKING EXTENSIONS

I also wanted them to extend some of the 2016 core, but now I think they are better off without having done so. The only guy who has produced this year is Rizzo. Bryant has zero home runs in Colorado​​​​​, for Pete's sake, Javy (as much as I love watching him play) is near the Mendoza line with 3 home runs, and Schwarb's is below.200 again, though he does have 12 dingers. Only 0.2 WAR, per B-Ref. Not a lot to regret there. 

Love every word right there Mr. Phil!!

Well thought out AZ Phil. Given no movement on Willson Contreras contract, I assume he will be moved. Can you update us on your vision of the Cubs 2024 catching projections. I recall some discussion that you outlined possible catching prospects in any Contreras trade. Is that a must given their farm system as is right now?

w.contreras and the astros seem to be an eventual match made in heaven...a guy that hits the ball that hard playing in that ballpark with a team that needs a catcher that can hit...competition should be good for him, though.

the flipside is he's never had a hit in orange juice park in 17 PA.

dude should be the cubs captain...but whatever.

Willson should be a Cub for life. It's nuts they're trading a catcher of his capability even in a non-contention window. And they're long term looking to replace him with Amaya, who looks to me like a second Martin Maldonado and just had Tommy John.

Thanks Phil for linking back to your thoughts on this. That was exactly what I was referring to but couldn't find it today when posting. Have you seen Whitley or Diaz. If you have, what were your impressions. Which would be a better get?

CUBSTER: I saw Yainer Diaz play in the AZL in 2018 and 2019 and I saw Forrest Whitley pitch in the AFL, so I didn't just pick those names randomly. 

Diaz is one of the best young hitters I have ever seen, and he also has a rocket for an arm. The Astros got him from Cleveland in the Myles Straw trade, but they have another catcher (Korey Lee) who happens to be their #1 prospect and he should be MLB-ready by 2023 (he is at AAA right now) so the Contreras impending free-agency shouldn't be a problem for Houston. 

Also, it's not unusual for a club to be more willing to trade a prospect they acquired from another organization (as is the case with Diaz) than someone they signed themselves, so Diaz might be more readily available in a trade than some of the other Astros prospects.   

As for Forrest Whitley, I used the Arrieta comp because like Arrieta, Whitley has been expected to develop into the Astros ace for a while, and it just hasn't happened. Part of it is injuries (sore shoulder, lat strain, 2021 TJS), but he also is known to be somewhat eccentric in his approach to physical conditioning (just like Arrieta), and that can sometimes wear on a club over time, especially if (like Arrieta when he was with the Orioles) he doesn't develop as quickly as expected. 

I don't have any first-hand reason to believe such a trade will happen, but it would seem to make sense for both clubs. The Cubs would probably have to pay some or all of Contreras's remaining 2022 salary (which the Cubs did last year when they traded Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees and Javier Baez to the Mets), allow the Astros to pick the MLB reliever of their choice (probably Robertson), and include a second-tier prospect just outside the Cubs Top 30 (TBD - Astros choice) as part of the deal.   

madrigal activated

can clint fraizer chase balls in the OF down any slower than he does?  ugg.

my bad...thought hughes pitched both games yesterday...

since i'm wasting time, if anyone out there doesn't like christopher morel i'll straight up fight you.  pick a state, region, and vacant field to meet up.  try me.

CRUNCH: This is what I wrote about Christopher Morel back in 2016 and 2018 when he was on nobody's Cubs top prospects list (except mine):

Morel looks like a SS to me

He looks fine at the other positions

But he was the skills to play SS

Let him play there Jed

Phil, you also picked out Nelson Velazquez, who debuted earlier this week and Amaya in that last link. Pretty good prognosticating from four years ago. 

iowa got stomped tonight, but darius hill started his AAA career 2-5 with a homer and single.

he's a non-prospect, but i dont think any team would turn down a reed johnson-like dude even if it's just bench work.

bote went 0-3 with 2 walks.  he yet to demonstrate he can hit, or hit for power when he is hitting (7 hits, 1 double).

David Bote is, for lack of a better word, bad.

And the one position player they were able to extend. 

The Bote contract seemed odd to me, committing $16 million to a guy who obviously never would be a good regular at any one position. I assume that this is a lot more money than he could make doing anything else, and sets him up for life, and good for him. Anyway, it sure looks as if he has been replaced by Morel.

The Cubs probably don't want to make any big decisions based on 61 Morel PAs, and with Suziki on the IL, Heyward will probably be activated and go to RF. When Suziki gets back, things get interesting. All of a sudden Heyward is blocking a legit prospect, and there is nothing to be gained by playing him, even if he plays better. I'm sure the Cubs hate to DFA him, and could stubbornly keep him on the roster for the rest of the season. I suppose they could send Rivas down, make Schwindel the regular 1b, and sub Morel all over the diamond like Zobrist. But boy, I learned about "sunk costs" from the economists, and the big point is that sunk costs are sunk, gone, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. All that matters in rational decision-making is the future, and there is no way keeping Heyward around after Suzuki is back is helping the team. 

dunno about heyward and 2023 (22m owed), but if contreras goes that leaves heyward as the outwardly vocal clubhouse/dugout verteran presence.

heyward's a great teammate and mentor with leadership qualities.

villar and gomes are respected vets, too, but heyward and contreras are leaders and cheerleaders.

crunch, I agree completely about Heyward's leadership, especially on a team bringing youngsters in. I just don't want to see him blocking Morel when Suzuki returns. Hopefully they can figure out a way to keep Morel on the field.

Suzuki-Gomes-Bote-Villar-Herm are still needing to come off IL.

Herm probably gets DFA'd. Gomes sends Higgins down. Villar sends Rivas down. Schwindel and Happ can play 1B. Suzuki probably forces Morel down. No way around it. Bote coming back forces Jed to decide b/w Bote or Frazier. Frazier & Bote have options but both can reject the option and become FAs. 

Our roster gets pretty boring here in maybe at most two weeks. Then we just wait for trades to happen. Nothing we can do about it. Jed wants at least one more trade firesale to basically buy some more prospects. Not a terrible idea. Just not fun to watch.

Rivas is struggling at the plate nowadays. I'd like to see Happ get some 1B time. He's played it before. If he doesn't get traded this yr than our OF is packed. Morel, BDavis, Velazquez, Maldonado & JYoung can all play OF. Not to mention Suzuki. Happ would need to find some time elsewhere. Just a thought.

Bote should be DFAd. There is a 0% chance he rejects his assignment, same goes for if he's optioned. He's not forfeiting that contract. He would never come even mildly close to earning it back.

Wouldn't he keep his contract if he gets optioned and refuses it? It would be like releasing JHey right now. JHey keeps his money. Bote gets his cash regardless. Phil, what's the ruling here?

I think he would forfeit it because it's his choice to go to free agency, not the team's. It might have to do with his service time, but I could be wrong on that. Bote is closer to a Kei Igawa/ Rusney Castillo salary/ refuse assignment situation than he is to Cano. What would be good about an outright is his salary, while still requiring payment, would not count against the team salary cap so long as he is in AAA and off the 40 man. Also, I don't believe he's previously been outrighted, so with it being the first time, I don't believe he has the right of refusal.

All that said, I totally defer to Phil!

DLJ: Because he is signed to a major league contract, David Bote's salary would count against the Cubs CBT threshold even if he is outrighted and remains there through 2024.

Check out Yasmany Tomas's contract history with the Diamondbacks for an example. He signed a long-term MLB deal with the D'backs after fleeing Cuba, but he was a mess defensively and he didn't hit much either, so he was eventually outrighted to AAA. Then he played at AAA for several years because he didn't want to give up his MLB contract & salary, but Tomas's salary counted against the D'backs CBT until the contract expired because he was signed to a major league contract, even though he was on the AAA Reno reserve list.

That would be the same case with David Bote if he is outrighted and accepts the assignment, and then remains on the Iowa reserve list through 2024. That's also why the Cubs would be fine with selecting Bote back to the 40 anytime they need him, because they can just outright him back to AAA when they don't, and maybe he'll get claimed off waivers one of the times or maybe he'll get tired of the elevator ride and elect free-agency (although I very much doubt that would happen). 

And of course Jason Heyward's situation is totally different from David Bote's. Heyward has Article XIX-A rights (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), so he can't be sent to the minors without his consent. So there is no issue with him being outrighted and then either having to accept the assignment or elect free-agency and forfeit what remains of his contract. Heyward doesn't have to make that choice. 

So if the Cubs want to drop Heyward from the 40 before his contract expires post-2023, it would have to be by outright release, and then the Cubs would be on the hook for what remains of his salary. However, if he were to sign a major league deal with another MLB club for the MLB minimum salary after being released by the Cubs and before his contract expires (which is not inconceivable), that pro-rated minimum salary would be subtracted from what the Cubs owe Heyward through 2023, and the Cubs could replace Heyward with a player making the MLB minimum salary with no additional cost to the club. 

As I wrote here recently, Heyward doesn't need to be released before the end of the 2022 season, but they really can't wait until the end of Spring Training 2023 to do it, like the Angels did with Albert Pujols in 2021 and with Justin Upton this year. The Cubs will need to release Heyward by November 18th, because his slot on the 40 will be needed for Rule 5 Draft-eligible players the Cubs will need to add to the 40. They will need his 40-man roster slot. 

BTW, it's entirely possible that Heyward would agree to waive his 10/5 "no trade" and agree to be traded to a contender this year, as long as the Cubs pick-up what remains of his salary minus the MLB minimum salary. Agreeing to a trade would be up to Heyward, but I could see him maybe going back home to Atlanta, or maybe stay in Chicago with the White Sox.

However, if it happens, the Cubs would just be doing him a solid. They wouldn't get anything of value back in the deal, other than Heyward's 40-man roster slot and the MLB minimum salary offset, which they could use to pay for Heyward's replacement on the roster. 

These roster machinations are so detailed and fascinating and I'm very thankful we have you to read through all of it and explain it in such a thorough way. Thanks Phil!

Would you happen to know if the rules on that had changed recently? I thought part of why the Yankees never cut Igawa and Boston never released Rusney Castillo is because if they did, the salary cap would be impacted but so long as they were outrighted to AAA, it wasn't?

childerb3: If David Bote is outrighted he would have the right to elect free-agent (he has Article XX-D rights  because he has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time), but if he does elect free-agency he forfeits the balance of his contract. So it's likely that if Bote is outrighted he would accept the outright assignment and play at Iowa until his contract expires post-2024. Of course the Cubs could bring him back to Chicago anytime they want and then outright him back to Iowa again and again if necessary, up until he has accrued five years of MLB service Time and can't be sent to the minors without his consent.  

The Cubs would probably hope that another club claims Bote off waivers and assumes the contract so that the Cubs can get out from under it, but for that to happen he would have to show he is 100% healthy and he would also have to display a better hit tool and show significant HR power.   

It's not exactly an onerous contract, but the Cubs can probably find a pre-arbitration guy who can do what Bote does for a lot less money. 

I agree that no team probably takes his contract. So, if necessary the Cubs could outright him to Iowa, pay him the money they have to pay regardless, and open up a spot on the 40. This at least keeps Frazier on the roster for a while or perhaps even Morel. But more than likely Frazier

Thanks for clearing that up Mr. AzP

smyly 15d IL...rucker activated and up

n.velaquez optioned to AAA...manuel rodriguez recalled and immediately placed on 60d IL (elbow)...

heyward activated and in the lineup tonight.