Sweet Smell of Successor

The Cubs selected the contracts of LHP Eric Jokisch and C Rafael Lopez from AAA Iowa and added both to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) last week. Both players would have been eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft if they had not been added to an MLB 40-man roster by the November 20th roster-filing deadline, so the Cubs decded to give the two a "cup of coffee" in September, since they apparently had already decided to add both players to their 40-man roster.   

Besides Jokisch and Lopez, #1 pitching prospect C. J. Edwards is the only other Cub minor leaguer eligible for selection in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft who is likely to get added to the MLB 40-man roster by the 11/20 deadline (in fact Edwards is a "lock" to get added), but that doesn't mean the Cubs don't have some decisions to make regarding a number of other players in their minor league system.


At present, there are 26 players in the Cubs organization who are eligible to be minor league free-agents post-2014. While some of the players are clearly "roster filler," player-coaches/mentors, or organizational players, there are a handful (probably all of them pitchers) that should have value to the Cubs in 2015 and (if they become free-agents or if they are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft) probably to other MLB organzations as well.  It will be up to the Cubs to decide how much value each player has to the organization, and for the ones they do like, whether the player should be offered a 2015 Minor League Successor Contract, or perhaps even be added to the MLB 40-man roster.   

Players who are eligible to be Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agents (six-year free-agents and second contract free-agents) can be offered a Minor League Successor Contract anytime between the conclusion of the Minor League regular season and 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series. For those players who decline to sign a Minor League Successor Contract, adding the player to the club's MLB 40-man roster prior to the deadline would be the only way the club can be sure to retain the player into the next season. And of course the player (and the player's agent) know this, giving the player some added leverage when negotiatuing a deal. 

The more-valuable minor league free-agents who sign a Minor League Successor Contract will often get a salary equal to what they would have gotten if they had been added to the MLB 40-man roster (the minor league split contract minimum) plus an NRI to Spring Traning, and sometimes the player will get an "opt-out" (allowing the player to request and receive his release if he is not added to an MLB 40-man roster by a certain date).  

Unfortunately, most potential minor league free-agents who sign a Minor League Successor Contract are not exempt from selection in the Rule 5 Draft. In fact, the last minor leaguer the Cubs selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (RHP Hector Rondon selected by the Cubs from Cleveland in December 2012) and the last Cubs minor leaguer selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (RHP Marcos Mateo selected by Arizona in December 2013) were minor league free-agents who had been re-signed to Minor League Successor Contracts with their organization prior to being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. 

A minor league player can become a free-agent four ways:

1. Outright Release
2. Per Article XX-B of the CBA
3. Per Article XX-D of the CBA
4. Per MLB Rule 55

OUTRIGHT RELEASE
: Unlike for players on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), Outright Release Waivers are not required to release a minor league player. A released minor league player receives two weeks termination pay if he is released during Spring Training or during the minor league season, but the player receives no termination pay if he is released during the off-season before the next season's salary addendum has been added to the player's contract. A minor league player who is injured during the course of Spring Training (Minor League Camp) or the minor league regular season receives two weeks termination pay if he is released no later than the 14th day of his club's regular season, but the injured player receives a full season's salary if he is released after the 14th day of his club's regular season.

ARTICLE XX-B: If an Article XX-B MLB free-agent signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day, and then is either not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or MLB Disabled List by 3 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day, the player automatically receives a $100,000 retention bonus, and the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or an MLB Disabled List by that date.

ARTICLE XX-D: Any MLB player who has accrued at least three years of MLB service time, or who was eligible for Salary Arbitration as a "Super Two" after the previous season, and/or who has been outrighted previously in his career, has the right to be a free-agent if the player is outrighted to the minors. The player can exercise this right upon being outrighted, or (but only in the case of a player who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career) he can opt to defer the right until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season (he is given three days to decide if he is outrighted during Spring Training or the MLB regular season, and he has eight days to make up his mind if he is outrighted during the off-season). If a player eligible to be a free-agent under Article XX-D elects to be a free-agent immediately after being outrighted, the player's contract is terminated and the player receives no termination pay. (Because unsigned players do not receive termination pay, players eligible to be minor league free-agents under Article XX-D who are outrighted during the off-season before being tendered a contract for the following season almost always opt for free-agency immediately). But if the outrighted player accepts the Outright Assignment, the player's existing contract remains in force, and the player can elect free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th. (A player who had the option to elect free-agency upon being outrighted only because he had been eligible for Salary Arbitration as a "Super Two" after the previous season does NOT have the right to defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season). However, an outrighted player who deferred the right to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent until the conclusion of the MLB regular season is NOT eligible to be a free-agent if the player is added back to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season.

MLB RULE 55: Sometimes called a "Six-Year Minor League Free-Agent," an unsigned minor league player is automatically declared a free-agent per MLB Rule 55 if the player has spent all or any part of at least seven separate seasons on a minor league roster (including all or parts of any season spent on Optional Assignment to the minors), and/or if the player has been previously released or non-tendered in his career and his present contract (known as a "second contract" even if it's his third or fourth minor league contract) has expired. For purposes of determining eligibility to be a free-agent, a player does not accrue a minor league season if the player spends the entire season on an MLB Active List, MLB Disabled List(s), and/oror other MLB Inactive List, or if the player spends an entire season on the Restricted List, Disqualified List, Suspended List, Ineligible List, Voluntarily Retired List, and/or Military List. Also, participation in a post-season instructional league, Arizona Fall League, and/or winter league do not count toward a minor league season. Note that a player who ordinarily would have been declared a Rule 55 minor league free-agent is NOT eligible to be a free-agent if the player is either added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or agrees to a minor league successor contract with his previous club by 5:00 PM (Eastern) on October 15th or by 5:00 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series (whichever is later). The deadline for an MLB club to tender a contract to an unsigned minor league player who had previously agreed to a successor contract is January 15th. If an unsigned minor league player is not tendered a contract by January 15th, the player becomes an unrestricted free-agent.

A minor league free-agent can sign a contract with any major league or minor league club (including the player's former club) without any restrictions. A club receives no compensation for losing an Article XX-B, Article XX-D, or MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent.

LAST UPDATED: 9-3-2014

ARTICLE XX-B CUBS MINOR LEAGUE PLAYER
NONE 

ARTICLE XX-D CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT POST-2014:
Marcos Mateo, RHP
Eli Whiteside, C 

MLB RULE 55 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT POST-2014:

SIX-YEAR FREE-AGENT:
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
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)
Yeiker Lovera, RHP (previously released by CLE)
Nate Maldonado, C (previously released by CHC)
Manny Ramirez, OF (previously released by TEX)
Brohiglyn Rivero, RHP (previously released by TB)
Julio Sanchez, RHP (previously released by COL)
Roberto Vahlis, C (previously released by TOR)

The potential post-2014 minor league free-agents who are likely to be the ones the Cubs would most want to retain are all pitchers (probably in this order):  

1. Hunter Cervenka, LHRP (if eligible - TBD)
2. Marcus Hatley, RHRP
3. Starling Peralta, RHRP
4. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHSP
5. Alberto Cabrera, RHRP
6. Marcos Mateo, RHRP
7. Carlos Pimentel, RHSP  

Acquired by the Cubs from the Boston Red Sox in the Marlon Byrd deal in 2012, 24-year old Hunter Cervenka is a legitimate MLB LHRP prospect, and so I doubt that the Cubs will want him to walk away if he is eligible to do so. And if he is not eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2014 (or if he is eligible and signs a 2015 Minor League Successor Contract), he would be a strong candidate to get selected in the Major League Phase of the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the Cubs 40-man roster.

A JC outfielder prior to being drafted in 2006 and one of the last "Draft & Follow" (DNF) picks signed by the Cubs, 25-year old Marcus Hatley was a minor league 6YFA post-2013, but he signed a 2014 Minor League Successor Contract (with an NRI to Spring Training) with the Cubs prior to hitting the free-agent market after last season. He was not selected in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft, and then went on to have a solid 2014 season at AAA Iowa. Hatley had TJS a few years ago, and while he is a hard thrower (mid-90's heater & a power slider), he has battled command issues off & on throughout his career. But he finally found a groove in 2014 and was able to throw strikes more consistently, and he probably would have been given a big league trial in September if it wasn't that the Cubs have so many other RH relievers in Chicago already. But even with a lot of bullpen arms to choose from, Hatley is still the kind of quality arm any organization would like to try and keep around as long as possible, albeit without adding him to the MLB 40-man roster. For the Cubs to do that they would have to sign Hatley to another Minor League Successor Contract, probably with a moderate salary increase at least equal to 40-man roster minor league split contract money and an NRI to Spring Training (even if they risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft by doing so), Whether Hatley would agree to sign another Minor League Successor Contract is TBD, however, since he might feel like he can get a better shot to pitch in the big leagues with another organization. So the only way the Cubs can be sure to retain him would be by placing him on the 40-man roster prior to the deadline (5 PM Eastern on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series).

Now 24-years old, Starling Peralta was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Major League Phase of the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft, and while he impressed the D'backs in Spring Training 2013, he was just too raw to be able to spend a full season on an MLB 25-man roster to fulfill Rule 5 requirements. So when the Cubs had a chance to reclaim Peralta in March 2013. they did. And he still is raw even now, having yet to reach AA after seven minor league seasons. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have "upside" and the potential to pitch in the big leagues. It's just that he isn't the type of pitcher to whom most MLB clubs would want to allocate a 40-man roster slot at this point in his career. So a 2015 Minor League Successor Contract for 40-man roster minor league split contract money and possibly an NRI to Spring Training would be a likely offer. Whether Peralta would accept such an offer from the Cubs is unknown.  

Like Marcus Hatley, 25-year old Korean Dae-Eun Rhee was a minor league 6YFA post-2013 and (also like Hatley) he aigned a 2014 Minor League Successor Contract with the Cubs, but without the NRI to Spring Training that Hatley got. Rhee started the 2014 season in the AA Tennessee starting rotation, before receiving a mid-season promotion to AAA Iowa. Rhee throws a nasty splitter, but he had just a so-so season in 2014. However, he pitched what may have been the best game of his career his last start at Iowa on Labor Day, and that may have kept the Cubs interested enough to want to try and bring him back in 2015 on another Minor League Successor Contract  But as is the case with all potential minor leagure free-agents, there is nothing a club can do if a player declines a Minor League Successor Contract offer, other than to add the player to the club's 40-man roster, which might not be something the Cubs would want to do with Rhee.

25-year old Alberto Cabrera was on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster 2010-2014 and he was optioned to the minors 2011-13, before being outrighted to Iowa at the end of 2014 Spring Training. He did have a couple of opportunities to pitch in the big leagues with the Cubs (32 games in 2012-13), and while he did show occasional flashes of upside, he was ultimately unable to establish himself as a major league pitcher before running out of minor league options. Still, Cabrera did pitch well as a "swing man" on the I-Cubs pitching staff in 2014, and while the Cubs likely wouldn't want to give him back his slot on their MLB 40-man roster at this time, they probably would like to bring him back on a minor league deal in 2015. The typical offer clubs make to minor league free-agents they want to retain (a Minor League Successor Contract for 40-man roster minor league split contract money and an NRI to Spring Training) would probably be the offer the Cubs make to Cabrera, but like the other Cubs minor league FA pitchers listed above, Cabrera might look at the Cubs crowded bullpen and decide to try his luck with another organization.  

Acquired from the Cincinnati Reds for OF Buck Coats in 2007, 30-year old RHRP Marcos Mateo has spent seven seasons in the Cubs organization (including 44 MLB games in 2010-11), but his career has been sidetracked by TJS and back issues. But he had a fine season at Iowa in 2014 and probably would have a legitimate shot at making the Cubs 2015 Opening Day MLB bullpen if he were to remain in the Cubs organization. It's just that at his age, he is unlikely to score a slot on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2014, and after spending so many years in the Cubs system, he might not be interested in signing another Miinor League Successor Contract at this stage in his career. Mateo was a minor league 6YFA post-2013 and the Cubs did sign him to a 2014 Minor League Successor Contract with an NRI to Spring Training last October, but then he pitched "lights out" in the Dominican Winter League and got himself selected by the Diamondbacks in the December 2013 Rule 5 Draft. Mateo did not make the D'backs Opening Day 25-man roster, however, and so the Cubs were able to reclaim him when they were given the opportunity. Because he had been outrighted previously in his career, Mateo is an Article XX-D player and had the right to elect free-agency when he was reclaimed by the Cubs (players selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft must be outrighted to the minor league club from which they were drafted if reclaimed), but he opted to accept the outright assignment back to Iowa and defer free-agency until after the 2014 season. So unlike potential Rule 55 minor league free-agents who have to wait until after the World Series to be declared free-agents, Mateo can file for free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th. Even if he does not file for free-agency at that time, he would be automatically declared an MLB Rule 55 6YFA at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series if he is not added to an MLB 40-man roster or signs a 2015 Minor League Successor Contract by that time.    

The Cubs signed 24-year old Carlos Pimentel as a minor league 6YFA post-2013 after Pimentel had spent seven seasons in the Texas Rangers organization. Even though he had never pitched above AA, Pimientel was considered one of the top Rule 55 minor league free-agents available post-2014, and he got an NRI to Spring Training and (probably) substantial 40-man roster minor league split contract money when he signed. Pimentel had an impressive Spring Training both with the Cubs and then at Minor League Camp, before securing a slot in the Iowa Cubs starting rotation at the start of the season. He eventually morphed into a "swing-man" (spot starter & long relief), and generally did a nice job, although he appeared to begin to wear down the second half of the season. Still, he's only 24 and he definitely has some upside, so if the Cubs can bring him back on a Minor League Successor Contract in 2015 (with or without another NRI to Spring Traning), they almost certainly will.      

 

Comments

Excellent. Another TCR article for lazy Chicago sports writers to reference!

Actually it's possible that they are too lazy to even read/comprehend all of the subtlety. It should be frickin' required reading.

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  • Cubster 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Lefty Matz to Cardinals. 4/44. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 15 min ago (view)

    With the CBA expiring on December 1st, MLB owners and the MLBPA have jointly agreed to move the contract tender date up from Thursday December 2nd to Tuesday November 30th (that's a week from today). 

    Then (presumably) the lock-out will start the next day (Wednesday). 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 2 hours ago (view)

    Not that TJS is ever necessarily a good thing, but taking a year off from catching could give Miguel Amaya a chance to work on his hitting.

    His glove & arm were probably a year ahead of his bat coming into 2021, so once he gets going again hopefully he will be able to spend a significant part of his rehab working in the cages. 

    Also, although he won't be able to throw for a while, he should be able to work on his receiving during the summer, once he is cleared to resume non-throwing baseball activities.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 2 hours ago (view)

    CUBSTER: Unless you consider Erick Castillo and Tyler Payne as legit contenders to be the Cubs back-up catcher in 2022, the Cubs have no catcher who is projected to eventually play in MLB anywhere near MLB ready.

     

  • Cubster 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    With Amaya's 2022 year as a catcher essentially an non-factor and Robinson Chirinos and Austin Romaine again free agents, It looks like any rumors of moving Willson Contreras will go quiet. At least Chirinos could hit (for a backup catcher). 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have released LHP Chris Allen, 1B Shendrik Apostel, INF Matt Burch, INF Widimer Joaquin, RHP Garrett Kelly, RHP Marco Prieto,  RHP Jorge Remon, RHP Dawel Rodriguez, and OF Vance Vizcaino, so the off-season Cubs Minor League Domestic Reserve List is now at 169 (21 slots are open).  

    Six of the nine players who were released (Allen, Apostel, Joaquin, Kelly, Remon, and Vizcaino) were Rule 5 Draft-eligible, and all six had been left off the Iowa Reserve List when rosters were filed last Friday. 

     

  • Cubster 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    sorry, posted in other thread.

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 3 hours ago (view)

    Also, Justin Steele gets a 4th minor league option in 2022 (must be used in 2022). 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 4 hours ago (view)

    W-RAT: Of all the TJS rehab types, a catcher TJS rehab is probably most similar to a pitcher's because of the laser pinpoint rifle throws a catcher needs to make to 2nd base.

    So I would expect Amaya will be able to DH by mid-season (hitting shouldn't be a problem by then), and then (hopefully) be able to throw normally in games (as a catcher) at post-season Instructs and then maybe in the AFL, with 2023 Spring Training being when he should be 100%. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 5 hours ago (view)

    TIM: Yes, except a position player only gets a maximum of 20 days on a minor league injury rehab assignment, so the 30 extra days allowed for a position player rehabbing from TJS would mean a maximum of 50 days, whereas it would be a maximum of 60 days for a pitcher (the original 30 days that pitchers get plus the additional 30 days in the form of three 10-day increments). And this also only applies to players on an MLB IL. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 days 5 hours ago (view)

    DSJ: Exactly. Even though he was just acquired in a trade, the Cubs still might opt to non-tender Ramirez on 12/2, that is, as long as he goes along with the plan. I doubt that the Cubs would non-tender him if he declines (in advance) to sign a 2022 minor league contract.  

     

  • crunch 3 days 7 hours ago (view)

    well...that's one hell of a forearm strain.

     

  • tim815 3 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Arizona Phil. Would Amaya, as a catcher, be eligible for the TJS exemption?

     

  • crunch 3 days 9 hours ago (view)

    w.franco (rays) extend 11y/185m

    not bad for a guy with 1/10th of a season service time.

     

  • Wrigley Rat 3 days 9 hours ago (view)

    Miguel Amaya to have Tommy John surgery. Will likely miss most of next season. (I speculate that he could maybe DH a bit in the second half and throw towards August.)

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    When you add in the arb-eligibility, that's gotta make Ramirez a real contender for Hermosillo's "non-tender poster boy" title