Post-2018 Off-Season Officially Begins

The World Series is over, so the MLB off-season has begun.

Cubs Article XX-B MLB free-agents RHP Jesse Chavez, LHP Jorge de la Rosa, LHP Jaime Garcia, INF Daniel Murphy, C Bobby Wilson, and LHP Justin Wilson were automatically removed from the Cubs MLB Reserve List at 9 AM (Eastern) today, so the 40-man roster now stands at 34 (six slots are open). 

There are five other players on the 40 with various types of 2019 contract options who could become Article XX-B free-agents in the coming days (no later than Friday, although many contract option deadlines are prior to Friday), including LHP Cole Hamels (club option), OF Jason Heyward (player opt-out option), RHP Brandon Kintzler (club option, or a player option if club option is declined), LHP Jose Quintana (club option), and RHP Pedro Strop (club option), although only Hamels is likely to actually become a FA. 

The Cubs will retain exclusive negotiating rights to their MLB free-agents until 5 PM (Eastern) on Friday, at which point the players will be free to sign a 2019 major league or minor league contract with any MLB club (including potentially re-signing with the Cubs). 5 PM Eastern on Friday is also the deadline for MLB clubs to extend a Qualifying Offer ($17.9M one-year guaranteed contract) to an Article XX-B FA who spent the entire previous season in the organization, but none of the four Cubs who are eligible to receive a QO post-2018 (Heyward, Quintana, Strop, and J. Wilson) are likely to receive one (and it's unlikely that Heyward, Quintana, and Strop will even make it to free-agency, Heyward because no way he opts-out of his contract, and Quintana and Strop because the Cubs will almost certainly exercise their club options to retain both).   

Also, I would expect at least two or maybe three players who aren't free-agents to be outrighted off the 40 (if not claimed off waivers by another club) by Friday, most likely INF Mike Freeman and C-1B Taylor Davis and possibly RHP Allen Webster. I think the Cubs will probably non-tender OF Terrance Gore and RHP Justin Hancock on 11/30 and then wait two weeks and try and sign both of them to 2019 minor league contracts (for "40-man roster money" and an NRI to Spring Training) after the Rule 5 Draft so that they can be removed from the 40 without having to pass through waivers and without being subject to selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Of course in order for that to happen, the player has to agree to the arrangement in advance (and the player could simply decline).   

Friday at 5 PM (Eastern) is the deadline to activate players from the MLB 60-day DL (in the case of the Cubs, that would be RHP Yu Darvish, RHP Justin Hancock, RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP Drew Smyly, and OF Mark Zagunis), and it is also the deadline to either add a player who is eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league FA to the 40-man roster or sign the player to a 2019 minor league successor contract (otherwise the player will be declared a free-agent). Among Cubs minor leaguers who are eligible to be a minor league free-agent, the one most-likely to get added to the 40 by the Friday deadline is LHP Kyle Ryan. 

Then Tuesday November 20th is the deadline to add minor league players to the MLB 40-man roster in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft (which takes place this year on December 13th), and Friday November 30th (moved-up from December 2nd because 12/2 falls on a Sunday) is the date MLB contracts are tendered to unsigned players on the 40-man roster. (An unsigned player not tendered a 2019 contract on 11/30 becomes an unrestricted free-agent, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club including the player's former club). As I mentioned previously, non-tendering a player on 11/30 and then re-signing him to a minor league contract would allow the Cubs to remove the player from the 40-man roster without having to risk losing the player off waivers. Also, non-tendering a player and then re-signing him to a major league contract is a way to cut a player's salary more than the maximum-allowable 20%.  

In addition, signing a salary arbitration-eligible player prior to the tender deadline (or non-tendering the player if the club and the player cannot agree on a contract) is a way for a club to avoid the possibility of having to go to salary arbitration with the player.  

An unsigned player under club control who has accrued at least three but less than six years of MLB Service Time is automatically eligible for salary arbitration. 

Also, any unsigned player with at least two years but less than three years of MLB Service Time who accrued at least 86 days of MLB Service Time during the previous season can qualify for salary arbitration as a so-called "Super Two" if the player is among the top 22% in MLB Service Time of players in that group. 
NOTE: The "Super Two" cut-off for 2019 (post-2018) is 2+134 MLB Service Time. 

CUBS SALARY ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE PLAYERS POST-2018: (last updated 10-25-2018)
Javier Baez, INF
Kris Bryant, INF
Carl Edwards Jr, RHP ("Super Two")
Kyle Hendricks, RHP 
Tommy LaStella, INF
Mike Montgomery, LHP
Addison Russell, INF
Kyle Schwarber, OF

If a club and a player eligible for salary arbitration cannot agree on a contract, the player can request the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to file for salary arbitration. The MLBPA is responsible for delivering all requests for salary arbitration to the MLB Labor Relations Department (MLB LRD) on the Tuesday immediately prior to the Friday that falls during the week January 10-16. Once salary arbitration has been requested, the player submits his desired salary to the MLBPA, the club submits its salary offer to the MLB LRD, and the MLBPA and MLB LRD exchange the two figures on the Friday that falls during the week January 10-16. The MLBPA and MLB LRD then schedule a hearing with a three-person arbitration panel. Hearings are held on various dates during the first three weeks of February.

The club's offer must be at least the MLB minimum salary, and, in most cases, must be at least 80% of the player's previous year's salary and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back. However, if the player received a raise in excess of 50% by a salary arbitration panel the previous season, a 20% maximum salary reduction from the previous season and a 30% maximum salary reduction from two seasons back does not apply, and the club only has to offer at least the MLB minimum salary.

After arbitration has been requested, the player and the club can continue to negotiate back & forth, and the player can withdraw from the process any time up until the hearing. And in fact this frequently happens, as the player and the club will often agree to just "split the difference" (something the panel cannot do). If the matter does go to a hearing, the arbitration panel must choose either the club's offer or the player's figure.

Win or lose, the player is awarded a standard one-year MLB contract with no "minor league split" salary or incentive/performance bonuses. Also, the contract is not guaranteed, so if the player is released during Spring Training, the club would only owe the player 30 days or 45 days salary as termination pay, depending on when the player is released. (A player on an MLB 40-man roster receives 100% of what remains of his salary if he is released during the regular season).
NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player is awarded a contract by an arbitration panel and then is subsequently released by his club prior to or during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games. 

Comments

so...

besides a random pen arm or 2, what could the cubs even be in the market for?

they have d.smyly and y.darvish ready to join lester, Q, hendricks in the rotation.

they seem to be set at every fielding position with a quality bat to slot in (though they didn't play like it for most of the second half of last year).

trades, or attempted FA pickups precluding trades could make things a bit more clear, but as of now i wouldn't be shocked to see a few minor signings and maybe some extensions locking up in-house talent.

It seems like this team most needs a top of the rotation arm every offseason. I don't think they'll get it this year, but that's still the biggest way for them to improve.

The Brewers adding OF Tyrone Taylor to their MLB Reserve List yesterday is an example of a club adding a player to the 40 who otherwise would have been a minor league 6YFA at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series. 

Just like the Brewers adding OF Tyrone Taylor to their MLB 40-man roster to keep him from becoming a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA, the Baltimore Orioles have added RHRP Brandon Kline to their MLB 40-man roster for the same reason. (Kline was the Orioles 2nd round draft pick in 2012 out of UVA and was also a one-time Orioles Top 10 prospect, but he has yet to get past AA). 

These moves occur when a player who is eligible to be a minor league free-agent declines to sign a minor league successor contract but the club does not want to lose the player as a minor league FA. The Cubs did this post-2016 with RHP Jose Rosario and post-2017 with RHP Matt Carasiti (both of whom would have been minor league free-agents if they had not been added to the 40).  

WARNING: This is purely an off-season hot-stove thought experiment.

So even trading a bad contract for a bad contract, what could the Cubs actually get for Tyler Chatwood? 

Here's one possibility that comes to mind... 

CUBS TRADE: 
Ian Happ, OF-IF 
Tyler Chatwood, RHSP 
Brian Duensing, LHRP 

CUBS GET: 
Wil Meyers, 1B-LF-RF
Craig Stammen, RHRP 
Travis Jankowski, OF (4th OF)

PLAYER CONTRACTS: 
Happ is under club control through the 2023 season. He is an auto-renewal (pre-arbitration) player right now so he will get somewhere around $650K in 2019 (MLB minimum salary goes up to $575K in 2019), but he will likely be eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" post-2019 (for the 2020 season) and then will continue to be arbitration eligible for three more seasons after that (2021-23) until he becomes a free-agent (presuming he isn't signed to a contract extension in the meantime). 
Chatwood is signed through the 2020 season. He gets $12.5M in 2019 and $13M in 2020. AAV of contract is $12.67M.  
Duensing is signed through 2019 with a $3.5M salary in 2019. AAV of contract is $3.5M. 

Myers is signed to a six-year $83M contract that runs through the 2023 season. He makes only $3M in 2019 (also receives $15M signing bonus payable in $5M installments each January 2017-19), but his salary jumps to $20M each season 2020-23 (club option with $1M buy-out for 2023). AAV of contract is $13.83M   
Stammen is signed through 2019 and his salary in 2019 is $2.25M with an additional $1M in potential performance bonuses (which he reached in 2018). AAV of contract right now is $2.75M (but could be $3.25M if performance bonuses are reached in 2019).  
Jankowski is under club control through the 2022 season and is eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" post-2018 (likely 2019 salary in vicinity of $1.5M). 

So the AAV of the contracts balance out almost exactly. This means the Cubs will not be adding or subtracting payroll AAV from this trade. 

Looking past the AAV of the salaries (which matters a lot to the Cubs but not much to the Padres because the Cubs are very close to the CBT "luxury tax" threshold and needless-to-say the Padres are not), the Padres would be adding about $16.65M in actual 2019 payroll (salaries) and the Cubs would be taking back about $7.25M in actual 2019 payroll (presuming the Padres pay the third $5M installment of the Myers signing bonus). So the difference is about $9.5M (essentially the difference between the 2019 salaries of Chatwood and Myers), with the Padres paying that extra amount.  

Then in 2020, the Cubs would be on the hook for the Myers $20M salary while the Padres would be responsible for Chatwood's $13M salary, plus Happ would be eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" (salary TBD) and Jankowski would be eligibile for arbitration for the second time (salary TBD). So even if Happ and Jankowski make about the same salary in 2020, the Cubs pay $7M more than the Padres (the difference between the 2020 salaries of Chatwood and Myers). 

At this point, the Padres will have paid about $2.5M more in salaries through the 2020 season than they would have if they did not make the trade.      

But then beginning in 2021 and continuing through the 2022 season, the Padres are completely out from under the Chatwood contract, while the Cubs are paying Myers $40M 2021-22 (plus the $1M club option buy out for 2023). That's a flat-out $41M savings for the Padres in 2021-23 payroll (offset by whatever Happ and Jankowski make in arbitration 2021-23). But the Cubs are not adding AAV from this trade. It stays the same as it was in 2018 even when Myers is making $20M per season 2020-22. 

So while the Padres would be paying about $9.5M more in payroll in 2019, they get $7M in salary reduction in 2020, and then as much as $20M in salary reduction each season 2021-22 (the $20M salary they would not have to pay Myers each season, offset by whatever they are paying Happ). 

PLAYER VALUE: 
As far as the actual player value of the two main pieces of the trade are concerned, Myers really has no place to play on the Padres. Hosmer plays 1st base and will for many years, and Renfroe and Reyes are the corner outfielders and both are (like Myers) RH hitters. The Pads tried Myers at 3B in 2018 but he struggled defensively at that position. Myers is really just a 1B-LF-RF guy. Conversely, Happ is an athletic and versatile player, and while he is not a Gold Glove caliber defender at any position, he has the versatility to play wherever he might be needed and hit anywhere in the batting order.   

With the Cubs, Myers (who will be just 28 in December) could play RF against RH pitchers (with Heyward in CF and Schwarber in LF) and LF against LHP (with Almora in CF and Heyward in RF). Myers also provides legitimate insurance at 1B in case Rizzo gets hurt and misses time. And Myers hits LHP and RHP about the same. He doesn't need to be platooned. He also can be an emergency third catcher if Schwarber gets traded (Myers was a catcher in HS and in his first two seasons in pro ball). And of course Myers was one of Maddon's guys in Tampa Bay.

Chatwood and Duensing would be purely payroll offsets (salary dumps) as far as the Cubs are concerned, but the Padres are in the same position the Cubs were in 2012-14 when they signed guys like Edwin Jackson and Kevin Gregg while their prospects were metriculating and percolating in the minors, which is to say the Padres can afford to give the ball to Chatwood every 5th day and work Duensing out of the bullpen, with the possibility that one or both could conceivably rebound such that the Padres could possibly move one or the other (or both) in a trade at some point in 2019. And if not, no great loss.   

Meanwhile, Stammen (who will be 35 in 2019) has been one of the more-reliable relievers in baseball over the past couple of seasons (post-TJS in 2015). He's not a closer but he is used in high-leverage late-inning situations. He throws strikes (he allowed only 17 walks in 79 IP in 2018), racks up strikeouts (10.0 K/9 in 2018), and he is an extreme ground ball pitcher (he allowed just three HR in 79 IP in 2018). And while Petco Park is considered to be a "pitcher's park," Stammen actually has better numbers on the road than he does at home over the past two seasons. Obviously this part of the trade is just a one-year thing, but Stammen is a bullpen upgrade over Duensing. 

Jankowski is a prototypical LH-hitting "4th OF." He has above-average speed and can play all three OF positions. While there might not be room for him on the Cubs 25-man roster in 2019, he can be optioned to the minors (he has one minor league option left) and be available at Iowa in case an outfielder goes on the DL April-August, and then he can get a call-up in September. His value might be greater in 2020-22 depending on future roster configuration.  

Get it done Phil. Looks good. I am too old to watch another two years of Walkwood.

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  • crunch 2 hours 30 min ago (view)

    Dale Murphy @DaleMurphy3

    Last night, my son was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet while peacefully protesting for justice for George Floyd. His story is not unique. Countless others have also experienced this use of excessive police force while trying to have their voices heard.

    Dale Murphy @DaleMurphy3

     

  • BobbyD 3 hours 35 min ago (view)

    But he has vicious dogs ready to kill the nig***. Oh wait, thugs. He's a real man. 

     

  • Cubster 7 hours 54 min ago (view)

    "this idea isn't a proposal at all and may actually be a measure that is forced into action by the league if the two sides can't sort out the financial details for a longer season."

    MLBPA: Over our dead bodies. Followed by Trump sending in the military to force ballplayers and fans to perform like puppets on strings with fans to yell (and cough and sneezing) at the umpires. Ah, baseball before Jackie Robinson. The Trump Republican Party: Bring back the Cheating/Pandemic  1919 White only - White Sox. Say it ain't so, Joe.

     

  • Hagsag 8 hours 4 min ago (view)

    Trump waiving a bible in front of the church is a total disgrace.

     

  • crunch 17 hours 54 min ago (view)

    ...but now there's this...

    "According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Major League Baseball views a season of around 50 games as a "last resort" option should there be no agreement with the MLBPA.

     

  • crunch 20 hours 39 min ago (view)

    Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
    Major League Baseball intends to propose a shorter season in which they would pay players a full prorated share of their salaries, sources told ESPN. The league believes the late March agreement allows it to set the schedule, and that this would fulfill players’ pro rata desire.

     

  • JustSayin' 20 hours 47 min ago (view)

    Minor League Baseball makes the cover of SI!  Two years ago, I would have been elated.  Today, it's depressing (like the article.)

     

  • BobbyD 23 hours 55 min ago (view)

    Crunch, thanks. I can be a jerk at times, but you bailed me out. Btw I'm the whitest white boy (who grew up next to Wrigley and also worked at my dad's warehouse next to Cabrini Green). I'm truly ashamed of this president. I don't believe anyone sane wants more of him. Go Cubs!! I miss Bobby Dernier's first home run against the Padres. 

     

  • Cubster 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    MLBTR has an update on the latest owner's revision proposal. 

     

  • Cubster 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    'we have a donald trump problem, but he may be a highly advanced and dangerous symptom rather than the actual disease.'

    Surely true, dear Crunch. Trump has emboldened the ugly fact that America's cruel underbelly is still racism and police brutality that forwards that original sin. 

    America NEEDS its HEROES.

     

  • Cubster 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    if he does die by "suicide", I would blame Bill Barr and look into a real conspiracy.

     

  • Cubster 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    welcome to an unwelcome June 1st.

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    November 3, vote!

     

  • George Altman 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Yes, many players are millionaires too. However, a good percentage of MLB Owners are billionaires. If there's no MLB in 2020 that's on 30 owners, not the players no matter how the Press spins things. 

     

  • George Altman 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Well said, Crunch. #Resistance 

     

  • crunch 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    i'm not a fan of this administration.  i'm not a fan of someone holding office who's rise to political prominence involved insisiting, with proof he clamed, that the current elected president at the time was not a citizen of the United States.

    we watched as state after state was slowly "won over" by promises of keeping out muslims and hispanics as the most important issue that could help elevate the state of our country.