Navigating the Off-Season Roster

5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series (which was Sunday 11/1 this season) is an important deadline for several reasons. 

You already know about certain unsigned minor leaguers being declared second-contract or 6YFA on that date/time, but it is also the deadline for outrighting certain players. 

This is why you saw so many players get outrighted by MLB clubs prior to that date/time. 

Any player on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who is not eligible to elect free-agency if outrighted (players on the 40 who are eligible to elect free-agency must have Article XX-D or Article XIX-A status, meaning the player either has been outrighted previously in his career or the player has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time or the player qualifies as a "Super Two" player) but who would have been declared a Rule 55 minor league second-contract or 6YFA this past Sunday if it wasn't that he was on an MLB 40-man roster at the time cannot be sent outright to the minors unless and until the player has signed a 2021 MLB contract or until the player agrees (in advance) to sign a 2021 minor league contract. 

Since MLB contracts are not tendered until 12/2 (that's the MLB contract tender date) and since 2020 MLB contracts cannot be renewed until March 1st, a player in this class is usually advised by his agent not to sign a contract for 2021 until the player reports to Spring Training in February. That way, the player cannot be outrighted to the minors during the off-season (after this past Sunday). 

Players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who cannot be sent outright to the minors without the player's permission during the off-season are: 

Javier Baez 
Kris Bryant 
Yu Darvish 
Kyle Hendricks 
Jason Heyward 
Craig Kimbrel 
Anthony Rizzo 
Kyle Schwarber 
Ryan Tepera 
Dan Winkler 

Players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who can be sent outright to the minors but can elect free-agency after being outrighted:  

Albert Almora 
Victor Caratini 
Willson Contreras 
Ian Happ 
Jose Martinez 
Colin Rea 
Kyle Ryan 
Rowan Wick (was outrighted previously in his career)

Players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who cannot be sent outright to the minors until the player either signs a 2021 MLB contract or agrees (in advance) to sign a 2021 minor league contract: 

Jason Adam 
Adbert Alzolay 
Dillon Maples  
Alec Mills 
Justin Steele 
Duane Underwood Jr 
Ildemaro Vargas 
In addition, any minor league player who has accrued less than three years of MLB Service Time, who is eligible for selection in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, and who had his contract selected and was added to the MLB 40-man roster after August 31st (it was after August 15th in previous seasons) and prior to the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, cannot be sent outright to the minors until 20 days prior to 2021 MLB Opening Day. This is called a "Draft-Excluded Player." 

Briailyn Marquez, LHP 

Also, any Rule 5 Draft-eligible  minor league player with less than three years of MLB Service Time who is added to the 40 by the 11/20 roster filing deadline will have Draft-Excluded Status as well (these players still TBD). 

So this means that very few players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster can be outrighted to the minors during the off-seasson (after last Sunday) without restriction. 

The only ones who can be outrighted throughout the off-season without any restriction (other than the possibility that the player might get claimed off waivers) are: 

Miguel Amaya 
David Bote (has Rule 55 Status but is signed to a multi-year contract) 
Nico Hoerner 
Tyson Miller 
James Norwood 
Manuel Rodriguez 
Max Strock
Brad Wieck  

In addition, even if the player is one of the eight with "no rrestriction" listed above, an injured player cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers and be sent outright to the minors after 11/20 and up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day unless the player accrued no MLB Service Time in 2020. The only such player on the list above is Miguel Amaya. 

And since Norwood, Rodriguez, and Wieck ended the 2020 season on the MLB 60-day IL, there may be issues with the player being medically cleared so that he can be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers during the off-season after 11/20. (Both Rodriguez and Wieck are active at AZ Instructs, and Rodriguez has even been pitching in AZIL games, while Wieck has thrown "live" BP only).   
So that doesn't leave the Cubs much 40-man roster wiggle room during the off-season if they need to open up additional roster slots for MLB free-agents, trades, waiver claims, and/or Rule 5 Draft picks.  

And that's why the MLB contract tender date (December 2nd) is so important.  

Players who cannot be outrighted during the off-season or who can elect free-agency if outrighted can be released at any time (but the player could be claimed off Outright Release Waivers, although a player claimed off Outright Release Waivers can reject the claim and elect free-agency, and once released the player cannot return to that club's MLB 40-man roster until May 15th), but non-tendering the player on 12/2 does not expose the player to waivers - AND - the player can be re-signed by the same club to a minor league contract (normally after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, so that the player would not be eligible for selection) and can be added back to the MLB 40-man roster prior to May 15th (perhaps by Opening Day if the player gets an NRI to MLB Spring Training and pitches or plays well enough to make the Opening Day MLB roster).    

So while the 12/2 contract tender date is often presented as the deadline to offer or decline to offer a contract to arbitration-eligible players, it actually isn't just about tendering or non-tendering arbitration-eligible players. 

It's also very important as the one off-season "roster oasis" as far as a club being able to remove a pre-arbitration (auto-renewal) player from the MLB 40-man roster who otherwise cannot be removed from the 40 during the off-season, except by Outright Release. 


I expect the Cubs to make a lot of roster moves during the off-season. 

I expect several non-tenders on 12/2 (they non-tendered Addison Russell and Danny Hultzen last 12/2, although they re-signed Hultzen to a 2020 minor league contract after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft). waiver claims (like C. D. Pelham last off-season) and minor trades (like acquiring Jharel Cotton for cash, the Tony Kemp for Alfonso Rivas trade, the Clayton Daniel for Casey Sadler deal, and the Jhonny Pereda for Travis Lakins trade last off-season), one or two Rule 5 selections (like Trevor Megill last December), and maybe a minor FA signing of players non-tendered by other organizations on 12/2 (like Dan Winkler, Ryan Tepera, and Steven Souza Jr last off-season).   

But to do that, the Cubs need to leave multiple 40-man roster slots open during the off-season (especially after 12/2 when they will no longer be able to easily remove players from the 40). 

For example, last off-season the Cubs acquired RHRP Travis Lakins from the Boston Red Sox for a PTBNL (turned out be C Jhonny Pereda) on 1/21 and then lost Lakins off waivers to the Baltimore Orioles ten days later after they signed FA OF Steven Souza and needed a slot on the 40 for him. And then Lakins ended up having a really nice year out of the Orioles bullpen, and the Cubs lost Pereda on top of it. 

That's why I believe the Cubs will add no more than three Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguers to the 40 on 11/20 (and right now I would say those three will most-likely be RHSP Cory Abbott, INF Christopher Morel, and C-INF P. J. Higgins).  

is c.morel injured right now?  i may have missed it, but i don't recall him playing in a while.

CRUNCH: Christopher Morel isn't injured. He participates fully in BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills. He just isn't playing in games. That could be an indication that he is altering his swing and/or approach at the plate, and when players are doing that they usually don't play in games until they have mastered the change(s). 

I believe Ed Howard IV, Edmond Americaan, and Fabian Pertuz might be doing the same thing.

Felix Stevens was working in the cages with coaches for about three weeks before he finally started playing in games last week. (Stevens is a big dude ex-RHP from Cuba with plus-power and a plus-arm from RF). 

Jared Young (lower body) and Yohendrick Pinango (shoulder?) are definitely injured, though, They both got hurt running the bases (Young) or sliding into a base (Pinango) in games a week or so ago  (I can't remember which games). 

thanks phil, and thanks for the update + musings on the other guys.

rizzo wins a gold glove...only cub.

Javy won a gold glove as well. 

my bad, thanks.  crazy it's only his 1st...he should have won last year at the very least.

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  • cubbies.4ever 5 hours 43 min ago (view)

    Still haven't seen/heard if Cubs signed 19th rd Daniel Avitia, the last of the unsigned or declined.


  • crunch 5 hours 55 min ago (view)

    imagine he'll go into indie ball somewhere and hope he doesn't end up like matt harrington.


  • Sonicwind75 6 hours 20 min ago (view)

    So is Kumar going "pro" by taking a KBO contract next season or something like that or does he just work out for a year?  Not sure what the rules are for a player in his situation.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 9 hours 12 min ago (view)

    Good. Suck it Mets


  • crunch 10 hours 19 min ago (view)

    mets fail to sign k.rocker.

    at the time it was considered a hell of a pick when he fell so far (11th pick).  he was considered a top-5 pick for most of the year, #1 for a chunk of it.  his medicals (elbow) gave the mets pause offering him slot value.  his agent, boras, says he's healthy.

    he will not return to vandy and will go "pro"...he returns to the draft next year and the mets get a compensation 11th pick in round 1 next season.


  • crunch 10 hours 58 min ago (view)

    rizzo, baez, and bryant all homered in their 1st game with their new team.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 11 hours 31 min ago (view)

    Winning very much to a backseat to profits. I would imagine it always kinda was that way, but it became very obvious after the title. I think when ownership saw Darvish struggle year one, that was that, no more free agent spending. And never adjusted after it became clear Darvish was back starting midway through year two.


  • Charlie 11 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Ownership absolutely decided sometime after 2016 that fans owed them and not the other way atound.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 11 hours 50 min ago (view)

    To be fair they also did a good job bringing in talent to the system that they were able to use to make trades. And a few solid signings such as Lester and Zobrist.

    I think part of it was the hunger mostly vanished after the title and things needed to be switched up to kick people in the ass a tad. Add a level of being hamstrung by Heyward deal, no one coming up to replace the lost farm system talent or aging players, no one but Rizzo and Hendricks signing extensions, and here we are


  • crunch 11 hours 52 min ago (view)

    HUGE standing O for bryant.  they're loving it.


  • Cubster 12 hours 17 min ago (view)

    The Chicago Ortegas


  • crunch 12 hours 17 min ago (view)


    who though we'd have "the ortega game" today?  alright, then.


  • Cubster 12 hours 41 min ago (view)

    Rizzo leading off for Yanks today


  • crunch 12 hours 42 min ago (view)

    the cubs had years of 1st round picks gained by tanking do well and they got very lucky with the arrietta/strop trade.  strop is especially underappreciated in that trade.  theo obviously wanted rizzo badly, and made the right call there.  hendricks was a complex back/forth trade because of player injuries, but at the end of the day the cubs wanted hendricks and they made the right call there, too.

    aside from that, it looks a lot like it's been for decades.


  • Cubster 13 hours 30 min ago (view)

    Every championship season is sacred (except 2021).


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 34 min ago (view)

    He's looking kinda gassed. I think we've got to be coming up on his innings limit