2016 Winter Meetings (Day Four) - Rule 5 Draft

The 2016 MLB Rule 5 Draft will be the last order of "official" business at the Winter Meetings Thursday morning.

: The Cubs acquired LHP Caleb Smith from the Milwaukee Brewers for a Player to Be Named Later (or cash) after the conclusion of the draft. Smith was selected by the Brewers from the New York Yankees AAA Scranton affiliate in the Major League Phase (so the Cubs assume the Rule 5 obligations that go with selecting a player in the Major League Phase). Smith must be added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) immediately (and tendered a major league contract by 5 PM Eastern), so the Cubs now have 36 players on their MLB 40-man roster (four slots are open).

Armando Rivero, RHP (by Atlanta Braves from Cubs AAA Iowa affiliate)

Danny Lockhart, INF (by Arizona Diamondbacks AAA Reno affiliate from Cubs AA Tennessee affiliate)

Kevin Cornelius, INF (by Cubs AAA Iowa affiliate from New York Yankees AA Trenton affiliate)

The Rule 5 Draft (technically known as the "Rule 5 Selection Meeting") is a mechanism that allows MLB clubs to select (draft) players off minor league reserve lists. There is a "Major League Phase" where an MLB club can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs (any minor league classification) for $100,000 ("Major League Phase" Rule 5 Draft price increased from $50,000 to $100,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft), and a "AAA Phase" where a club's AAA minor league affiliate can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a lower classification (below AAA) for $24,000 ("Minor League Phase" Rule 5 Draft price increased from $12,000 to $24,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft).
NOTE: Effective December 2016, the "AA Phase" (where a club's AA minor league affiliate could select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a classification below AA for $4,000) has been eliminated. (There were no players selected in the AA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft last year, probably speeding its demise).

There is no limit on the number of rounds in each phase (there could be one, there could be three, there could be five or more). As long as at least one club is still selecting players, the phase will continue, but as soon as all 30 teams have a full reserve list (so that clubs can no longer make selections) or have passed, the phase is over.  

There is no limit on the number of Rule 5 Draft-eligible players any one organization can lose in a Rule 5 Draft.

The Cubs presently have 35 players on their MLB Reserve List (five slots are open), so they could select as many as five players in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft if they were so inclined. (A club can only select as many players in the Major League Phase of the Rule Draft as the number of open slots on the club's MLB reserve list). If the Cubs do select a player, it could either be for themselves, or for the purpose of trading or selling the rights to the drafted player to another club in a pre-arranged deal (a not uncommon practice). Or another MLB club with a more-favorable draft slot could select a player in the Rule 5 Draft for the Cubs and then trade or sell rights to the drafted player to the Cubs (with the Cubs assuming the Rule 5 obligations).

Since the Cubs have the 30th (last) pick in the draft order, it's more likely that the Cubs would ask another club with a more-favorable draft slot to make a selection for them (an MLB-ready lefty reliever, maybe?) and then acquire rights to the drafted player from that club for cash or player(s), than the other-way around. But that's only if the Cubs are interested in acquiring a particular Rule 5 Draft-eligible player. Actually, the Cubs are a lot more likely to lose one or more players in the Major League Phase of this year's Rule 5 Draft than they are to add one. It will be interesting to see if the increased cost of selecting players in the Major League Phase (up from $50,000 last year to $100,000 this year) will dampen some of the interest and enthusiasm on the part of some MLB clubs. 

While no more than 40 players can be assigned to an MLB Reserve List, there is a 38-man reserve list limit for AAA clubs (the reserve list limit is 37 for AA affiliates, and 35 for all affiliates below AA). Typically, most MLB clubs will leave four or five slots open on their AAA affiliate's reserve list when reserve lists are filed in November, for free-agents who might be signed to minor league contracts and for players on the MLB 40-man roster who might get outrighted to the minors prior to the Rule 5 Draft, and for players the club might want to select from other organizations in the AAA Phase of the draft. (Just as in the Major League Phase, a club can only select as many players in the Minor League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft as the number of slots that were open on the AAA affiliate's reserve list prior to the start of the draft).

In fact, it is FAR more-likely that the Cubs will make selections in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft than in the Major League Phase (they drafted three players in the AAA Phase last year), and likewise there is a good chance that they will lose several players in the AAA Phase as well (the Cubs lost four players in the AAA Phase last year). Although occasionally a decent prospect was left unprotected in the AAA Phase (1B Justin Bour was selected by the Miami Marlins off the AA Tennessee reserve list in the AAA Phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft), the AAA Phase is mainly used to acquire minor league depth at positions where the organization is thin, and while the Cubs are generally about as deep as any organization in baseball, they might look to acquire a LHRP or two, a catcher, and/or maybe a utility infielder for AAA Iowa or AA Tennessee in the Minor League Phase. 

So figure about 33 of the Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft were placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/18 (making them eligible for selection in the Major League Phase only), with maybe 19 of the Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguers placed on AA or Class "A" reserve lists, making those 19 eligible for selection in the AAA Phase (again, in this phase Rule 5 Draft-eligible players on AA or Class "A" reserve lists can be selected, the draft price is $24,000, and there is no right to later re-claim the player once he is drafted). The Cubs have not signed any free-agents to minor league contracts or outrighted any players to the minors In the twenty days since minor league reserve lists were filed, so there should still be about five slots open on the AAA Iowa reserve list for potential AAA Phase selections.

Listed below are the 52 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in today's Rule 5 Draft. I have highlighted in bold & underlined the 33 players I suspect are probably on the AAA Iowa reserve list (making them eligible for selection in the Major League Phase of the draft only): The other 19 players are in italics and are likely available for selection in the AAA Phase. (Again, these are just educated guesses on my part) 

Andury Acevedo, RHP (Article XX-D player)
Gioskar Amaya, C-IF-OF
John Andreoli, OF
Jeffry Antigua, LHP
Luis Aquino, RHP
Pedro Araujo, RHP
Jeffrey Baez, OF
Yasiel Balaguert, 1B-OF
Dallas Beeler, RHP (Article XX-D player)
Corey Black, RHP
David Bote, INF
Cael Brockmeyer, C
Stephen Bruno, INF
Roberto Caro, OF
Erick Castillo, C
Josh Conway, RHP
Taylor Davis, C-1B
Andin Diaz, LHP
Elvis Diaz, RHP
Greyfer Eregua, RHP
Luiz Escanio, RHP (on Restricted List serving 144-game PED suspension)
Bryant Flete, INF
Seth Frankoff, RHP (ex-LAD - signed 2017 minor league contract)
Robert Garcia, OF
David Garner, RHP
Luis Hernandez, RHP
Erick Leal, RHP
Danny Lockhart, INF
Mark Malave, RHP (ex-C)
Dillon Maples, RHP
Trey Martin, OF
Jonathan Martinez, RHP
Ryan McNeil, RHP
Alberto Mineo, C-1B
Jose Paniagua, 1B-OF
Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP
Manny Parra, LHP (Article XIX-A player)
Adonis Paula, INF
Jose Paulino, LHP
Carlos Penalver, INF
Steve Perakslis, RHP
Chris Pieters, 1B-OF (ex-LHP)
Jordan Pries, RHP
James Pugliese, RHP
Bijan Rademacher, OF
Will Remillard, C
Armando Rivero, RHP
Alexander Santana, RHP
Nick Sarianides, RHP
Tyler Skulina, RHP
Daury Torrez, RHP
Michael Wagner, RHP



1. A minor league player who was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract is eligible for selection starting with the 5th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season, and a minor league player who was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract becomes eligible for selection starting with the 4th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season.

2. If a player signs his first contract after the conclusion of the season of the MLB or minor league club to which he is first assigned (even if he signs prior to the Rule 5 Draft), the next season is considered to be the player's "first qualified season" for Rule 5 eligibility purposes. (Depending on the minor league, the conclusion of a minor league club's season could be as early as the first week of August, or as late as the second week of September).

3. A player eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent who signs a minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent and a free-agent with prior MLB and/or minor league service who signs a minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is 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.

4. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has either been released or had his contract voided and then re-signs with the same MLB organization within one year is eligible for selection.

5. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career is eligible for selection.

6. A player on the Voluntary Retired List, Disqualified List, or Ineligible List is not eligible for selection.

7. An MLB club can designate any player on a minor league reserve list "eligible for selection" in the Rule 5 Draft even if the player would not normally be eligible, but once a player is designated "eligible for selection," he remains eligible for selection in all subsequent Rule 5 drafts. NOTE: A club might opt to do this if the club is planning to release the player during the off-season. 

8. A minor league player-manager who would be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft if he was only a player can be selected, but if he is selected, the player-manager can reject the selection and retire. He has 30 days to decide. If he rejects the selection and opts to retire as a player, the player-manager is ineligible to be reinstated as a player for a minimum of one year. 


1. A minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), traded to another organization, or transferred from one minor league reserve list to another within the same organization, starting with the filing of MLB & minor league reserve lists on November 20th up through the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.

2. A Rule 5 Draft-eligible player cannot be sent outright to the minors on the two days prior to the Rule 5 Draft and on the day of the Rule 5 Draft (through the conclusion of the draft).

3. A club must have as many slots open on its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players it selects in the Major League Phase, and an MLB club's AAA affiliate must have as many slots open on its reserve list prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players the affiliate selects in the AAA Phase.

4. A player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft must be placed on the drafting club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) immediately, and must be tendered a major league contract by 5 PM (Eastern) on the day of the draft.

5. A player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft can be traded at any time, but the player cannot be released or sent to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, and then only if Outright Assignment Waivers have been secured and the player's former club declines to reclaim the player.

6. If a player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft spends at least 90 days on an MLB Active List during the MLB regular season following selection, Rule 5 restrictions are removed at the conclusion of the MLB regular season. If time spent on an MLB Active List is less than 90 days in the season following selection, the player remains a Rule 5 player into the next season, and the player continues to be a Rule 5 player until he has spent 90 days total on an MLB Active List.

7. If a club wishes to send a Rule 5 player to the minors before Rule 5 restrictions have been removed, the player must be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers, where any of the other 29 MLB clubs can claim the player for the $50,000 Rule 5 waiver price (formerly $25,000) and assume the Rule 5 obligations.

8. If the Rule 5 player is not claimed off Outright Waivers, the player then must be offered back to the club from which he was drafted, and the player's former club can re-claim the player for $50,000 (formerly $25,000), with the player being automatically outrighted to the Reserve List of the minor league club from which he was drafted. The club from which the player was drafted usually has 72 hours to decide whether to re-claim the player, but it has only 24 hours to decide if the player is eligible to be an Article XX-D or Article XIX-A minor league free-agent if outrighted to the minors (player has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time, qualifies for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" player, and/or has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career). NOTE: A Rule 5 player with Article XIX-A rights (player has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time) cannot be re-claimed and outrighted back to the minor league club from which he was drafted unless the player consents in advance to the assignment.

9. If a Rule 5 player is returned (outrighted) to the minor league club from which he was drafted, the drafting club is responsible for any portion of the player's salary above what the player was paid the previous season.

10. If a Rule 5 Player is returned (outrighted) to the minor league club from which he was drafted, and if the player has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time, qualifies for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" player, and/or has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career, the player can elect to be an MLB Article XX-D minor league free-agent (or Article XIX-A minor league free-agent if the player has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time) after being outrighted (he has three days to decide), or he can accept the Outright Assignment and defer the right to be a minor league free-agent until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. (An outrighted "Super Two" Rule 5 player who has not previously been outrighted to the minors can elect free-agency if he is outrighted to the minors, but he cannot defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season). 

11. If the club from which the player was drafted declines to re-claim the player, the Rule 5 restrictions are removed, the drafting club retains the player, and the player can be sent to the minors or released.

12. A player selected in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft must be assigned to the Reserve List of the AAA club that drafted the player and he must be given a 15-day trial during Spring Training with that club, but the player can be assigned to the Active List of any minor league affiliate in the MLB club's organization once the minor league regular season commences. Also, unlike players selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, a player selected in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft does not have to be offered back to the club from which he was drafted if the player is ultimately assigned to the Active List of a minor league affiliate below the level of the minor league affiliate that drafted the player.

13. A club can select a player off the reserve list of one of its own minor league affiliates, but if the player is selected in the Major League Phase, the club is bound by the same Rule 5 roster restrictions as if it had selected the player off the reserve list of another club's minor league affiliate. NOTE:  This actually happened at least once (a number of years ago), after a club inadvertently left one of its top prospects off its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) when it was submitted to the MLB Commissioner on November 20th.

14. A player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "covered up" from selection, either by agreement between two clubs or by effect (such as by concocting a phony injury and placing the player on the disabled list in an attempt to decrease a player's value when the player is not really injured). Also, a player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "hidden" on a disabled list to help the drafting club fulfill Rule 5 roster obligations (such as by leaving the player on the DL after he is healthy enough to play). If the MLB Commissioner believes a club "covered up" a player to avoid losing the player in the Rule Draft or "hid" a selected player on a Disabled List, the offending club or clubs are subject to a penalty (TBD by the MLB Commissioner).



Even if a player is selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, there is better than a 50-50 chance that the player will later be re-claimed.

For players "on the bubble," it's actually better to lose the player in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft with the possibility that the player could be returned (re-claimed), than to add a player to the MLB 40-man roster and then lose the player off waivers (for $20,000 with no right to re-claim) if the 40-man roster slot is needed at a later time for another player.

There was a time prior to minor league free-agency when a player selected in the Rule 5 Draft could turn out to be pretty good, the most-famous example being future Hall of Fame RF Roberto Clemente (selected by Pittsburgh Pirates GM Branch Rickey from the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 when Clemente was a 20-year Dodger prospect).

Other Rule 5 Draft picks of note over the last 30 years or so include INF Manny Lee and OF George Bell (both drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1980's), LHP Johan Santana (drafted by the Minnesota Twins from Houston in 1999), OF Shane Victorino (drafted twice from the Dodgers - they re-claimed him the first time he was drafted, then lost him for good the second time two years later), OF Josh Hamilton (drafted by the Cubs from Tampa Bay in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft and and then sold to the Reds in a pre-arranged cash deal immediately after the draft),3B Bobby Bonilla (drafted by the White Sox as a 22-year old from the Pirates in 1985, then traded back to Pittsburgh for RHSP Jose DeLeon six months later), 2B Dan Uggla (drafted by the Marlins from Arizona in 2005), and OF Jose Bautista (drafted by the Baltimore Orioles from Pittsburgh in 2003). 

Probably the best Rule 5 Draft pick in the last couple of years was OF Odubel Herrera, selected by the Philadelpuhia Phillies from the Texas Rangers in 2014.

The Cubs have acquired some significant players in the Rule 5 Draft over the years, too, most notably future Hall of Fame CF Hack Wilson (drafted fby the Cubs from the New York Giants in 1925), long-time Phillies 2B Tony Taylor (drafted from the New York Giants in 1957, then traded to the Phillies for Don Cardwell in 1960), LHRP Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez (drafted from the Philadelphia Phillies in 1976, then traded back to the Phillies for Dick Ruthven in 1983, before ending up in Detroit and winning the A. L. Cy Young Award for the World Series Champion Tigers in 1984), catcher Jody Davis (drafted from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980), and RHRP Hector Rondon (drafted from the Cleveland Indians in 2012 and now an integral part of the Cubs bullpen).  

Until fairly recently, the Cubs have been able to avoid losing players of note in the Rule 5 Draft. OF Jason Dubois and RHP Randy Wells were selected by the Toronto Blue Jays (Dubois in 2002 and Wells in 2007), but the Cubs got both back.

However, the Kansas City Royals selected 6'9 LHP Andy Sisco (Cubs 2001 2nd round pick) in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft (Sisco had a fine rookie season as a lefty reliever for the Royals in 2005 before hurting his arm), LHP Donald Veal (Cubs 2005 2nd round draft pick) was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft (after rehabbing from TJS, Veal eventually turned out to be a "lights-out" MLB LOOGY for the White Sox in 2012-13), and the Baltimore Orioles selected INF Ryan Flaherty (Cubs 2008 1st round supplemental pick received for losing FA catcher Jason Kendall) in the Major League Phase of the 2011 Rule 5 Draft (Flaherty was subsequently rated by Baseball America as the Orioles #7 prospect, which I believe might have been the first time a Rule 5 draft pick ended up on the drafting club's BA Top 10 Prospects List). The 6'5 LH hitting Flaherty has played 1B-2B-3B-SS-RF-LF for the Orioles over the course of 429 games 2012-16. And switch-hitting IF-OF Marwin Gonzalez (drafted by the Boston Red Sox from the AAA Iowa roster in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft and then traded to Houston) has been the Astros #1 utility infielder for the last five seasons. 

The most significant Rule 5 Draft loss by the Cubs in recent years was 1B Justin Bour, who was selected by the Miami Marlins in the AAA Phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. Bour has hit 265/335/467 with 39 HR & 135 RBI and 35 doubles in 258 MLB games with the Marlins 2014-16. Of course Bour was blocked at 1B in the Cubs system by Anthony Rizzo (with Dan Vogelbach coming up fast from behind), but still it was unusual that the Cubs would leave him available for selection in the AAA Phase. 


Any guesses on who the Cubs lose? My guess would be Corey Black.

All it takes is one MLB club to like a player for that player to get popped in the Rule 5 Draft, but I would say that generally speaking, the ten Cubs minor leaguers most-likely to get selected in the Major League Phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft are (listed in alphabetical order): OF John Andreoli, RHRP Corey Black, C-1B Cael Brockmeyer, C-1B Taylor Davis, RHRP Ryan McNeil, LHSP Jose Paulino, RHSP Jordan Pries, OF-1B Bijan Rademacher, RHRP Armando Rivero, and RHRP Daury Torrez. It's conceivable that no Cubs minor leaguers get selected, but if any do, it will almost certainly be a name or names from that list. 

Without knowing for sure which players are available for selection in the AAA Phase, I would guess that the likes of 2B Stephen Bruno, SS Bryant Flete, INF Danny Lockhart, RHRP (ex-C) Mark Malave, SS Carlos Penalver, and CF Trey Martin are probably on the AA Tennessee reserve list, and if so, they would be the best candidates to get drafted in the AAA Phase ($12,000 draft price with no right to re-claim). 

"Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the team will not sign both Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen." being a NYY fan must be occasionally interesting.

Ken Rosenthal BREAKING: Chapman to #Yankees, five years, $86M.

The Annual Average Value (AAV) of Chapman's contract is $17.2M, exactly equal to the 2017 Qualifying Offer number.

kevin cornelius (NYY)...that one came out of nowhere. AAA phase pick. occasional middle IF'r, now a 1st/3rd for quite a while...never seen higher than A+ ball...24yo should be interesting to see if they try to make him a super-sub type playing all over the IF. he seems to play a sketchy 3rd judging solely by the numbers. http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/pl...

Danny Lockhart is the son of ex-MLB INF Keith Lockhart, who is the Cubs Georgia/South Carolina Area Scout.

Per Jesse Rogers, Cubs traded for Caleb Smith, who was selected by the Brewers from the Yankees. Expected to be a long man in the pen.

nice gamble. low-90s fastball lefty who's oddly (or not) done quite well vs righties.

PHIL: Apparently the Cubs dodged selection of Andrioli? The loss of Rivero may come back sometime...but time will tell of course. Can you tell us anything about Caleb Smith? Since the Brewers Spring ball is out your way, wondering if you've had the chance to view?

E-MAN: I haven't seen Caleb Smith. The Brewers selected him from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft and then traded him to the Cubs right after the draft, so he's never pitched for the Brew Crew, and he hasn't pitched in the AFL, either.

John Andreoli may finally get some big league time weith the Cubs in 2017. Matt Szczur is out of minor league options and will have a tough time making the Opening Day 25-man roster unless Albert Almora Jr stumbles, so Szczur could very well get traded prior to the end of Spring Training (if not sooner), leaving a vacancy for a "4th OF."  

Szczur is a more-polished and more fundamentally sound all-around player than Andreoli, a solid defender in the outfield, a smart baserunner (though not a good base-stealer), and an OK hitter with a line-drive stroke. Szczur is the protypical 4th OF and should get work elsewhere in MLB if & when he leaves the Cubs.

Despite speed and athleticism, Andreoli is a slightly below-average defender with a below-average arm, and he sells out for power by striking out a TON. So he's not really a late-inning defensive-replacement (for Schwarber in LF) type of outfielder like Szczur would be, and he could get "worked": by big league pitchers who know how to exploit a hitter's weaknesses. But he does walk a lot and is a good base stealer, too, and he'll hit some home runs, so he could be more useful than Szczur that way, especially with Szczur being out of options. (Andreoli would have three minor league option years once he's on the 40, making him an ideal Des Moines-Chicago shuttle guy for the next three seasons).   

So I wouldn't be surprised if Andreoli gets called up to Chicago sometime during the 2017 season, in September if not sooner. Also, Andreoli is a minor league free-agent after next season if he's not added to the MLB 40-man roster by the 5th day after the final game of the 2017 World Series, so I guess you could say "the time is now" or "it's make or break time" as far as his possible future with the Cubs in concerned.   

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/210676080/scout... "Smith has a low-90s fastball and is actually more effective against right-handers because his best secondary offering is his changeup. He saw action as both a starter and reliever in Double-A, posting a 3.96 ERA and 70/20 K/BB ratio in 63 2/3 innings."

Please be true


Rumors about Fowler not wanting to play for Cardinals

According to Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports, Dexter Fowler is scheduled to take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. -Rotoblurb

So I guess not true


Supposedly an "over the top" offer to Dex. On the bright side, Cubs would receive a compensatory pick after the first round AND the Cards would lose their first round pick (and yeah they still get to keep their bullshit "competive balance" pick - crikey)

This makes freaking Jon Jay and Almora in the CF look even worse

the team makes up for it with the bat elsewhere, at least. it's a step backwards, but not a big step, and they have a lot of upside with the bats to give up and still be great. overall, it's a money/commitment thing, of course. if heyward can get his shit together that would be nice...hell, he could emerge as the lead-off hitter.

The thing is two years ago, I don't remember people being incredibly excited about Dexter Fowler coming to Chicago. It wasn't until we saw what he could do that we were happy to have him around. Give these fellows a chance, especially Almora. We don't know anything until the bell sounds. Until then, its all guessing.

That means we have to trust Theo and Jed. /what have the Romans ever done for us?

I wonder what Heyward told him.

Going from the Cubs party room to the Cardinals no-fun zone would be a shock. If you're going to receive money that will take care of your family for generations no matter where you sign, why go someplace that won't be enjoyable?

Twitternet reporting he's going to St Louis tomorrow for a physical ... also seeing Uehara officially signed with Cubs

Numerous reports that the Cubs are on the verge of signing Komi Uehara. The bullpen is getting crowded.

Uehara going to sign with Cubs for $4.5m


Koji will be 42 next season.

He also struck out over 12 per 9 and doesn't walk too many. Maddon will love him, although he started giving up HR's last year which hopefully was just a blip. Had a rough stretch in middle of season and then went on DL, but started and finished strong. The previous 3 years were excellent.

He basically had 2 bad outings that killed his ERA (total of 1.0IP, 7 ER). He was great in Sept. -- 11.0IP, Blutarsky ERA (0.00). WHIP under 1.00 every year since 2010. Plus, the NL hasn't seen much of him, which should help. Fun!

Is Kawasaki joining Koji on a minor leg deal? How about Tazawa?

davis, rondon, strop, edwards, uehara, grimm, duensing...c.smith, f.pena...j.leathersich... that's a hell of a crowded lot.

Zastryzny, Brooks also in the mix.

fwiw, I think they said Zastryzny will very likely start in Iowa and stay stretched out.

AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW, the 2017 starting rotation at Iowa will probably be five from amongst Zastryzny-Buchanan-Brooks-Beeler-Pries-Williams-Frankoff (two of the seven could end up in the I-Cubs pen).

Duane Underwood Jr, Trevor Clifton, Jake Stinnett, Jen-Ho Tseng and either Jonathan Martinez, Preston Morrison,  Erick Leal, or Jeremy Null should front the AA Tennessee rotation (the Tennessee rotation is jammed), with Dylan Cease, Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Paulino, Ryan Kellogg, and Justin Steele probably at Myrtle Beach, and Thomas Hatch, Bailey Clark, Bryan Hudson, Manny Rondon, and Erling Moreno the starting pitchers at South Bend.  

The Cubs starting pitcher prospects group (below AAA) are probably about as good and deep as has been the case at anytime in the last 15 years. 

Has Carson Sands' stock dropped that much? Or is he an outside contender for one of those rotations?

DLJ: Carson Sands stock has fallen, but I guess he would have an outside shot for a rotation slot at South Bend. However, I believe his future is probably in the bullpen. The Cubs don't have a lot of lefty relievers in the system, and so he could move a lot faster working out of the pen. In fact as a LHRP, Sands could begin the 2017 season at Myrtle Beach.  

BTW, Sands will be Rule 5 Draft-eligible next year (a year earlier than most HS players selected in his draft class), because he was a 19-year old HS senior.

Thanks for the info AZ Phil! What about Zach Hedges? He had a great year this past year... is he more of a bullpen candidate too?

DJL: The Cubs moved Zach Hedges, Daury Torrez, and Felix Pena to the bullpen at Minor League Camp last March, but Hedges was moved back to the starting rotation once the regular season started out of necessity and he did a nice job there at both Myrtle Beach and at Tennessee. But his future is probably in the pen. Same goes for Tyler Skulina and Brad Markey.

The Cubs actually have plus-depth right now as far as starting pitcher prospects is concerned (they just haven't reached AAA yet), so look for some of the guys who have been starters at South Bend, Myrtle Beach, or Tennessee to be relocated to the bullpen as they reach AA and AAA.

For example, Pierce Johnson (who was always getting hurt as a SP) was moved to the pen at Iowa in July and he was actually better in the I-Cubs pen than Carl Edwards Jr was in about the same number of innings prior to Edwards getting called up to Chicago. Duane Underwood Jr (added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster last month) could eventually end up in the pen, too, because it's a way to limit innings and increase focus for pitchers who have plus-stuff but also a propensity for elbow and shoulder issues, command problems, and/or high per-inning pitch counts. 

Remember, most MLB relievers were starting pitchers at some point in their minor league careers before being moved to the bullpen. Very few MLB relievers were bullpen guys from the gitgo.

Awesome info, thanks Phil!

These are demotions, though, Phil. Johnson and Underwood (sounds like an LLC) were drafted as starters. You can't apply band-aids like Feldman and Hammel to your starting rotation forever. I would let McLeod pick a position player at or near the top of the draft any day, but a pitcher? Not so much.

This is kind of an odd bone to pick with McLeod because 1) he's never picked a SP near the front of the draft with the Cubs (supplemental and second round draft picks aren't really comparable to top 10 picks), and 2) part of the reason the Cubs have been willing to punt pitching in the draft is because they believe in their ability to find useful MLB pitchers like Hammel and Feldman. That's the plan (and it has worked swimmingly) from the top down, not a particular weakness of McLeod's.

It's more than bone-picking. He can't draft starting pitchers. It's a waste of time waiting for a guy that McLeod drafted to turn into someone who can start effectively in the majors. You imply that the good pitchers are gone by the start of the second round. Here's a quick list of pitchers who have become respectable starters after being passed over by every scouting director in the first round, and by McLeod in subsequent rounds. Matt Moore, 8th round, 2007 Kyle Hendricks, 8th, 2011 Tanner Roark, 25th, 2008 Corey Kluber, 4th, 2007 J A Happ, 3rd, 2004 Jerad Eickhoff, 15th, 2011 Jeremy Hellickson, 4th, 2005 (drafted by Wilken, by the way) Jeff Samardzija, 5th, 2006 (Wilken again) Chris Archer, 5th, 2006 Zach Davies, 26th, 2011 Dan Straily, 24th, 2009 Doug Fister, 7th, 2006 Jaime Garcia, 22nd, 2005 Drew Smyly, 2nd, 2010 Dallas Keuchel, 7th, 2009

Too early to tell for pitchers... there are a lot of interesting pitchers in the Cubs minor league system that are approaching AA/AAA. Also need to take strategy into account. When they drafted three high-ceiling/low-floor types in 2014, I was thinking that 1/3 would be a "win". If you look at all P drafted (and signed) in recent history who have a total career WAR of 1.0 or greater (per BB-Ref), here is how the year by year breaks down: 2015 - 0 players 2014 - 3 players - picked at 3,7,17 (Cubs picked Schwarber @ 4, Stinnett @ 45) 2013 - 5 players - picked at 3, 34, 38, 111, 235 (Cubs picked Bryant @ 2, Zastzryardija @ 41) 2012 - 12 players - 5 with a WAR >4 - picked at 4,19,22,41,85 (Cubs picked Almora @ 6 , Johnson @ 43) 2011 - 33 players (McLeod not w/ Cubs but for argument's sake, the Padres drafted 3 of those 33 players) 2010 - 28 players (Padres drafted 0/28) 2009 - 33 players (Red Sox drafted 1/33) Looking at 09-10-11, it's hard to find more than a handful (<3) of obvious misses. Jose Fernandez is a clear one. I'm not going to count a pick like Trevor Rosenthal (21st rd / 634 overall) against anybody. Your list is accurate, but it's the numerator that needs to be compared to the denominator of pitchers drafted/signed from rounds 3-25. I only counted for 2010... there were >280 pitchers drafted between rds 3-25. If we assume that is typical, and round down to be conservative, then we are looking at 250-ish pitchers per year from 04-11 (8 yrs) = 2000 to 2250 drafted pitchers in rds 3-25. The 15 P on your list would represent .75% of the total. Even if we double the number to 30-ish viable pitchers, then you are still looking at a conversion rate of 1.5%. McLeod has drafted/signed 64 pitchers between rounds 3-25 (plus 5 in rds 1-2). If the Cubs make 1 of those 64 a passable MLB player, then they are at a 1.5% conversion rate (total randomness that the 1.5% number lined up so well). I'd take the over on that bet. That all said... I totally argree that the Cubs haven't been as good at drafting pitching as they have at drafting position players. And the 2013 draft in particular looks dreadful for pitchers, basically striking out (badly) on picks 4-5-6-7-8.

You're right about 2011. McLeod had a pretty good year drafting pitchers who have shown signs of being able to start (not relieve) in the majors. I count four such pitchers: Joe Ross (1st round), Matt Andriese (3rd), Matt Wisler (7th) and Colin Rea (12th). 2010 with the Padres was not good, pitching-wise, and in six years with the Red Sox I only see Buchholz and Justin Masterson. But I wouldn't have thought he could identify four pitchers in a single draft, and I was wrong. So that's positive; and 2011 is fairly recent. As you say, it's still early with some of these Cub drafts. Bottom line, they can put a statue of McLeod on a street corner in Wrigleyville and I won't complain, since watching Bryant and Schwarber hit back-to-back for the next half dozen years will be pure pleasure.

I totally lost track of where I posted the above comment until now. I agree with all of this. You could pick any 2 or 3 drafts by any scouting director and not find a useable major league pitcher after the 1st round. Not that they don't exist, just that the odds are so low. But beyond that, the only group McLeod has really drafted with the Cubs that can even sort of be graded yet is the 2012 group. And at least one of those guys (Blackburn) pitched reasonably well at AA and helped bring back an actual MLB pitcher (Montgomery). The other drafts are either too recent or have at least yielded some moderate success. Zastryzny and Godley have reached the majors from the 2013 group, and they found Trevor Clifton that year and he is only 21 with a bright future as a potential no 3. You have Cease from the 2014 group who is highly rated but still a ways off. They also found Zach Hedges in round 26 and he has cruised through AA so far looking like a potential major league starter. No reason to pass judgement on the 2015 group, though Hudson has been disappointing so far. Ryan Kellogg and Preston Morrison have looked good from out of nowhere. Thomas Hatch hasn't pitched yet beyond instructs, but there have been some pretty positive early reviews on him. So even if you concede the 2012 group is a bust (In might not quite yet), it's too early to say McLeod can't pick a good pitcher yet (you can go back and find some successes in his Boston and SD drafts as well, like Buccholz and Joe Ross).

For me, the test of a young pitcher is AA, probably because that's where two notable fizzles occurred with recent highly touted prospects Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt. Clifton hasn't thrown an inning there yet, so we'll see what happens this year. I hadn't quite realized that Hedges seems to have passed the AA test already, so thanks for pointing that out. I'd like to see a little higher SO9, though, just on the theory that if you're pitching to contact in AA, you're going to be pitching to harder contact in the majors. I am softening on McLeod, though, as I indicated the other day, based on that nice draft he had for starting pitchers with the Padres in 2011. I do like Zastryzny, and more importantly, Maddon seems to like him.

Time for more fun and food at South Bend!

Let's get T. Wood to finish off the pen.

another important note on Koji, reverse splits!!! Been very tough on lefties, although also very tough on righties (Splitter is his big pitch) http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/spl... 208/237/366 vs RHB 183/220/335 vs LHB

Feeling pretty good about the Cubs pen at this point. Would not be surprised to see Montgomery head back to the pen at some point in 2017 either. Best-case scenario he heads to the pen to limit his innings.

Around 5/80 for Fowler supposedly...good for him. Bad for Cards. That's a much bigger CF than Wrigley and Fowler is average at best in CF imo.

He should be a OK corner OF when he can no longer handle CF. Not a massive overpay, as free agent signings go. I hope he does well but that the Cards still can't manage to edge the Cubs.

Opening day 2017 Theo speaks to cell phone -"initiate Heyward Virus" Dexter goes 0-4 with k and three soft grounders to second

Speaking of Opening Day -- the first opposing hitter the Cubs will face in 2017 -- Dexter Fowler.

Yeah, I'm over Dexter. It didn't take long. Cubs have too many interesting CF prospects--even apart from Almora--to bind themselves to Fowler for four years. Let's see, Dewees, Happ, Hannemann, DJ Wilson, Eddy Martinez, Jeffrey Baez. Even Zagunis played a few games in CF in 2015, if you just want someone who can probably come closest to Fowler's OBP. I agree with you that Fowler is nothing special in CF, so that sets the bar lower for these other guys.

Getting an error trying to log in on laptop: An AJAX HTTP request terminated abnormally. Any ideas?

until it's resolved you can go directly to http://www.thecubreporter.com/user (without using the logon popup window) and navigate/post/etc. if you close the page/browser you'll have to do it again.

5/82.5 for fowler (STL) heyward has like 7/160 or something left...c'mon guy.

With the Cubs having non-tendered LHRP Gerardo Concepcion, traded OF Jorge Soler, and lost RHRP Armando Rivero in the Rule 5 Draft over the past week, there are now only two Cuban-born players left in the Cubs organization: 1B-OF Yasiel Balaguert and OF Eddy Julio Martinez. 

Ten players received Qualifying Offers post-2016, and two (Hellickson and Walker) accepted. Another (Cespedes) ended up re-signing with his former club. Two (Fowler and Desmond) have signed with new clubs 

This means that the Cubs 1st round draft pick has moved up from #30 overall to #28 overall, and if the remaining five Qualified Players (Bautista, Encarnacion, Jansen, Trumbo, and Turner) sign with new clubs, the Cubs 1st round pick could be as high as #23. 

The compensation pick received by the Cubs after Fowler signed with the Cardinals is (right now) #36 overall (after Competitive Balance Round "A" and one slot lower than the Rangers comp pick they got for losing Desmond), and it will remain there regardless of what happens with the five remaining Qualified Players, unless the same club signs more than one Qualified Player and the second draft pick forfeited is a 2nd round pick (in which case it could move back to #37). 

So Cub fans should root for the five remaining Qualfied Players to sign with new clubs, and for no club to sign more than one Qualified Player.

I'm not sure I've ever had more reason to root for players to get their big paydays.

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • crunch 9 hours 7 min ago (view)

    * except for playing 1st base


  • crunch 2 days 5 hours ago (view)

    a lot of people were all-in on it being a 2022 thing, but given how MLB has held the DH over the player's heads like it's some kind of extremely valuable chip worth more than the players seem to think it's worth...who knows...


  • Cubster 2 days 6 hours ago (view)

    any estimates on the chances of the DH in the NL anytime soon?


  • crunch 2 days 7 hours ago (view)

    k.schwarber is hella good at post-season baseball.


  • Cubster 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Carter Hawkins introduced to the press...



  • crunch 2 days 9 hours ago (view)

    e.castillo and t.payne off the 40man in 100% totally expected moves.

    both are/were catcher organizational depth.


  • crunch 2 days 10 hours ago (view)

    for those keeping track of the heating-up Mets head of baseball operations search, theo has already ruled himself out.

    mets want(ed) some heavy hitters (including b.beane and d.stearns), but none of them are on board...well, MIL took stearns off the board before he could chime in because he has a year left on his contract.


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Something to keep in mind about clearing MLB 40-man roster slots for players eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft is that you can't non-tender players to create 40-man roster space for Rule 5 Draft eligibles. That's because players can only be non-tendered on 12/2, and the pre-Rule 5 Draft roster filing deadline is 11/19 (almost two weeks - PRIOR TO -the contract tender date). NOTE: Normally the roster filing deadline is 11/20, but it's moved up to 11/19 this year because 11/20 falls on a Saturday in 2021


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 15 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Just one game, some BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills. So not much to glean from that so far. 


  • crunch 3 days 6 hours ago (view)

    minor league baseball has to provide housing for minor leaguers starting 2022 (paid for by MLB parent clubs).  this is HUGE news and will make it possible for guys to stick around longer without having to quit the game just to earn a basic living.  for minor league players working in expensive housing markets this is a life saver.

    activist players from the OAK and LAA minor league teams as well as minor league player labor advocacy organizations were a huge part of making this happen.  good work.


  • bradsbeard 3 days 10 hours ago (view)

    Did you have any occasion to observe Pedro Ramirez? Not sure if he got into any games or not (now that I think of it, you wrote up at least one game he played in). 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 15 hours ago (view)

    azbobbop: Certainly LHSPs Drew Gray and Luke Little have emerged as legit significant high-end SP prospects. RHSP Luis Devers has probably displaced Koen Moreno as the top "pitchability" SP prospect in the lower levels of the Cubs system. Tyler Schlaffer (another "pitchability" guy) also had an impressive Instructs, although Devers is a better SP prospect because he has a solid three-pitch mix and knows how to use it, while Schlaffer has just the 92-94 FB & CV (although both are solid offerngs) and isn't as polished as Devers is.


  • Hagsag 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    This is the first time I have heard about the four month program in November. 


  • azbobbop 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Phil, now that instructional scare finished, which players impressed you the most and who are disappointments.


  • tim815 4 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Cool. Should help his trade value if the bat plays.


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 10 hours ago (view)

    TIM: Peter Matt looks very comfortable at 3B. He is a classic "four-corner" guy (1B-3B-LF-RF).