Cubs May Try a Little Non-Tenderness

12/13 UPDATE

The Cubs have acquired 26-year old 6'4 220 LHRP from the Los Angeles Angels as the PTBNL in last month's Tommy LaStella trade. Lillis-White was "frozen" on the AAA Salt Lake reserve list (he is from Canada, so he can probably handle the cold OK) until the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, so the Cubs and Angels had to wait until the draft was over (and hope that he wasn't selected by another MLB club) before they could complete the deal. 

The Angels 2015 32nd round draft pick out of the University of British Columbia in Canada, Lillis-White had a good 2018 season split between the AA Arkansas and AAA Salt Lake bullpens, putting up a 3.50 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and 32/98 BB/K in 46 games (72 IP). Besides racking up a ton of strikeouts, CLW also is a ground ball pitcher who doesn't surrender many HR. 

Lillis-White projects to be in the AAA Iowa bullpen on 2019 Opening Day, and he could possibly get an NRI to Spring Training with the MLB club.  

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12/6 UPDATE

The Minnesota Twins have signed INF Ronald Torreyes to a 2019 Major League "split" contract ($800K MLB salary with unknown minor league split salary probably in the $300-$400K range). 

Torreyes was non-tendered by the Cubs last Friday after being acquired from the Yankees in a trade two days earlier. 

Based upon what transpired after the Cubs acquired Torreyes (he was non-tendered and then he signed a Major League contract with another club a week later) reinforces the idea that Torreyes was insurance in case the Cubs decided to non-tender Addison Russell, and then once the Cubs decided to tender Russell a 2019 contract, the Cubs did not want to risk the possibility that they might have to go to arbitration with Torreyes and were only interested in retaining him if he was willing to accept a minor league contract.

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12/4 UPDATE

The Japan Times is reporting that the to a one-year contract ($620K). 

Hancock was one of three players non-tendered by the Cubs last Friday.

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11/30 UPDATE:

The Cubs have tendered contracts to 24 of the 27 unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), including seven of the eight players who were eligible for salary arbitration and 17 of the 19 who are pre-arbitration (auto-renewal).

The three players who were non-tendered are INF Ronald Torreyes (acquired from the Yankees in a trade on Wednesday), RHP Justin Hancock, and RHP Allen Webster. The Cubs will likely now attempt to sign the three players who were non-tendered to 2019 minor league contracts, preferrably after the Rule 5 Draft. It's possible that the Cubs already have deals in place with one, two, or maybe all three of their non-tendered players. (Last year Taylor Davis was non-tendered and then signed a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft). However, a non-tendered player is an unrestricted free-agent and so he can sign a Major League or minor league 2019 contract with any club (including his former club).     

Torreyes was eligible for Salary Arbitration as a "Super Two" player, and if you are wondering why the Cubs non-tendered Hancock and Webster (neither of whom were eligible for Salary Arbitration), read the original post below for the explanation(s).

As far as Torreyes being acquired in a trade and then being non-tendered two days later is concerned, it may have been a matter of Torreyes being an insurance policy in case the Cubs decided not to tender a contract to Addison Russell, but once the Cubs decided to tender Russell (the final decision was made apparently within the last 24 hours), Torreyes became expendable (although again, the Cubs probably hope to sign Torreyes to a minor league contract). Also, if Torreyes had been tendered and then went through the arbitration process, his contract could not have included a separate (and significantly lower) minor league "split salary," in the event he spends more time in AAA than he does in MLB in 2019. Now that he has been non-tendered, Torreyes could sign a minor league contract in the $150K range with maybe a $900K MLB salary if at some point he gets added to the MLB 40-man roster, or he could even sign a Major League contract (and go back on the 40) albeit with a minor league split salary in the $150K range. It's the minor league split salary that matters here, because (as things stand now) Torreyes is likely to spend most of the 2019 season as injury-insurance depth at AAA once Russell returns from his suspension.  

With three players having been non-tendered, the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 36 (four slots are open). 

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11/29 UPDATE


The Cubs have traded INF to the Los Angeles Angels for a PTBNL or cash.

The Cubs acquired LaStella from the Atlanta Braves in November 2014 for RHRP Arodys Vizcaino, and LaStella has served as a back-up 2B-3B and LH pinch-hitter for the Cubs most of the past four seasons. He hit 312/398/416 as a pinch-hitter in 2018 and led MLB in pinch-hits (by far) with a club-record 24 (Chase Utley was second in pinch-hits in MLB with 13). While there is no question LaStella is the best pinch-hitter in MLB, he is a below-average defender at 3B and just average at 2B.  

The 29-year old LaStella is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time post-2018 but was not projected to make more than about $1.2M. He has one minor league option left and is under club control through the 2020 season (or through the 2021 season if he spends more than 115 days on Optional Assignment to the minors in 2019). 

The Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 39 (one slot is open). 

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11/28 UPDATE #2

The Cubs have signed free-agent LHP to a 2019 Major League contract and he has been added to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) 

An extreme ground ball pitcher who throws strikes, the 6'5 215 27-year old lefty pitched for Iowa (the Cubs AAA affiliate) in 2018, and had a very good year (2.86 ERA - 1.00 WHIP - .203 OppBA - 18/61 BB/K in 22 G - 8 GS). He was declared an MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA on November 2nd.

Why the Cubs did not just add Ryan to their MLB Reserve List prior to him becoming a minor league FA is unclear, but it may have had something to do with the Cubs somewhat murky 40-man roster situation heading into the 11/20 minor league roster filing deadline (they ultimately needed roster slots for Justin Steele, Ian Clarkin, and Rowan Wick, and potentially could have needed additional slots as well). It's possible that the Cubs made a verbal promise to Ryan that he would be added to the 40 ASAP if he would agree to wait (let's say) a month and not sign elsewhere. 

So Ryan does get a slot on the 40 after-all, and he will compete for a spot in the Cubs bullpen in Spring Training. Ryan was a SP/RP "swing-man" at Iowa in 2018, and so he could be a useful piece for the Cubs in 2019.   

Ryan was a 12th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers out of Auburndale HS - Auburndale, FL in 2010, and he has MLB experience (he was a LHP - SWING off-and-on for the Detroit Tigers in 2014-17). He has one minor league option left, so he can safely ride the "Chicago - Des Moines shuttle" in 2019 without the Cubs having to fear that he could be claimed off waivers if they need him to begin next season at Iowa. However, he has been sent outright to the minors previously in his career, so he is an Article XX-D player and has the right to elect free-agency if he were to be outrighted to the minors again.  

With Ryan having been added to the MLB Reserve List, the Cubs 40-man roster is now full (pending any moves that might be made prior to Friday's contract tender deadline). 


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11/28 UPDATE #1

Ther Cubs have acquired INF   from the New York Yankees for a PTBNL or cash. He was Designated for Assignment by NYY on Monday, and likely would have been non-tendered by the Yanks on Friday if he hadn't been traded.  

The 5'8 150 Venezuelan was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as a 17-year old IFA out of Venezuela in 2010, and he was an outstanding hitter right from the start (he hit .390 in the VSL in 2010 and .356 as an 18-year old in the MWL in 2011). He was rated the Reds #13 prospect by Baseball America after the 2011 season, before being traded to the Cubs in December 2011 in the deal that sent LHP Sean Marshall to the Reds and LHP Travis Wood and OF Dave Sappelt to the Cubs. 

Torreyes spent a year-and-a-half in the Cubs system (Hi-A Daytona in 2012 and AA Tennessee in 2013) before being traded to the Houston Astros in July 2013 for International Signing Bonus Pool space (the Cubs needed some additional ISBP space so that they could sign the #1 and #2 rated 2013-14 ISP J-2 IFA, SS Gleyber Torres and OF Eloy Jimenez). 

Torreyes bounced around after being traded, moving from HOU to TOR to LAD to NYY to LAA in cash deals and waiver claims before finally ending up with the Yankees to stay in February 2016. He spent most of the last three seasons as the Yankees' #1 utility infielder.  

Although he has a slightly below-average arm, Torreyes is a solid defender at 2B-3B-SS and a high-contact hitter with below-average power and average speed, hitting a combined 281/310/375 in 229 MLB games (615 PA). He figures to provide the Cubs with middle-infield insurance at the beginning of the 2019 season while Addison Russell finishes serving his DV suspension, or he could be a full-season back-up INF option if the Cubs non-tender or trade Russell. 

Torreyes is first-time eligible for salary arbitration (as a "Super Two") post-2018, and he has one minor league option left should the Cubs need to send him to the minors at some point in 2019. 

With the addition of Torreyes, the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 39 (one slot is open).  


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11/26 ORIGINAL POST:  

If an unsigned player on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) is not tendered a 2019 contract by 8 PM (Eastern) on this coming Friday (November 30th), the player will be immediately removed from his club's MLB 40-man roster and he becomes an unrestricted free-agent, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club, including the club that non-tendered the player.
NOTE: The MLB contract tender deadline is normally December 2nd, but it is moved up to December 1st if December 2nd falls on a Saturday (as was the case last year), or to November 30th if December 2nd falls on a Sunday (which is the case this year).  

A "Non-Tendered" player receives no termination pay, and the player's former club receives no compensation if the player subsequently signs with another club.

Unlike players who receive an Outright Release, a player who is not tendered a contract is not placed on waivers prior to becoming a free-agent.  


TENDERING CONTRACTS TO UNSIGNED PLAYERS 

Each unsigned player on an MLB 40-man roster who is tendered a contract must be offered at least the MLB minimum salary ($575K in 2019) and (with a couple of exceptions) at least 80% of the player's previous season's salary, and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back.

Some players have a "minor league split" salary in their contract which they are paid if they are sent to the minors. In most cases, a player's minor league "split" salary must be at least 50% of the player's salary (as was actually paid to the player) from the previous season. The one exception is if a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply. 

The minor league "split" minimum salary is $90,400 in 2019, and the minor league "split" minimum salary for players who are on an MLB Reserve List for the first time is $45,300 in 2019.


INCENTIVE/PERFORMANCE BONUSES 

Performance-incentive bonuses are permitted in Major League contracts, but a bonus cannot be based on batting or pitching skill, or where the club finishes in the standings.

A performance-incentive bonus can, however, be tied to days spent on an MLB Active List during the MLB regular season, and/or Games Played, Games Started, Games Finished, and/or Innings Pitched for pitchers, or Games Played, Games Started, and/or Plate Appearances for position players. Awards such as MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger, and/or Gold Glove, and/or being named to an All-Star team, can also be tied to an incentive bonus.


ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE PLAYERS 

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. 

UNSIGNED CUBS SALARY ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE PLAYERS: (last updated 11-29-2018)
Javier Baez, INF
Kris Bryant, INF
Carl Edwards Jr, RHP ("Super Two")
Kyle Hendricks, RHP 
Mike Montgomery, LHP
Addison Russell, INF
Kyle Schwarber, OF
Ronald Torreyes, INF ("Super Two")

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).

A player on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released more than 15 days prior to Opening Day receives 30 days salary as termination pay (paid at the "minor league rate" if the player is signed to a "split contract"), and a player on an MLB Reserve List signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released 15 or fewer days prior to Opening Day receives 45 days salary as termination pay (all players paid at the "Major League rate").

A player on an MLB Reserve List who is released during the MLB regular season receives 100% of his salary as termination pay (paid at the "minor league rate" for players on Optional Assignment to the minors).

An unsigned player on an MLB Reserve List released during the off-season receives no termination pay.

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 by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.


PRE-ARBITRATION (AUTO RENEWAL) PLAYERS 

An unsigned player under club control who does not yet qualify for salary arbitration ultimately has to either accept the club's offer or just not play.

A club will negotiate with the player up to a point, but if the player has not signed a contract for the current season by March 1st, the club has the right to unilaterally dictate the player's salary and renew the player's contract from the previous season (albeit for an amount not less than the MLB minimum salary, and not less than 80% of the player's salary from the previous season and not less than 70% of the player's salary from two season's back). 

These players are the ones who have a "minor league split" salary in their contract, which the player is paid if he is sent to the minors. A player's "minor league split" salary must be at least equal to the 2019 MLB "minor league split" minimum salary and must be at least 50% of the player's salary from the previous season. 
NOTE: If a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply.

UNSIGNED CUBS PRE-ARBITRATION (AUTO-RENEWAL) PLAYERS: (last updated 11-26-2018)
Albert Almora, Jr, OF
Adbert Alzolay, RHP
David Bote, INF
Victor Caratini, C
Willson Contreras, C
Taylor Davis, C
Oscar de la Cruz, RHP
Justin Hancock, RHP 
Ian Happ, IF-OF
Dillon Maples, RHP
Alec Mills, RHP
James Norwood, RHP
Randy Rosario, LHP
Justin Steele, LHP 
Jen-Ho Tseng, RHP
Duane Underwood Jr, RHP
Allen Webster, RHP
Rowan Wick, RHP
Mark Zagunis, OF

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PLAYERS WHO COULD BE NON-TENDERED BY CUBS ON FRIDAY

1. , SS: If the Cubs choose to non-tender Addison Russell on Friday, it won't be because of how he played in 2018. If the Cubs non-tender him it will be because the Ricketts family does not want Russell and his DV suspension associated with the Cubs brand. So far there is no indication of that, but if it is the case, Theo & Jed would know that if they do not non-tender (or trade) Russell by Friday, they will probably be stuck with him going into the 2019 season. 

2. , RHP: The Cubs selected Hancock's contract from AAA Iowa on May 9th and he spent 24 days on the Cubs 25-man roster off-and-on in May and June before being placed on the 10-day DL with a right shoulder inflammation on June 26th. He was transferred to the MLB 60-day DL on July 31st, and remained there for the remainder of the season. Because he spent more than three months on the MLB DL, Hancock accrued 123 days of MLB Service Time in 2018, and so he was paid at the "Major League rate" on those 123 days ($575K MLB minimum salary pro-rated to about $3,000 per day for 123 days, plus an additional $30K in minor league salary when he was not on the Cubs MLB active roster or MLB DL, or approximately $400K total). So Hancock was paid about $400K in 2018, and as a result if he is tendered a 2019 contract on Friday, his minor league split salary would have to be about $200K (50% of what he was actually paid in 2018). And $200K is a lot of money to pay a player who will likely spend much of the 2019 season at AAA, so the Cubs might choose to non-tender Hancock in order to avoid paying him a $200K 2019 minor league split salary. The Cubs also might feel they will probably need his slot on the 40 for a free-agent later in the off-season. Now that doesn't mean the Cubs don't want to retain Hancock, just that they would likely prefer to pay him a more-reasonable 2019 minor league salary (probably about $100K) and remove him from the 40-man roster and get him to the AAA Iowa roster without having to expose him to waivers. Non-tendering him on 11/30 and then re-signing him to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft on December 13th would accomplish both of those objectives. Of course, Hancock would have to go along with the plan, and he could just refuse. Also, because Hancock is an MLB Rule 55 player (he would have been a minor league 6YFA on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series if he had not been on the 40-man roster) he cannot be sent outright to the minors (even if Outright Assignment Waivers are secured) until he signs a 2019 contract, and the Cubs would not be able to automatically renew him until March 1st, and Hancock (or at least Hancock's agent) knows that. So non-tendering him on Friday is the only way to get him off the 40 and keep him in the organization (presuming he agrees to sign a 2019 minor league contract with the Cubs after being non-tendered).   

3. , RHP: The Cubs signed Webster to a minor league contract on March 2nd and he spent four months in Mesa rehabbing from a pre-existing right elbow injury. He was moved up to AA Tennessee on 8/9 and then to AAA Iowa on 8/22, and the Cubs selected his contract and elevated him to the MLB 40-man roster on 9/19 after Brandon Morrow was declared out for the season. Unlike the case of Hancock and his 2019 minor league split salary, the issue with Webster is that he is a Draft-Excluded Player so he cannot be sent outright to the minors until 20 days prior to 2019 MLB Opening Day. Also, he is out of minor league options, and so it would be better for the Cubs if he comes to Spring Training on the Iowa roster as an NRI player so that the Cubs would not have to place him on waivers in order to send him to Iowa if he has a strong Cactus League performance but there is no room for him on the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster. By non-tendering him on Friday and then signing him to a 2019 minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs could remove him from the 40 and then bring him to Spring Training as an NRI without having to worry about him being out of minor league options. The Cubs could even offer Webster the same money he would have made if he was on the 40 (or maybe even a little bit more) to entice him to go along with the plan, but as is the case with Hancock, the Cubs cannot force Webster to accept the offer. 

4. , C-1B: For the second season in a row the Cubs called-up Taylor Davis from AAA Iowa in September to serve as a third catcher, so once again he is a Draft-Excluded Player (he cannot be sent outright to the minors until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day). Last year the Cubs non-tendered T. Davis on 12/1 and then re-signed him to a minor league contract (with an NRI to Spring Training) after the Rule 5 Draft so that he could be sure to remain in the Cubs organization in 2018 without having to take up a slot on the 40-man roster. So if the Cubs feel they might need his slot on the 40 again during the post-2018 off-season and since he is (once again) a Draft-Excluded Player and thus cannot be sent outright to the minors until mid-March, non-tendering T. Davis on Friday and then re-signing him to a 2019 minor league contract (with an NRI to Spring Training) after the Rule 5 Draft would remove him from the 40 while at the same time keeping him in the organization. But as would be the case with both Hancock and Webster, T. Davis would have to agree to the proposal. Otherwise he could just get non-tendered and sign elsewhere. And while T. Davis agreed to the proposal last year, he might not be as open to the offer two years in a row.  

Again, keep in mind that if the Cubs need additional MLB 40-man roster slots during the off-season, Taylor Davis, Allen Webster, and recently-acquired (and , too) have  status, so they can - NOT - be outrighted to the minors today, tomorrow, or anytime during the off-season (until 20 days prior to 2019 MLB Opening Day), and Justin Hancock, , , , and have  and so they can - NOT - be outrighted until the player signs a 2019 contract (and as auto-renewal players they would not be compelled to sign until March 1st). 

However, T. Davis, Webster, Wick, Hancock, Underwood, Mills, Rosario, and Maples  - CAN - be non-tendered on 11/30 (and I would expect two or three of them -- especially Hancock and Webster and maybe T. Davis -- to be non-tendered and then possibly/hopefully re-signed to a 2019 minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft if the player accepts the offer), but they can - NOT - be outrighted to the minors until well into Spring Training. 

Otherwise that leaves just , , and as players on the 40 who actually can be outrighted to the minors during the post-2018 off-season (if that were to become necessary in December, January, or February). Outright Assignment Waivers (which are irrevocable) would have to be secured before the player can be sent outright to the minors, however, so the Cubs would be taking a chance that the player could be claimed off waivers (waiver price is $50,000) by another MLB club.  

One additional issue regarding Mark Zagunis (and this also would apply to Justin Hancock if he signs a 2019 major league contract without waiting until March 1st) is that a player on an MLB 40-man roster who accrued MLB Service Time the previous season cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers after 11/20 if the player has a pre-existing injury and is not healthy enough to pass a pre-Spring Training physical. Zagunis (and Hancock) finished the 2018 MLB regular season on the Cubs MLB 60-day with "right shoulder inflammation" (so they both accrued MLB Service Time in 2018), and if the injury has not healed the player cannot be outrighted (even if waivers are secured) after 11/20. But if the shoulder problem lingers throughout the off-season, Zagunis (and/or Hancock) could be placed back on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL as early as the first day of Spring Training (the date pitchers & catchers report), which would open up one (or two) additional slots on the 40 at that time (presuming Zagunis and/or Hancock are on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at the start of Spring Training). 

Comments

Keep in mind that clubs do not offer salary arbitration to players. A club either does or does not tender a contract to an unsigned player, and then an unsigned player who is eligible for salary arbitration either accepts or rejects the contract offer. If the player declines the contract and he is eligible for salary arbitration, he can file for arbitration in January. But it's 100% up to the player to file for arbitration, and the player can file for arbitration only if he has been tendered a contract.

That's why clubs sometimes make last-minute (right at the contract tender deadline) "take it or leave it" contract offers to unsigned players who are eligible for salary arbitration. Either the player signs prior to the tender deadline (to "avoid arbitration" is sometimes how it is referenced short-hand in the media), or he gets non-tendered because the club does not want to take the chance that the player might file for arbitration and then win in a hearing, costing the club more (sometimes considerably more) than what the club feels the player is worth.  

Jesse Chavez not retiring out of Cub uniform as he was quoted , gets 2/8 and re-signs w Rangers.

look elsewhere for bullpen help young jedi...

For those of you who might think the Cubs will try and sneak Ronald Torreyes through waivers, he has the right to elect free-agency if he is outrighted because he is a "Super Two" player, and a "Super Two" player who has not been previously outrighted in his career has (limited) Article XX-D rights in that the player does not have the option of accepting an Outright Assignment and deferring free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. Once outrighted, a "Super Two" player has three days to decide whether to accept or decline the assignment.   

torreyes should be a nice bench option for a middle IF'r.  you know he's gonna make contact and put the ball in play.  he's going to swing early, often, and he's not going to K or walk.  it would be nice if he had a touch more power to go with it.

though torreyes isn't a stater type, i would be a bit more uncomfortable if i were addison russel today...especially on a team with baez, zobrist, bote, and happ.

"dead and company" playing wrigley 2 nights in a row in june...with 2 days to get the field back in shape before the cubs start a 10-day homestand.

that should be interesting field conditions.

LaStella an Angel, looks like they Avoided non-tendering him.

nada, zip, bagoballs in return

TLS is TTFN for a PTBNL

With LaStella having been traded, I suspect the Cubs will sign either 1B-2B-3B-LF Derek Dietrich (ex-MIA) or 2B-3B-LF Cory Spangenberg (ex-SD), both of whom were released earlier this week. Both are left-handed hitters and are better defenders with more positional versatility and have more power than LaStella does, but neither Dietrich nor Spangenberg have shown they can hit cold off the bench like LaStella can. 

I'm not a huge fan of La Stella, but seriously he's worth more than cash or PTBNL.

Even if you see this as a La Stella for Torreyes swap, in terms of roster moves, I don't see the appeal. La Stella is much better offensively and Torreyes is better but nothing special on defense.

These PTBNL are getting really annoying.  The Cubs do it in every trade.  They still have:  Gore, Murphy, B. Wilson, La Stella, Torreyes, Smyly x2 with cash considerations/PTBNL pending in their trades.  I'm surprised the Wick for Vosler was made with out a PTBNL.  Aside from the above mentioned others the Hamels and Chavez trade last year also had PTBNL.  I know they have 6 months to complete the trade but seriously.  

Or cash.

The Gore deal was a cash transaction and there was no PTBNL in the Chavez trade, but otherwise, when it's a PTBNL or cash, the default cash substitute in a deal involving a player on an MLB 40-man roster is $50,000, which also happens to be the MLB waiver price. So if a club takes the cash ($50,000) instead of a player, the club can bank the $50,000 and use it to make a waiver claim at a later time. 

I understand that LaStella's lack of positional flexibility makes him a tricky fit on a roster. It's still too bad that the Cubs are losing a player with an important and rare skill for pretty much nothing. I blame the trend to 13-man pitching staffs; instead of being able to carry a player or two with a unique skill--pinch running, pinch hitting, outstanding defense-- we end up with guys who can do several things, none particularly well. I'm old enough to remember Smoky Burgess--606 career PH, 145 hits (!)--and LaStella could have been up there with ol" Smokehouse had he played in a different era. 

I'm old enough to remember pitchers tossing 220 + innings per year in the minors, until their arms gave out. And nobody being any the wiser. And, sometimes, 100 innings in their draft season, on top of a college workload.

You can value pitchers, which leads to 7 or 8 man bullpens.

Or, you can use SPs at rates currently considered unsustainable. And fewer bench bats on a 25 man roster.

Either/or. Not both.

Of course, Tim. I'm not saying there aren't good reasons for carrying so many pitchers. I'm just saying that, as a consequence, some interesting types of bench players have become extinct. Maybe rosters could be expanded so teams can carry a Tommy LaStella or Terrance Gore for that one special skill. I realize that opens up a complicated discussion probably better left to FanGraphs...

I'm all for one more player on the roster. (But I also support a shorter season and more off days for essentially the same reason: I want to see these great players performing at their best, rather than a 162-game war of attrition.)

In my opinion, the entire season (Game #1 - Game #162 as well as the WC game, LDS, LCS, and WS) should be the same: 

That is, just like in the post-season, each club maintains an eligibility list of 40 players (the MLB "40-man roster"). From that list each club would designate 25 players "active" prior to the start of a series. Since most series consist of three games, it usually would only be necessary to have three of the club's five starting pitchers active, which would allow for guys like PH-specialist Tommy LaStella and PR-specialist Terrance Gore to be active for that series. If it's a four-game series a 4th SP would be active, meaning either a LaStella or a Gore would probably not be active for that series. But an inactive player would not have to be DFA'd or optioned to the minors. The player would just be "inactive" for that series.  

A club could choose to option a player on it's 40-man eligibility list (40-man roster) to the minors (to get consistent reps), for the entire season if that's what the club wants to do. The "10-day rule" would remain in effect for players on the 40 who are optioned to the minors. Only players optioned to the minors would not accrue MLB Service Time. All other players on the club's Eligibility List who are not on Optional Assignment to the minors would accrue MLB Service Time, even during a series where the player is not on the club's 25-man active list. 

And it would generally not be necessary to place anybody on the 10-day DL, because an injured player would just be inactive for that series. In fact, the 10-day DL would only need to be used when a player is injured during a series and needs to be replaced immediately prior to the conclusion of the series. In that case (and only in that case), the injured player would be placed on the 10-day DL. The 60-day DL would be used to remove a player with a major injury or illness from the club's 40-man Eligibility List.  

The change I am proposing would also address the current goofy September roster rules (active roster limit suddenly expanded from 25 to 40 on 9/1), because nothing would change on September 1st. The only difference might be that a club not in contention playing another club not in contention might choose to recall a young player from the minors and place the player on its 25-man active roster for that series. But a club would never have 40 players available in any game. It would be just 25 players designated "active" for each series, whether it be April, September, or the post-season. 

The "26th man" rule would remain in effect for doubleheaders, so that an extra starting pitcher (who is on the 40-man Eligibility List) could be called up from the minors and inserted temporarily into the club's starting rotation so that one of the club's five regular starters wouldn't have to start on three-days' rest.   

Interesting proposal, Phil.

Great suggestion.  One question that I have is how would a one game series would work, for example, a make up game from several month earlier that was rained out.  Assume a team would load up the bullpen with a single starter. 

The only tweek I might suggest is switching the 10 day DL back to a 15 day DL.  I could envision a team's game 1 starter getting a mystery ailment following his start; especially if his next scheduled start would be a bad matchup.  Same for a reliever that was overextended. 

SONICWIND75: A one-game (rain-out make-up game) roster would be handled the same way the Wild Card game is now. As you said it, a single starting pitcher with a loaded bullpen. To make the single isolated game more like a series, the active roster limit could be reduced from 25 to 24 just for that game. 

As for the DL, there was a time many years ago when there was a 15-day DL (maximum two players but only one of whom could be a pitcher), a 21-day DL (maximum three players but no restriction on the number of pitchers), and a 30-day DL (if the 10-day DL and 15-day DL were full). So probably something like that would work, maybe 10 days minimum on the DL for a position player who is injured and replaced during a series, and maybe 15 days minimum on the DL for a pitcher who is injured and replaced during a series.

And again, this would only apply to a player or a pitcher who is injured during a series where the club wishes to replace him immediately on its active roster and not wait until the conclusion of the series to tweak the active roster for the next series. (There would be no point placing a position player or a pitcher on the DL except during a series).  

Another way to do it would be to not allow a starting pitcher to be replaced on the 25-man active roster for that series if he has already started a game in the series. So if a starting pitcher is injured during his start on Friday, he cannot be placed on the DL on Saturday or Sunday. He would have to remain on his club's 25-man active roster for the balance of that series. But if he is injured or gets sick prior to his scheduled start (not too likely, but it could happen), then he could be placed on the DL and replaced by a different pitcher (probably a SP called up from the minors to make the "emergency" start) during the series.

Pretty much the same thing would happen if a starting pitcher goes on Family Medical Emergency/Bereavement Leave or Paternity Leave during a series. He could be replaced on the active roster only if he has not already started a game in the series.   

Another rule change that I really like is the once suggested recently by ex-Orioles manager Buck Showalter. That is, have the DH in both leagues, but the DH can only hit for the starting pitcher. Once the starting pitcher has left the game, the DH is also out of the game. The club would have the option of not using a DH and letting the SP hit (and that might happen if a good-hitting pitcher like Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, or Zack Greinke is the starter, or if an "opener" is employed and the club goes with a so-called "bullpen day") so that the DH would be available to PH in a key spot late in the game instead of hitting in the early innings.   

One other tweak I would use with the DH in this context is if the starting pitcher leaves the game and the DH is removed, the DH can remain in the game and be moved to a defensive position, and the player who is replaced defensively by the DH is replaced in the lineup by the relief pitcher(s). This would put an element of strategy into the use of the DH as it relates to pitching changes and lineup construction that does not presently exist. 

Comparing LaStella to Burgess--oy.  Burgess: 126 career home runs, .446 SLG.  LaStella: 10 home runs, .366 SLG.  Plus it looks like Burgess was still catching high double-digit games through age 35.

Smoky Burgess had been a platoon catcher in the N. L. and pinch-hit occasionally, but it wasn't until 1965 (with the White Sox) that he became almost exclusively a PH: 

Smoky Burgess: 
1965: 308/403/462 (77 games as a PH - 20 hits, 24 RBI, 11 BB, 4 K) 
1966: 318/410/394 (78 games as a PH - 21 hits, 15 RBI, 11 BB, 8 K) 

And of course Tommy LaStella was great in 2018. 

Tommy LaStella: 
2018: 312/398/416 (90 games as a PH - 24 hits, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 13K) 

Manny Mota (with the Dodgers) was an outstanding PH for six seasons (1974-79 - best season 1977): 

Manny Mota:
1977: 395/521/500 (48 games as a PH - 14 hits, 10 BB, ZERO strikeouts) 

Lenny Harris (with the Marlins) had an outstanding season as a PH in 2005: 

Lenny Harris: 
2005: 311/373/426 (67 games as a PH - 19 hits, 14 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K) 

It's an arcane (almost peculiar) skill, but it does have value. What makes it fairly rare is that the player has to be bad enough defensively or old enough where playing a defensive position (and therefore playing at least fairly regularly) is not a consideration, but at the same time he can't be enough of an offensive force to be a DH. That's the case with guys like Mota, Harris, and LaStella (Burgess pre-dated the DH). They are (or were) very tough outs and can hit "cold" off the bench, but they would have virtually no value as a DH because they lack HR power. 

Also, Burgess, Mota, and Harris were 40 years old (or pushing 40) when they had their great years as a PH. It's odd that someone as young as LaStella would be included in that group. 

Yes, I was surprised when I looked Burgess up the other day; I didn't realize he was that good. I was in junior high when he was with the White Sox--those teams, with Hoyt Wilhelm, Joe Horlen, Tommy John, Tommie Agee, etc., were fun to watch. I remember Burgess as a rather rotund fellow, with a compact, quick swing. 

"rare skill": timing a fastball after just being awakened

Russell tendered a contract, although based on Theo's statement, it might have been a procedural step to extend the timeframe for another move.

Torreyes, Webster, and Hancock not offered a contract. WTF?

hancock's shoulder is trashy...webster, meh...torreyes is a bit surprising.

SF cut hunter strickland for some reason.  that should work out well for him unless he's injured.  same for blake parker (LAA).

the cano trade (SEA/NYM) seems to be going toward the finish line and it's crazy loaded...

"Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the blockbuster trade between the Mariners and Mets needs to pass three hurdles before it can be made official.

The teams have agreed on a trade sending Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets with Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista going to the Mariners. The players have to pass their physicals, the commissioner's office needs to sign off on the tens of millions of dollars exchanging hands and Cano has to officially waive his no-trade rights."

I know nothing about the Mets minor leaguers but they're giving up they're #3, and #4 on MLB top prospects.  Does anybody else have a better insight?

allegedly the M's are throwing in a nice chunk of loot, too...but it's all very sketchy with people speculating how much.

-edit- $20m going to the mets is the final $$ involved per j.heyman and others

that effectively makes r.cano worth 5/100m to the mets (age 36-40) and they get rid of dead weight in $8.5m (swarzak) + $28m (bruce) if you want to further discount the financial impact.

PHIL -- You're proposal makes a lot of sense and solves a lot of problems that I think the MLB has been trying (unsuccessfully in my opinion) to address.  That includes changing from a 15-day disabled list to a 10-day disabled list.  How do we get this message to someone who matters (Clearly my support means nothing)?

Eddie Butler to Korean league.

paul goldschmidt is a cardinal.  damn.

luke weaver, carson kelly, and andrew young (and the cards round b competitive advantage pick).

that was not cheap.

Glad to see Weaver move out of the division. 

Was hoping that some of Goldschmidt’s power lay in part to the home ballpark. Nope. No big home/road splits. In fact, he hit much better on the road last year to the tune of 339/415/638. Damn

Your move now, Theo 

Hefty price.  I thought comp draft picks were only tradeable during the season.

edit - fron Phil's outstanding work.  "A Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only during a period of time starting on December 2nd and extending up until two hours prior to the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft). The slot cannot be traded for cash unless it is a financial adjustment made to offset the salary of one or more of the players involved in the trade. Also, a Competitive Balance draft slot can be traded only once (only by the club that was awarded the pick). Once traded, the slot cannot be "flipped" to a third club"

31 yr old Goldschmidt will be a free agent after the 2019 season so the upside occurs mainly if he re-signs w StL. If he has a typical PG season,  that will probably be a huge contract since Goldschmidt ‘s initial contract was team friendly and he gave AZ a one year extension with a home town discount. I’m hearing he now wants to get a big payday with free agency to make up for that. I’m thinking he’s a Yankee in 2020. Cards also have other free agents after next year including pitchers Mikolas, Wacha

he also comes really cheap at 14.5m next year.  offering him a QO is pretty much a no-brainer if healthy, too.

twins sign occasional cubbie r.torreyes 1/800K (if he breaks with the team on the roster)

tommy hottovy finally gets around to making his contract with the cubs finalized to be the new pitching coach.

he knocks kyle snyder out of the top spot to claim the youngest pitching coach mark (40 vs 37).

Jesse Rogers‏ @ESPNChiCubs 

Morrow had a scope on his elbow a month ago. Could impact avail in April

Theo: Internal growth more vital than FA splash

https://www.mlb.com/news/theo-epstein-talks-cubs-f...

"We're not ruling anything in. We're not ruling anything out," said Epstein, repeating his comments from last month's GM Meetings. "It's just it's still the status that we have is we'd have to get really creative to add dollars of real significance. That's still the case. Things would have to be sequenced in a certain way."

former cubs luis valbuena killed in a car crash...just barely 33 years old.

oscar de la cruz #15...cold.

it's been painful to watch injuries consistantly screw him over.  he still has a nice arm, but at some point getting him prepared to be a 200ip guy is going to be a long shot.

Cubs best prospect has FV=50. The other teams in our division all have 1 or two players rated higher than 50.  Time to spend some money?

Having high-end prospects isn't about "spending money". It's about doing well in the draft and international phases. In the draft, 26 names will be gone in June before the Cubs select. Internationally, the "smaller market teams" have larger internaa\tional budgets. It's about locating and developing, more than spendig.

That's a pretty direct result of the Chapman and Quintana trades. If the Cubs still had Eloy and Gleyber, they'd be way up there in FV ratings.

Hope we aren't all disappointed in the next week. I think Theo and Jed have a couple of things in the works.

*starts shuffling through a list of players signed to or drafted by BOS from 2002-2011 who are currently free agents*

i got this.

Jed Lowrie, come on down. Add a Will Middlebrooks NRI and call it an offseason. What's Dice-K up to these days? 

h.baines and lee smith elected to HOF (The Today’s Game Committee (formally Veterans Committee))

"The Cubs and Cardinals are among the other teams not engaged in a pursuit of Harper," sources told @Ken_Rosenthal.

Blue Jays release Troy Tulowitzski with $38 million still owed to him.

Worth a shot at MLB minimum.

Brandon Hyde being named Oriole manager Per Rosenthal.

Not official until he passes his physical.

"Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs are in "strong pursuit" of Daniel Descalso."

Sign Spangenberg, Descalsio.

"Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Cubs are one of six teams that have been in contact with free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

The Cubs plan to send a scout to Tulo's upcoming workout to get a feel for what he has left in the tank."

AZ PHIL- Here's a test for you.  Right now who are 5 Cubs players that come Rule 5 roster lock day next year that they are most likely to protect.  Then see at the end of the season how well you did.

Wtf? Why are you ”testing” him? What does he win? I’m sure he can’t wait to see how well he performs on your test and then publishes the results...Go internet!

you're gonna end up in detention if you keep this up

Easy killer.  It was just for fun.  He doesn't need to prove anything.  If I hadn't used the test comment, would you be as offended? Sorry.  Ease up.

Descalso signed. Who cares.

2/4m (3.5m 3rd year option, 1m buyout)

not bad

A contract that should be exceeded.

Works for me.

it's a boring signing, but he's a lefty with a little bit of pop who can come off the bench without looking rusty doing it.

it's probalby better to think of him as a la stella-level replacement as far as his role goes.  they both play meh D.  lastella is a more steady hitter, but you're lucky if you get anything other than a single out of him doing it...descalso has decent pop.

i like the signing, but i'd like that to not involve him getting 400+PA (unless for some reason he turns it the hell on at age 32).

"Cubs signed INF Phillip Evans to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training."

"Cubs signed LHP Mike Zagurski to a minor league contract."

start clearing space for the 2019 world series trophy

big news for the cuba/US player pipeline...

https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-announces-deal-with-c...

"Under this agreement, the FCB must release all players under contract to the FCB who are at least twenty-five (25) years old and have six (6) or more years of playing experience (known as "Foreign Professionals" under MLB rules) to sign with MLB Clubs. The FCB may also release younger players to sign with Major League Clubs. Once a player is released by the FCB, he is free to negotiate and sign with any Major League Club without leaving Cuba, subject to the same collectively bargained rules applicable to all international players. A Major League Club that signs a player released by the FCB pursuant to this agreement will pay the FCB a "release fee," the amount of which is calculated using the same formula contained in MLB's protocol agreements with the NPB, KBO and CPBL."

According to "Cubs Propects" on Tweeter, the Cubs have signed Ali Solis C, James Adducci 1B/OF, Evan Marzilli OF, Jose Cardona OF, Francisco Arcia C, Carlos Ramirez RHP, Ryan Court IF, in addition to Webster and Zagurski. 

 Carrie Muskat‏ @CarrieMuskat

#Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes gets multi year extension. Great news -- and great voice

The greatest play-by-play radio voice of all time, IMO. The equivalent of Lloyd Pettit on hockey. ("A shot- and a goal!") Yes, I'm old.

cards supposedly about to sign andrew miller (RP) to a multi-year deal.

"Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Brewers have agreed to a one-year, deal with Corey Spangenberg.

It's a split contract, says Rosenthal, which will pay Spangenberg $1.2 million if he's on the MLB roster, and $250,000 if he is in Triple-A."

LAD just free'd up a ton of payroll...

y.puig and m.kemp are now in the NL Central with the reds.

Does Harper want a Dodger deal?

harper...machado...trading for kluber...most likely one of those.

The Dodgers just pulled off that salary dump deal with the Reds, is there anybody that would be willing to eat Heyward (who has a partitial no-trade clause), Chatwood, Kintzler package sweetening it with one of Happ, Almora, Russell (if he still holds value).  I'm resisting saying Schwarber (kind of a man crush thing)?

i wonder if the team will just end up cutting chatwood loose if he doesn't show control of his stuff this spring.

he had an epic debut season for the cubs.  i seriously think he only had 4 or 5 outings all season where he pitched decently, starting or relief, and maybe 1 or 2 were solidly good.  some of his wins and no-decisions came in horribly wild starts where the bats bailed him out.  it started off badly and ended up worse even though he was barely used as the season winded down.

I thought that was a lready a given.

Why would someone trade for him if he might still be broken?

i hope it's a given.

he was bad as a starter, worse as a reliever, and he regressed as the season went on...amazingly bad.

it was a team effort that got the cubs the wild card rather than the division, but chatwood made sure he helped out in the decline.

Kendall Graveman has signed. The next Smyly.

Nickname is "Digger." Wears #49 (last worn by Jake Arrieta). 

"12/22 The Cubs have agreed to a deal with free agent pitcher Kendall Graveman, per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers (via Twitter). Graveman gets a major league contract worth $575K for 2019 with a $3MM club option"

i'm not a huge graveman fan (he was the A's opening day starter this year, btw), but that's a nice contract for this type of gamble.

The Cubs were dying to sign him. 

Phil, is there anyone else they are dying to sign?

(☞゚ヮ゚)☞

So is Theo reverting back to his early days with the Cubs where he took coming off injury pitchers with upside for cheap and flipped them?  I know they can stick Graveman on the 60-DL the entire season a la Smyly so it doesn't matter roster wise, but is he trying to rebuild the system that is somewhat depleated knowing judgement day for the Cubs begins in October 2021 when Lester, Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Baez, Montgomery, and Schwarber all become free agents.

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  • Mike Wellman 2 hours 35 min ago (view)

    One 2 women umps in MiLB worked the SB series. Pal of our son’s from LL days was SB clubhouse mgr. this year. He spoke highly of Emma’s work but said visiting teams often did not. Also spoke highly of B-Zo on his brief rehab stay when he bought the team McD’s, a la Prez Dollar Menu. So, 2 Cub branches made playoffs so far. Can the big Cubs make it 3?

     

  • JustSayin' 10 hours 50 min ago (view)

    South Bend won seven post-season games.  No team they played won any against them.  So the Midwest League Cubs run the table and win the Championship!  A couple recurring offensive stars, solid defense and lots of strong pitching did the trick.

     

  • crunch 13 hours 41 min ago (view)

    home or away for WAS...they can throw scherzer, strasburg, or corbin at anyone down the stretch and still have an ace for the 1-game wildcard.

    that should play well into their advantage in the last couple weeks as well as the WC playoff.  if the cubs can't luck their way back into 1st it's going to be a hell of a Wild Card if WAS is in no matter who's on top of the WC standings.

     

  • Charlie 14 hours 15 min ago (view)

    Might as well catch the Cards while they're at it ;)

    Last time I can remember the division and the Wild Card race this tight was 2015. Funny how similar and yet how different that situation was!

     

  • crunch 15 hours 14 min ago (view)

    the funny thing is, like early-career randy johnson, batters are extremely uneasy in the box when facing him.  part of that helps lead to weak contact and Ks...it also leads to walks and HBPs, though...

     

  • Craig A. 15 hours 58 min ago (view)

    Cubs better aim for the first wild card. There’ a very slim chance we beat Washington at home. 

     

  • Craig A. 16 hours 46 sec ago (view)

    So we keep Maples for intimidation?

     

  • crunch 16 hours 34 min ago (view)

    maples showcasing how he can fall apart from batter to batter...from a sick 3-pitch K to a 2-2 HBP to a 3-1 HBP.

    it's all wild, not retalitory...umps in a bad place since warnings were given based on early HBP's by PIT and maples is tossed.  even PIT doesn't think it was intentional and their dugout is calm.

     

  • crunch 17 hours 24 min ago (view)

    236 homers...franchise record previously set in 2004.

    hoerner puts the team over the top.

     

  • crunch 18 hours 22 min ago (view)

    maddon (whether he's here next season or not) seems to be in no hurry to get him work.  it's actually a bit impressive how we've not heard even a shred of shade about his lack of use from descalso.

    ...but he did see what the organization did to pretty much end tony barnette's career...so there's that.  i think lastella ruined throwing roster movement and player use tantrums for everyone.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    I can’t imagine they go into next season like that. He’s been insanely bad.

     

  • crunch 1 day 7 hours ago (view)

    weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

     

  • Eric S 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    He gets infrequent pinch hitting appearances - and seemingly K’s in each one. 

    I guess Descalso is the back up plan to start at second next season should Hoerner get injured while cliff diving or hit by falling space debris in the off season

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    Roller coaster crunch.lol

     

  • crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    i keep forgetting descalso is back with the cubs.  he's practically been shelved on the pine.

     

  • crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjoNZGPQHy_VERs2O...

    South Bend Cubs (YouTube)