Cubs Sign Five More Players to 2017 Minor League Contracts
1/6 UPDATE #2: Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed 32-year old switch-hitting catcher Carlos Corporan to a 2017 minor league contract. He will almost certainly get an NRI to Spring Training.
Corporan has considerable MLB experience (232 games and 780 PA over the course of six seasons with MIL, HOU, and TEX), and he will battle Ali Solis (signed by the Cubs to a 2017 minor league contract last month) for the veteran catcher slot at AAA Iowa and for the Chicago Cubs unofficial #3 catcher gig (would be called up to Chicago if anything happens to Willson Contreras or Miguel Montero). Corporan has hit 218/280/342 over the course of his MLB career (4+019 MLB Service Time).
A native of Puerto Rico, Corporan was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Lake City CC in the 12th round of the 2003 draft. He is a solid defensive catcher, but he struggled mightily at the plate in 2016 (hitting just 197/246/323 in 57 AAA games), first at Durham (TB) and then at New Orleans (MIA), getting released both times. However, Corporan is currently hitting a robust 321/379/425 for Carolina in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (the Puerto Rican winter league), and is 3rd in the PWL in hitting, 5th in OBP, and 6th in doubles.
1/6 UPDATE #1: Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed 3B-1B Chris Dominguez to a 2017 minor league contract. I would think that he will probably get an NRI to Spring Training, and then will provide depth at AAA Iowa.
Now 30 years old, Dominguez was selected by the San Francisco in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft out of the U. of Louisville. He hit 21 HR and drove in 101 runs in his first full season (Lo-A Augusta) in 2010 and was ranked one of the Giants Top 10 prospects by Baseball America and was rated as having the organization's top infield arm going into the 2011 season, but he never reached his potential, spending the past five seasons in AAA with San Franicisco (2012-14), Cincinnati (2015), and Boston (2016).
Dominguez hit 241/275/439 at Pawtucket in 2016 with 13 HR in 77 games (298 PA), missing considerable time with an oblique strain. He has hit just .175 with two HR in two "cups of coffee" in the big leagues (eight games with the Giants in 2014, and 14 games with the Reds in 2015).
ORIGINAL POST (12/24): Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed five more free-agents to 2017 minor league contracts.
All five will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
One of the players is a former Cubs minor leaguer, and the other four have varying degrees of big league experience with other MLB clubs.
1. Daniel Moskos, LHRP
2. Fernando Rodriguez, RHRP
3. Ali Solis, C
4. Elliot Soto, INF
5. Jemile Weeks, IF-OF
Passing on Matt Wieters, Madison Bumgarner, and Jason Heyward, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Clemson LHSP Daniel Moskos their 1st round draft pick (4th overall pick) in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft). Now 30, the well-traveled Moskos had an above-average fastball and a plus-slider as a college pitcher, and in fact his slider was rated by Baseball America as best in the Pirates system two years running after signing. However, Moskos never developed into the elite starting pitcher the Bucs hoped he would be, and after making his big league debut with the Pirates in 2011 (his only MLB Service Time), he was claimed off waivers by the White Sox in 2012 and was outrighted to the minors after that season, then was released in 2013, before pitching in Taiwan and in Mexico. He spent the last couple of seasons as a AAA lefty reliever with the Dodgers and (most-recently) the Padres, and was declared an MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA after the 2016 season. He was suspended by the MLB Commissioner for 50 games in June 2015 after testing positive for a "Drug of Abuse." He will likely serve as a lefty bullpen arm at Iowa in 2017.
A dependable MLB middle-reliever, 32-year old Fernando Rodriguez has (by far) the most big league experience of the quintet (5+032 MLB Service Time through the 2016 season), appearing in 216 MLB games over the course of six seasons with the Angels, the Astros, and the A's. He had his best years with Houston in 2011 and with Oakland in 2015, and he went 2-0 with a 4.20 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 17/37 BB/K and a .210 OppBA in 40.2 IP (34 games) with the A's in 2016, before missing the last half of the season with a torn lat that required surgery. (He is expected to begin throwing in January). He elected to be an Article XIX-A free-agent after being outrighted to AAA by Oakland in October. Rodriguez was drafted by the Angels in the 18th round of the 2003 MLB Rule 4 Draft out of El Paso CC, and made his big league debut (one game) in 2009 after spending seven seasons in the minors. He was signed as a minor league free-agent by the Astros after the 2010 season, and was part of the five-player trade that sent SS Jed Lowrie to Oakland and 1B Chris Carter to Houston in February 2013. While there might not be room for him in the Cubs bullpen coming out of Spring Trainiing, he could log some big league time in Chicago later in the season if and when he proves his lat is 100%.
A Chicago-area native (he attended Dundee-Crown HS), 27-year old Elliot Soto was selected by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2010 draft out of Creighton University, and spent six seasons playing shortstop in the Cubs system before being traded along with RHSP Ivan Pineyro to Miami for RHSP Dan Haren at the trade deadline in July 2015. He spent the 2016 season at AAA New Orleans, and was declared a minor league 6YFA after the 2016 season. Known more for his plus-defense at SS than his bat, Soto has hit just 249/329/299 in 593 minor league games (2,202 PA). So while he isn't a particularly good hitter, has no HR power, and has (at best) average speed for a middle infielder, he can really pick-it at shortstop. In fact he is probably one of the top defensive shortstops in the minors, and he will very likely be the starting SS at Iowa in 2017 (which should make I-Cubs pitchers happy). Soto was suspended for 50 games in 2014 after testing positive for a "Drug of Abuse."
Signed as a 17-year old out of Mexicali, Mexico by the Padres in 2005, Ali Solis played (very briefly) for Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay in 2014, and he also saw service in the big leagues with San Diego in 2012 (he went a combined 0-10 with a sacrifice bunt in 13 MLB games between SD and TB). While Solis is a first-rate defensive catcher, he has hit just 219/266/326 in 561 minor league games (1,996 PA) in 11 seasons. He most-recently served as a back-up catcher in AAA with the Dodgers (2015) and with the Red Sox (2016), becoming a minor league 6YFA after the 2016 season. He will likely replace Tim Federowicz as the veteran catcher at AAA Iowa in 2017 (backing up Victor Caratini), and because of his experience and defensive expertise, Solis (not Caratini) would probably get first-call to Chicago if anything happens to Willson Contreras or Miguel Montero. Although he was signed by the previous regime, Solis was in the Padres organization when Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were running things in San Diego 2009-11, so it's not like he is a stranger to the Cubs braintrust. Solis is presently playing winter ball for Culiacan in Liga Mexicano del Pacifico (LMP), as he does every year.
Soon to be 30, switch-hitting speedy Jemile Weeks is the younger brother of long-time Milwaukee Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks Jr. Jemile was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the 1st round (12th overall) of the 2008 MLB Rule 4 Draft out of the U. of Miami, and was rated by Baseball America as one of the A's Top 10 prospects his first three seasons in pro ball. He made his MLB debut in 2011 with the A's, hitting an impressive 303/340/421 with 26 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 97 games. However, he was unable to sustain his success in 2012, hitting just .221 and getting demoted back to AAA. He has spent most of the last five seasons in AAA with occasional call-ups to the big leagues with OAK, BAL, BOS, and (most-recently) SD, morphing into an athletic super-sub AAA utility guy (2B-3B-SS-CF-LF), and that will likely be his role at Iowa in 2017. Weeks spent most of the 2016 season on the Padres MLB 60-day DL with a hamstring injury, and he elected to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent after being sent outright to AAA El Paso in October.
Dolorous Jon Lester 15 min 30 sec ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 9 hours 1 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 10 hours 55 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 11 hours 39 min ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 14 min ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 16 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 13 hours 21 min ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 13 hours 22 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 13 hours 33 min ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.
crunch 13 hours 39 min ago (view)
i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.
even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 1 min ago (view)
At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...).
Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.
Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 4 min ago (view)
I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 15 min ago (view)
With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).
Arizona Phil 14 hours 35 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.
So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.
The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).
Arizona Phil 14 hours 57 min ago (view)
Keep in mind that as things stand right now the Cubs projected 2021 MLB payroll is almost $50M under the 2021 CBT threshold (which will be $210M), so they don't have to worry about contract AAV if they can sign a player to a multi-year deal with a low 2021 base salary and then substantially higher salaries post-2021 (when they should be able to generate their normal attendance-based revenues --.presuming CoViD-19 is no longer a problem by that time).
Arizona Phil 15 hours 37 min ago (view)
TIME OUT: As I mentioned in the post, the Cubs cannot cut Schwarber's base salary more than 20% without first non-tendering him, so if he is agreeable the Cubs could sign him for a relatively low base 2021 salary (something like $5M) combined with performance bonuses based upon actual PA (not pro-rated PA) maybe totaling $5M (which would cover the Cubs if the 2021 season is truncated), and then maybe an additional year or two (2022-23) for something like $10M per year plus performance bonuses (again, based on PA). Schwarber could get a player opt-out as well post-2021.