The Bourjos Conundrum
The Cubs released OF Peter Bourjos prior to the 12 PM (Eastern) deadline on Saturday.
3/22 ORIGINAL POST:
An Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day and then is either not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or MLB 60-day Disabled List by 12 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day will automatically receive a $100,000 retention bonus, and the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or an MLB Disabled List by that date.
CUBS ARTICLE XX-B MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS SPRING TRAINING 2018:
So, the Cubs need to decide by mid-day Saturday what they want to do with Peter Bourjos.
Here are their choices:
They could just release him and forget about him.
Or they could release him and then (if he agrees) re-sign him to a different minor league contract (because it would be signed less than ten days prior to MLB Opening Day, there would be no retention bonus or automatic player opt-out). The new contract would not likely include a retention bonus but it could include an earlier player opt-out date (the Cubs did this with Munenori Kawasaki a couple of years ago).
Or they could assign him to Iowa and pay the retention bonus and deal with the player opt-out when it gets closer to June 1st.
Or they could add him to their MLB 40-man roster (and Opening Day 25-man roster).
The problem with adding Bourjos to the MLB 40-man roster (and Opening Day 25-man roster) is that it will be difficult to send him to the minors if his spot on the 25 is needed at a later point in time. Bourjos does have minor league options available, but once he is added to the 40 Bourjos must give his consent before he can be optioned or sent outright to the minors. And this is NOT the same thing as having the right to elect to be a free-agent if sent to the minors. He has that, too. It's just that the Cubs can't even attempt to send him to the minors unless he gives his consent. So if the Cubs add Bourjos to the 40 and find out later that they need his spot on the 40 (or even just on the 25), they would have to either release him (and be on the hook for his $1.4M major league salary) or trade him (if anybody is interested)... unless he consents to a minor league assignment (not likely).
Last year the White Sox signed Bourjos to a minor league contract prior to Spring Training, and once they decided he wasn't a fit on their MLB 25-man roster, they traded him (and his Article XX-B rights) to the Tampa Bay Rays. And Bourjos ended up spending the entire 2017 season in MLB with the Rays. Perhaps something like that could happen again this year.