Cubs Sign Four More Free-Agents to Minor League Contracts, Invite 24 NRI
Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed four more free-agents to 2017 minor league contracts.
Two of the players are former Cubs minor leaguers, and two have varying degrees of big league experience with other MLB clubs.
1. Frank Batista, RHP
2. Todd Glaesmann, OF
3. Jim Henderson, RHRP
4. Casey Kelly, RHSP
Frank Batista is a long-time Cubs minor league pitcher, signing with the Cubs as a 19-year old out of the Dominican Republic in January 2009. Now 27, the 5'10 Batista has served as a RH "swing-man" in the upper minors (AA Tennessee & AAA Iowa) since 2012 (he also spent six weeks with Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League in 2014). He missed the 2016 season after undergoing TJS in April (he also suffered a knee injury in Spring Training), so re-signing with the Cubs will allow him to continue his rehab at the Cubs UAPC at Riverview Park in Mesa, with a possible return to either Tennessee or Iowa later in the season.
An athletic "five-tool player," Todd Glaesmann was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft out of Midway HS in Waco, TX. A star QB and WR in HS, the 6'4 225 Glaesmann gave up the opportunity to play both baseball and football at Texas A&M (Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha were in the same A&M recruiting class), instead opting to sign with Tampa Bay ($930,000 "over-slot" signing bonus). Baseball America ranked Glaesmann as the #15 prospect in the Appalachian League in 2010, and one of the Rays Top 25 prospects three times 2010-12. BA also rated Glaesmann as having the best outfield arm in the Rays system 2010-11 and the best power-hitting prospect in the Rays system and the best defensive outfielder in the Midwest League in 2012. Although he is an outstanding OF defender, it became fairly obvious pretty early on that Glaeasman was a high-K/low average "free-swinger" (hitting 260/309/435 in 705 career minor league games through 2016), showing HR power (21 HR in 2012 and 19 HR in 2015) but not much else at the plate. He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2013 as the Player to Be Named Later in a five-player deal that sent RHRP Heath Bell from Arizona to Tampa Bay, only to suddenly retire two months later (ostensibly to play college football at Baylor), before returning to baseball again in mid-2014. Now 26, Glaesmann, has bounced back & forth between AA & AAA the past four seasons, and he will likely serve as the 4th OF either at AAA Iowa or at AA Tennessee in 2017.
Jim Henderson was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 26th round of the 2003 draft out of Tennessee Weslyan College. He was selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft in December 2006, and spent the next two seasons as a reliever at AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa. He had back problems throughout his Cubs stint and was released at the end of Minor League Camp in March 2009. He then signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he spent the next six seasons, finally making his MLB debut on July 26, 2012 at the age of 29, nine years after signing his first pro contract. Henderson had some decent seasons working out of the bullpen for the Brewers 2012-14 (he racked up 28 saves and 75 K in 50 IP as the Brewers closer in 2013) and then later as a middle-reliever for the New York Mets in 2016. In between he has had several shoulder and triceps injuries that have negatively-impacted his career. Now 34 years old, Henderson reportedly has opt-out clauses in his contract (3/29 and 6/1), but if the Cubs want to get around that they could just add him to their MLB 40-man roster prior to the opt-out date(s) and option him to the minors (he has three minor league options left, and while he has enough MLB Service Time to elect free-agency if outrighted, he does not yet have the five years of MLB Service Time required to refuse an optional assignment to the minors).
The son of 2B Pat Kelly (played in MLB 1991-99, mostly with the Yankees), Casey Kelly was a Louisville Slugger 1st team All-American, Florida 6-A Player of the Year, and Florida "Mr. Baseball" in 2008 (he was a "two-way player" in HS - SS/RHP). He was also an All-Regional HS QB at Sarasota HS (signed NLI with U. of Tennessee to play football & baseball). He was selected in the 1st round (#30 overall) of the 2008 draft as a shortstop by the Boston Red Sox (back when Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were in beantown) -- receiving a $3M "over-slot" signing bonus -- at which point he agreed to give-up football. He was ranked the Gulf Coast League #6 prospect (as a shortstop) by Baseball America in 2008 (he played only SS in his first year in pro ball, before switching back to RHP at Instructs post-2008). Kelly was ranked as the Red Sox #6 prospect (as a RHP) by Baseball America and was rated as having the Best Curveball in the Red Sox system by Baseball America after the 2008 season. He was a Futures Game All-Star in 2009, and was ranked the #2 prospect in the South Atlantic League, the #6 Carolina League Prospect, and the Red Sox #2 prospect by BA, and was named Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, and was rated as having the Best Fastball, Best Curveball, Best Change-up, and Best Control in the Boston Red Sox system by Baseball America after the 2009 season. Baseball America ranked Kelly the #10 Prospect in the Eastern League and the Arizona Fall League #8 prospect in 2010, and then he was traded to the San Diego Padres with 1B Anthony Rizzo, OF Raymond Fuentes, and IF-OF Eric Patterson for 1B Adrian Gonzalez in December 2010 (by this time, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod had left the Red Sox and were running the Padres). Kelly was ranked as the Padres #1 prospect by Baseball America after the 2010 season, and the #7 Texas League prospect and the Padres #3 prospect after the 2011 season. The Padres selected Kelly's contract and added him to their MLB 40-man roster in August 2012 (6.21 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 29 IP and six GS for SD in 2012). He was ranked the Padres #1 prospect by BA after the 2012 season, before having TJS in April 2013 and missing all of the 2013 season and most of the 2014 season (he had problems with his right elbow flexor in 2014 while rehabbing from the TJS, further delaying his return to the mound). Even so, he was still ranked as the Padres #5 prospect by Baseball America after the 2013 season and the Padres #17 prospect after the 2014 season. He finally returned to full action in 2015 but struggled at AA San Antonio before a brief (and ineffective) call-up to San Diego, and then he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for C Christian Bethancourt in December 2015. Kelly spent most of the 2016 season at AAA Gwinnett, but he did make ten appearances (one GS) with the Braves (5.82 ERA & 1.71 WHIP in 21.2 IP). He was sent outright to AAA Gwinnett last November, and was declared a minor league 6YFA after the World Series. Kelly will likely serve as a SP with AAA Iowa in 2017. He has one minor league option left, so if he is added to the MLB 40-man roster at some point it would not be a problem to send him back (and forth) to Iowa as necessary.
CUBS SPRING TRAINING NON-ROSTER INVITEES: 24
* Gerardo Concepcion
* Manny Parra
* Zac Rosscup
# Carlos Corporan
# Ian Happ
* Munenori Kawasaki
# Jemile Weeks
waveland 8 hours 16 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 10 hours 11 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 10 hours 55 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 11 hours 30 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 12 hours 32 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 12 hours 37 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 12 hours 38 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 12 hours 49 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 12 hours 55 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 13 hours 17 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 13 hours 20 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 13 hours 31 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 13 hours 50 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 12 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 14 hours 53 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.
crunch 17 hours 26 min ago (view)
it's not surprising, but i also don't see the downside of giving him the $8m-ish he'd be owed.
if you can hit 30+ homers that's usually money you can easily go get.
i seriously wonder about this offseason and the amount of investment the cubs are going to make in the team. i mean, it's fine if they go cheap yet somehow field a great team via off-season trades or other forms of black magic...i just don't trust how this off-season is unfolding so far.