Cubs Re-Sign Davis
The Cubs have signed 28-year old RHSP Allen Webster to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. Whether he will receive an NRI to Spring Training at this late date is TBD.
Webster was the 2008 18th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Dalton L. McMichael HS in Mayodan, NC, and was at one time rated by Baseball America as one of the Dodgers Top Ten prospects (2009-12) and one of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball 2013-14. He also was rated as having one of the best change-ups and one of the best sliders in the minors at that time. But he was unable to establish himself in MLB 2013-15 after being traded to the Boston Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2012 and then with the Arizona Diamondbacks after being traded to the D'backs as part of a trade for Wade Miley in December 2014, and he was released post-2015 to pursue an opportunity to continue his career in South Korea.
Webster pitched for the Samsung Lions in the KBO in 2016, before returning to the U. S. and signing a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers a year ago last November. He spent the 2017 season at AAA Round Rock, where he struggled to a 6.79 ERA - 1.66 WHIP - .329 OppBA with 14 HR allowed and 20/44 BB/K in 58.1 IP (12 G - 11 GS).
Webster is out of minor league options should he be added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) at some point in 2018, but he does not have Article XX-D status and so he would not have the right to elect free-agency if he is added to the 40 and then subsequently is outrighted back to the minors.
Meanwhile he will be competing for a spot on the Iowa Cubs pitching staff, probably in a RP/SP "swingman" role.
The Cubs have signed 28-year old LHP Danny Hultzen to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. Whether he will get an NRI to Spring Training or just report to Minor League Camp is still TBD.
Hultzen was the 2011 1st round draft pick (2nd overall pick in the draft) of the Seattle Mariners out of the U. of Virginia. He signed right at the August 15th deadline (the signing deadline was moved up a month beginning with the 2012 draft) and received a five-year major league contract worth $8.5M that included a $6.35M signing bonus (beginning in 2012, players selected in the MLB Rule 4 Draft could not be signed to a major league contract).
At the time he was drafted, Hultzen featured a 91-93 MPH fastball that touched 96, a plus-CH, a solid-SL, and excellent control. He was also an excellent hitter at UVA, serving as a DH on days he wasn't pitching. In his college career, Hultzen hit 314/400/431 with four HR & 83 RBI, 28 doubles, and 18 SB in 124 games (465 PA).
Because Hultzen was Signed for Future Service (he signed a 2012 contract), he made his pro debut with the Peoria Javelinas in the post-season Arizona Fall League (AFL) and was one of the best pitchers in the AFL that year (he was rated the #3 prospect in the AFL by Baseball America), leading some observers to predict that he would begin the 2012 season in the Mariners' MLB starting rotation.
Hultzen had a good Spring Training with the M's in 2012, but was optioned to AA Jackson. He dominated the Southern League (1.19 ERA - 0.93 WHIP - .151 OppBA in 13 GS and 75.1 IP) and was promoted to AAA Tacoma (PCL) in June, where for the first time in his life, he struggled and appeared to lose confidence in his stuff (5.92 ERA - 1.89 WHIP, with 43 walks in just 48.2 IP). At this point he reportedly tinkered with his mechanics and ended up tearing the labrum in his left shoulder in the process. He underwent shoulder surgery to repair the tear in 2013, but the surgery was not particularly successful, so he underwent shoulder surgery again three years later before retiring from baseball and returning to UVA to finish his degree.
No question Hultzen was at one time one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but he has thrown only 45.2 innings since 2012. Cubs AA Tennessee pitching coach Terry Clark was the Mariners Minor League Pitching Coordinator back when Hultzen was in the Seattle organization, so Clark may have had some influence in Hultzen's decision to return to baseball and/or to sign with the Cubs.
Hultzen is out of minor league options should he be added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) at some point in 2018. However, he does not have Article XX-D status and so he would not have the right to elect free-agency if he is added to the 40 and then subsequently is outrighted back to the minors.
The Cubs have signed RHRP Shae Simmons to a major league contract (- NOT - a minor league contract as was first reported two days ago -- see 2/14 UPDATE below) and it has been filed with the MLB office. It's possible that he received a major league contract rather than a minor league deal so that a performance bonus could be included -- TBD. (Performance bonuses are not permitted in minor league contracts).
Simmons will reportedly be paid a $750K base salary if he is on the MLB Active List (25-man roster) or MLB DL and a $120K minor league "split" salary if he is on optional assignment to the minors or if he is sent outright to the minors.
So Simmons has been added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), and LHSP Drew Smyly (July 2017 TJS) has been placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day DL to make room for Simmons on the 40.
Simmons has used only one minor league option through the 2017 season so he can be optioned to the minors in 2018 without restriction. He will even be eligible for a 4th minor league option in 2020 should that become an issue down the road. However, Simmons is an Article XX-D player and so he has the right to elect free-agency if he were to be sent outright to the minors. He could elect free-agency immediately upon being outrighted, or he could accept the outright assignment and defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season (presuming he isn't added back to the MLB 40-man roster in the meantime).
The Cubs have reportedly signed 27-year old RHRP Shae Simmons to a 2018 minor league contract (pending a physical). He will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training and then compete for the closer job at Iowa.
Simmons was selected by the Atlanta Braves out of Southeast Missouri State in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft. He was rated a Braves Top 15 prospect by Baseball America in 2014, as he rocketed through the Atlanta system to MLB in less than two years (he went directly from AA to MLB). He was an outstanding minor league closer, racking up 38 saves over the course of 1-1/2 seasons 2013-14 (including 149 K in just 102 IP). He missed part of the 2014 season with shoulder and elbow problems and then missed the entire next season after undergoing elbow UCL reconstruction (Tommy John Surgery) in February 2015. He featured a 95-97 MPH FB (T-100), a hard slider, and slow curve pre-TJS, but it has been a slow boat to recovery.
The 5'11 170 Simmons was traded by the Braves to the Seattle Mariners just over a year ago, but he spent most of the 2017 season on the Mariners 60-day DL with a right forearm strain before finally returning to MLB action in September (7.04 ERA in nine games).
Because he spent so much time on MLB Disabled Lists 2014-17, Simmons already has accrued 3+111 MLB Service Time and became eligible for salary arbitration post-2017. But the Mariners opted to non-tender him on 12/1, making him a free-agent. He is the second pitcher non-tendered by the Mariners post-2017 to sign with the Cubs (LHSP Drew Smyly is the other one, but Smyly signed a major league contract).
Simmons has minor league options left should he be added to the Cubs 40-man roster at some point in the 2018 season, and he would have the right to elect free-agency if he were to be added to the 40 and then subsequently be sent outright to the minors. He also is eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 second-contract free-agent post-2018 if he is not added to an MLB 40-man roster in the meantime (just like Matt Carasiti was post-2017).
The Cubs have signed veteran OF Peter Bourjos to a 2018 minor league contract. He has been assigned to AAA Iowa and will receive an NRI to Spring Training.
As a post-2017 Article XX-B MLB free-agent, Bourjos will receive an automatic $100,000 retention bonus if he is not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 40-man roster (or MLB 60-day DL) by 12 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day, and he can unilaterally "opt-out" of the minor league contract if he is not called-up from the minors by June 1st.
Other than several minor league rehab assignments (a fractured wrist & a hamstring strain in 2013, a shoulder strain in 2016, and right elbow inflammation in 2017), Bourjos has not spent any time in the minors since 2010, so it's unlikely he will be at Iowa on Opening Day. This type of contract is more like what used to be called a "make good" contract back in the day, where a veteran player signs a minor league contract and gets an NRI to Spring Training but it's understood he probably will get released or traded if he doesn't make the club's MLB Opening Day 25-man roster.
For example, Bourjos signed a minor league contract with the White Sox exactly one year ago today and got an NRI to Spring Training, and after it became clear that he wasn't going to make the Sox MLB Opening Day 25-man roster, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for a PTBNL (or cash) near the end of Spring Training, and then the Rays assumed the Article XX-B obligations and added him to their MLB 25-man roster on Opening Day. Something like that could happen again in 2018 if Bourjos doesn't make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster.
A native of Park Ridge, IL, Bourjos is the son of ex-SF OF Chris Bourjos and was the 10th round draft pick of the Angels out of Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, AZ in 2005 (he was a teammate of ex-Cubs minor league catcher Michael Brenly at Notre Dame Prep). He is the third one-time Los Angeles Angels draft pick to sign with the Cubs in the last week (see 1/25 and 1/29 UPDATES below).
Bourjos was ranked as the Angels' #2 prospect and a Top 100 Prospect as well as one of the fastest baserunners and best defensive outfielders in the minors by Baseball America going into the 2010 season, but the 30-year old (soon to be 31) has never reached his post-2009 projections, spending the last eight seasons bouncing around MLB (LAA, STL, PHI, and TB) as a "4th OF" while hitting a combined 241/298/382 in 813 MLB games. He has lost a step over the years so he is no longer an elite runner, but he does have considerable big league experience and the versatility and athleticism to play all three OF slots. Whether there will be a spot for him in Wrigley Field in 2018 remains to be seen, but as of right now it doesn't appear like there will be unless something bad happens to Albert Almora Jr during Spring Training.
Bourjos is probably more Spring Training insurance than he is AAA depth at this point.
The Cubs have signed 31-year old 1B-OF Efren Navarro to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. While Navarro was signed after the Cubs released their Spring Training NRI list, he almost certainly will get an invite to big league camp.
The left-handed hitting & throwing Navarro is the second one-time Los Angeles Angels draft-pick to sign a 2018 minor league contract with the Cubs in the last week (see 1/25 UPDATE below). He was the 50th round draft pick of the Angels out of UNLV in 2007, and he spent nine seasons in the Angels organization. He got some big league time (120 games total) with the Halos in 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015, before moving on, subsequently spending time in AAA with the Seattle Mariners and the St. Louis Cardinals plus a short-stay with the Tijuana Toros (Mexican League) in 2016 before signing a minor league contract with Detroit in 2017 and resurfacing in MLB with the Tigers last September (23 games).
A California native, Navarro is an outstanding defensive 1st baseman ("Gold Glove" caliber) and a passable corner outfielder. He has played over 800 games at the AAA level 2011-17, hitting a solid 276/370/395 for AAA Toledo in 2017 before getting a September call-up to Detroit. Navarro has hit 243/306/334 in 153 MLB games (349 PA) in his career (1+103 MLB Service Time), with three HR and 16 doubles. He is the personification of a "4-A" player.
While Navarro will ostensibly replace Chris Dominguez as the primary 1st baseman at AAA Iowa in 2018, there is no guarantee that he will be in the Iowa Opening Day lineup or that he will even be on the I-Cubs Opening Day roster. The Cubs might prefer to alternate Victor Caratini and Taylor Davis at 1st base on days they are not catching, plus Bijan Rademacher, Jason Vosler, and Ryan Court will probably need to get some reps at 1st base as well.
One thing Navarro will do for sure is provide an illusion of competition for Anthony Rizzo at Cubs Spring Training. All players need to visualize a competitor (even if the competitor has absolutely no chance to actually win) to maintain drive and focus. Navarro will also be a late-inning "caddy" for Rizzo in Cactus League games.
And of course there is always a chance that Navarro has a really good year at AAA and then gets a call-up to MLB sometime late in the season (like maybe in September).
If Navarro does get called-up to MLB in 2018, he does have one minor league option left (so he could easily and without restriction ride the "Des Moines - Chicago shuttle" if need be), and (because he has been outrighted previously in his career) he has the right to elect to be a free-agent if he were to be called-up to MLB and then subsequently be outrighted back to the minors.
The Cubs have signed 27-year old LHP Michael Roth to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. The signing came a few hours after the Cubs released their Spring Training NRI list, so it's possible that Roth will get an NRI, too.
Roth was the 9th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels out of the U. of South Carolina in 2012, receiving a very much "underslot" $20,000 bonus as a 22-year old college senior after leading the Gamecocks to back-to-back College World Series Championships in 2010 (as a sophomore) and 2011 (as a junior).
A polished "high floor/low ceiling" crafty lefty who features a mid-80's cutter, a plus-change, a slow curve, and a funky delivery with varying arm angles, Roth was rated the Angels #30 prospect by Baseball America after his 2012 pro debut. And he didn't need much time in the minors before making his MLB debut, either, reaching the big leagues a scant nine months after signing with the Halos. He has subsequently spent parts of three seasons in MLB (23 games - 36 IP - 0+099 MLB Service Time) with the Angels (2013-14) and the Texas Rangers (2016), working mostly out of the bullpen to an ugly 8.50 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, and .337 OppBA, while struggling (unsuccesfully, so far) to establish himself at the big league level.
The 6'1 210 lefty "swingman" split the 2017 season between Sacramento (Giants AAA affiliate) and Durham (Rays AAA affiliate), going a combined 6-8 with a 4.84 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, a .301 OppBA, and 29/79 BB/K in 111.2 IP (25 games - 20 GS). His best year in the minors was at Round Rock (Rangers AAA affiliate) in 2015, when he posted an 11-5 record with an impressive 2.97 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .252 OppBA, and 42/94 BB/K in 145.1 IP (28 games - 23 GS).
Roth has spent considerable time in his six-year pro career on MLB 40-man rosters, and he is out of minor league options. He also has been outrighted previously in his career (three times to be exact), so he has the right to elect free-agency if he were to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster at some point in 2018 and then is subsequently sent outright to the minors. So he really isn't built for the "Des Moines - Chicago shuttle." Probably more like AAA depth with a possibility of a late-season call-up if he pitches "lights-out" at Iowa.
The Cubs have signed veteran catcher Chris Gimenez to a 2018 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. He will almost certainly receive an NRI to Spring Training, and he also stands a good chance to make the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster, since the Cubs would probably prefer that top catching prospect Victor Caratini gets more experience and more-regular playing time at AAA in 2018.
The 35-year old Gimenez has spent all or parts of nine separate seasons as a back-up catcher in MLB (5+163 MLB Service Time), including three separate tours with the Cleveland Indians (he was a back-up catcher for the World Series-bound Tribe in 2016), plus one season with the Seattle Mariners, two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays (where he was one of Joe Maddon's back-up catchers), two seasons with the Texas Rangers (he was Yu Darvish's "personal" catcher in 2014), and finally last season with the Minnesota Twins.
The 6'2 230 backstop was the 19th round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2004 out of the University of Nevada, and he is a lifetime 218/309/345 hitter over the course of 361 MLB games (1,001 PA). He hit 220/350/382 with seven HR and nine doubles for the Twins in 74 games (225 PA) in 2017, maintaning his usual 27% CS % from behind the plate. However, he was third in the A. L. in passed balls.
In addition to being a catcher, Gimenez also plays 1B-3B-LF, so he can move around a bit more than your typical MLB catcher (Gimenez is somewhat like Willson Contreras in that respect).
The Cubs have signed 27-year old free-agent OF Wynton Bernard to a 2018 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. Whether he will receive an NRI to Spring Training is still TBD, although it's probably likely that he will.
Bernard is the second free-agent outfielder signed by the Cubs to a 2018 minor league contract in the last week (see 1/12 UPDATE below).
Bernard was the 2012 35th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres as a senior out of Niagara University, the kind of guy clubs sign to provide depth at Extended Spring Training. He spent two very undistinguished seasons toiling with short-season affiliates in the Padres organization before being released.
Not willing to give up his dream, Bernard signed a minor league contract with Detroit after impressing the Tigers at an off-season open tryout camp in Lakeland. FL (he was the only one of 120 players at the tryout to be offered a contract), and he proceeded to put up an all-star career-type year at Lo-A Western Michigan in 2014, raking to the tune of 323/394/442 with 30 doubles and 45 stolen bases and earning himself a promotion to the Tigers MLB 40-man roster. (Bernard was eligible to be a Rule 55 second-contract minor league free-agent post-2014 if he had not been added to the 40).
The 6'2 speedy Southern Californian followed up his impressive 2014 season by skipping-over Hi-A and hitting 301/352/408 with 29 doubles and 43 stolen bases at AA Erie in 2015. He was ranked the Tigers #24 prospect by Baseball America going into the 2016 season, but he struggled at AAA Toledo and was demoted back to AA mid-season before being sent outright to the minors in June. Because he was a Rule 55 second-contract player, Bernard was declared a minor league free-agent after the 2016 season.
Bernard signed a 2017 minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants and spent this past season at AAA Sacramento, where he hit 254/303/347 in 82 PCL games as the River Cats 4th OF. He was once again declared a Rule 55 second-contract minor league free-agent this past November.
Bernard is a legit CF with plus-speed who can play all three outfield positions, and he will compete for the 4th OF gig at AAA Iowa in 2018. He has one minor league option left if he is added to the 40 at some point in 2018, and (because he has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career) he has the right to elect free-agency if he is added to the 40 and then subsequently sent outright to the minors.
It is not inconceivable that Bernard could get a September call-up and be used as a pinch-runner and a late-inning defensive replacement in the outfield.
The Cubs Mental Skills Department is going to LOVE this guy.
The Cubs have re-signed 25-year old OF Trey Martin to a 2018 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. Whether he will receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club is TBD.
Martin was the Cubs 13th round draft pick in 2011 out of Brookwood HS in Snellville,GA, and after spending seven seasons in the Cubs system, he was declared a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA on November 6th.
Although Martin has been assigned to the Iowa reserve list and will be given a chance to win a job with the I-Cubs in Spring Training, he projects as the #1 CF at AA Tennessee in 2018 (he is blocked by Albert Almora Jr in Chicago and by Jacob Hannemann at Iowa).
Martin is probably the best defensive CF in the Cubs organization (MLB or minor league), but he has struggled at the plate throughout his career. However, he did show some signs odf life at AA Tennessee in 2017, and hopefully he can build on that going forward.
The Cubs have signed 25-year old free-agent LHSP Daniel Camarena to a 2018 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. Whether he will receive an NRI to Spring Training is still TBD, but most players signed as minor league free-agents do get an NRI as part of the deal.
Camarena was a two-way player (LHP/OF) at Cathedral Catholic HS in San Diego and was the Yankees' 20th round draft pick in 2011, receiving a $335K over-slot signing bonus (equivalent to "3rd round money") to give up a chance to both pitch and play outfield at the University of San Diego (where he would have been a teammate of Kris Bryant). He signed at the deadline (back when the signing deadline was 8/15) and was assigned to the GCL Yankees although he did not pitch in any GCL games in 2011 (he made his pro debut at post-2011 Instructs). But by signing a 2011 contract instead of a 2012 future services contract, Camarena became eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2017 instead of post-2018 (he must have had a sharp agent!).
The 6'1 210 lefty missed the 2015 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow, but recovered well enough to throw 260 innings over the past two seasons.
Camarena is a somewhat unusual minor league 6YFA in that he has no MLB experience and not a lot of AAA time, either (212.1 IP at AA and 41.2 at AAA in 2016-17), but he is a decent prospect with some upside (he could even be one of the Cubs Top 30 prospects going into 2018). He features a 90-92 MPH FB (touches 93), a plus CH, and two breaking balls (CV and SL), with a 3.67 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .250 OppBA, 48 HR allowed, and 116/402 BB/K in 532.2 career minor league IP (107 G - 94 GS).
The Cubs have released recently-signed RHSP Tyler Wilson (see 1/2 UPDATE below) so that he can sign with the LG Twins (KBO). The Cubs could receive a cash payment from the LG Twins in return for releasing Wilson (the typical NPB or KBO release fee for a player on an MLB 40-man roster is $1M, but it is usually more in the $250K - $500K range for a player on a minor league reserve list), although because he has been in the Cubs organization only a few days, did not receive a signing bonus, and has not yet been paid any salary, it's also possible that the Cubs just did him a solid and released him without compenstion.
Wilson signed a 2018 minor league contract with the Cubs over the Christmas holidays (contract was submitted to MLB and approved this past Tuesday), so the opportunity to pitch in Korea must have been presented to Wilson only within the last few days. As was the case with RHRP Matt Carasiti (who signed with the NPB Yakult Swallows in November), the Cubs were more than willing to give a player under their control a chance to better himself both professionally and financially, with the (possible) additional perk to the Cubs of a cash release fee payment from the foreign club.
The Cubs have signed RHP Tyler Wilson (ex-BAL) and LHP Kyle Ryan (ex-DET) to 2018 minor league contracts and they have been assigned to AAA Iowa. Both will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training.
Now 28, Wilson spent parts of three seasons (1+064 MLB Service Time - 42 games - 19 GS - 145.1 IP - 8-10 - 5.02 ERA - 1.44 WHIP - .294 OppBA - 39/77 BB/K) at the big league level with the Orioles as a SP/RP "swingman" 2015-17. He was Baltimore's 10th round pick (U. of Virginia) in the 2011 draft (he was a teammate of LAD OF-IF Chris Taylor, SF OF Jarrett Parker, and Cubs minor league INF Stephen Bruno at UVA), and was the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014. Known as a "control artist" throughout his minor league career, Wilson features a 90-92 MPH FB, a SL, and a CH. He was ranked Baltimore's #12 prospect post-2014 and #19 prospect post-2015 by Baseball America.
The 26-year old Ryan spent parts of four different seasons with the Tigers (1+139 MLB Service Time - 86 MLB games total 2014-17, including 56 games with a 4-2 record and a 3.07 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 2016), working mostly as a reliever (and exclusively as a relief pitcher beginning with the 2016 season). He was Detroit's 12th round pick out of Auburndale HS - Auburndale, FL in the 2010 draft (receiving a $100K bonus to dissuade him from attending the U. of South Florida). Ryan pitched for the Gold Medal winning Team USA 18U squad in the Pan American Games in Venezuela in 2009, where he was a teammate of future major leaguers Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Robbie Ray, Jameson Taillon, and Kevin Gausman. He credits one-time Tiger teammate (and current Cubs LHRP) Justin Wilson with helping him make the conversion to full-time reliever. Ryan features an 89-91 MPH FB that he can cut or sink and a CH.
Just like Anthony Bass (see 12/19 UPDATE below), Tyler Wilson is out of minor league options if he were to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2018. However, Kyle Ryan has one minor league option available if he is added to the 40, so it would be a bit easier to move Ryan back & forth between Des Moines and Chicago (if it were to become necessary) than would be the case with Bass and T. Wilson. Also, since T. Wilson and Ryan (and Bass, too) have been outrighted to the minors previously in their careers, they can elect free-agency if added to the 40 and then subsequently sent outright to the minors.
The Cubs have signed RHP Anthony Bass to a 2018 minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa. He will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training.
The 30-year old Bass has accrued 3+159 MLB Service Time over the course of six separate seasons and a combined 131 games and 284 IP with SD (2011-13), HOU (2014), and TEX (2015 and 2017). He also spent one season in Japan with the 2016 NPB Pacific League champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, where he was a teammate of RHP-DH Shohei Ohtani.
Bass was a 5th round pick by the San Diego Padres out of Wayne State U. in 2008, and he has worked as a SP/RP "swing-man" both in the minors and in MLB. He made his MLB debut with San Diego in June 2011, four days after Anthony Rizzo made his debut with the Padres (that was back when Jed Hoyer was SD GM), and he was traded to the Houston Astros for LHP Patrick Schuster in December 2013. He elected free-agency after being outrighted to the minors by the Astros post-2014, and signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. He returned to MLB with Texas in 2015, and was traded to the Seattle Mariners in a five-player trade (along with OF Leonys Martin) in November 2015. (Bass was subsequently released by the Mariners so that he could sign with Nippon Ham). He re-signed with the Rangers (minor league contract) last February after returning from Japan, and was called up to MLB (briefly) in April-May. He elected free-agency after being sent outright to the minors in September (an Article XX-D player, Bass deferred his right to elect free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season).
If Bass is added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at some point in 2018, sending him back & forth between Des Moines and Chicago could be a problem because he is out of minor league options - AND - he can elect free-agency if he is outrighted to the minors. However, Bass did not elect to be a free-agent after being outrighted to the minors by Texas during the 2017 MLB regular season, so sending him outright to the minors after adding him to the MLB 40-man roster in 2018 might not be that much of a problem (presuming he isn't claimed off waivers).
12/20 ORIGINAL POST:
The Cubs have signed catcher Taylor Davis to a 2018 minor league contract. He will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training.
Davis was signed as a Non-Drafted Free-Agent (NDFA) out of Morehead State by the Cubs in 2011. He is a bat-first C-1B-3B, and hit a combined 284/350/416 over 461 minor league games 2011-17.
Davis was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA after the World Series if he hadn't been added to the MLB 40-man roster, so after seven seasons in the Cubs minor league system he was called up to Chicago on September 5th and hit .231 in limited action (eight MLB games).
His most notable achievment was an RBI double in the top of the 11th inning on September 28th, a hit that proved to be the game winning safety in a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis that officially eliminated the Redbirds from N. L. Wild Card contention, probably one of the most-satisfying meaningless (at least for the Cubs) wins in Cub history. (That was the game in which rookie right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng hurled three innings of shutout ball in relief and Leonys Martin made a game-saving leaping catch over the top of the CF fence for the final out).
Davis was not tendered a major league contract by the Cubs on December 1st, thus becoming an unrestricted free-agent. But by non-tendering him on 12/1 and then re-signing him two weeks later the Cubs were able to both remove Davis from the MLB 40-man roster without exposing him to waivers - AND - sign him to a 2018 minor league contract without exposing him to possible selection in last week's Rule 5 Draft.
While Davis will likely start the 2018 season at AAA Iowa, he could see Wrigley Field at some point during the season.
The Cubs have also signed IF-OF Ryan Court to a minor league contract. He spent last season with AAA Pawtucket in the Red Sox organization, playing 1B-2B-3B-SS-LF (mostly SS) for the PawSox. He will compete with Mike Freeman for the "supersub" gig at Iowa in 2018. Like Taylor Davis, Court will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
Arizona Phil 2 hours 18 min ago (view)
It's always interesting to see how many players each MLB club protects on its AAA affiliate's 38-man reserve list on 11/20.
I'm not saying it absolutely and necessarily proves what a club thinks of its own prospects, but there are 38 slots available on a AAA reserve list, and if you leave 15 slots open, I think that does say something, especially when you don't lose anybody in either the MLB Phase or in the AAA Phase. (I'm looking at you, Seattle Mariners!)
Arizona Phil 3 hours 3 min ago (view)
HAGSAG: Instructs starts next month. The pitching lab operates year round, so guys are always coming & going.
Hagsag 5 hours 8 min ago (view)
Phil, when does the Instructional program begin? Are there pitchers in the pitching lab now?
cubbies.4ever 16 hours 11 min ago (view)
Just to continue my conspiracy theory that Theo has a requirement you have TJS to pitch for the Cubs Trevor Megill had it in 2013. The Cubs must have a support group for pitchers who have had TJS.
Arizona Phil 17 hours 47 min ago (view)
After losing two players off the Iowa reserve list in the Major League Phase and selecting four players in the AAA Phase, the Iowa reserve list has one slot open, so now would be an excellent time to try and outright C. D. Pelham to AAA.
Keep in mind that he can't elect free-agency if he's outrighted, and if he is outrighted, he won't be a minor league free-agent until post-2021.
And if he gets claimed off waivers? No big deal.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 9 min ago (view)
LHSP Faustino Carrera and 2B Carlos Sepulveda were among the first players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico in 2014-15. The Cubs ended up signing more than two dozen more Mexican players over the next three years.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 13 min ago (view)
Vimael Machin can play anywhere in the infield & outfield, but he also went through the catcher conversion program at post-2015 Instructs so he can even catch in a pinch, too. He could be a very useful 26th man.
Machin is bi-lingual (he is from Puerto Rico and went to college at Old Dominion), and was projected by the Cubs as a future coach or manager. He's a savvy & astute baseball guy.
Arizona Phil 18 hours 26 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Every year the Cubs convert two or three position players to pitcher (it was Galazin, Hughes, and Zardon in 2019), so it's very possible that Suiter will be given a chance to pitch.
bradsbeard 19 hours 22 min ago (view)
Suiter, who pitched in HS and briefly in college and who doesn't appear to be much of a hitter, seems to me to be a good pitcher conversion candidate.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 4 min ago (view)
BTW, three of the four players selected by the Cubs in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (Stewart, Suiter, and Masters) will be minor league free-agents post-2020, and the fourth one (Vance Vizcaino) is a second-contract player (he was previously released by KC) so he could be a post-2020 minor league free-agent, too (TBD).
Incidentally, David Masters was selected by the Cubs after signing a minor league successor contract with the Nationals.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 11 min ago (view)
So LHSP Brailyn Marquez, INF Christopher Morel, RHSP Cory Abbott, SS Aramis Ademan, RHSP Erich Uelmen, RHSP Keegan Thompson, and LHSP Brendon Little stand-out among the Cubs 2020 first-time Rule 5 Draft eligibles, and RHRP Oscar de la Cruz, LHSP Luis Lugo, and LHRP Jordan Minch are probably the ones to watch among the Cubs post-2020 free-agent eligibles.
Arizona Phil 20 hours 11 min ago (view)
For those of you who like to plan ahead, AS THINGS STAND NOW here is how the Rule 5 Draft and minor league free-agency shape up for the Cubs post-2020:
bradsbeard 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
You say that in jest, but just from the 2016 draft, which did not feature a first or second round pick, the Cubs drafted 4 players who were added to 40 man rosters this winter (Hatch, Miller, Rucker, Short) with Mekkes, Giambrone, and several others being potential mid-season additions.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
So I guess he's the first guy since Rondon we've taken in rule 5 with a shot at making the roster. That's kinda cool
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
"Megill is a guy we tried to trade for, actually, prior to the Rule 5." - hoyer
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
That's a bummer. He does what few on the big league club do: put the bat on the ball.
Also hate to lose Rucker. He's a perfect type to be on AAA shuttle and cheap middle relief at minimum.