Cubs 2018 Rule 5 Draft & Minor League Free-Agent Watch List
As things stand right now...
17 Cubs minor leaguers are eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents (6YFA) at 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day following the final game of the 2018 World Series (Friday 11/2), and 70 Cubs minor leaguers (including seven who were eligible to be minor league free-agents but who signed 2019 minor league successor contracts) are eligible for selection in the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft.
So the Cubs have until five days after the final game of the World Series to either sign a post-2018 Rule 55 minor league free-agent to a 2019 minor league successor contract or add the player to their MLB 40-man roster, otherwise the player will automatically be declared a free-agent.
Then the Cubs must decide by November 20th which 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible players (including any player eligible to be a free-agent who has signed a 2019 minor league successor contract) to add their MLB 40-man roster (to keep the player from being eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft).
The Cubs also must decide by November 20th whether to place a 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor league player who is not added to the MLB 40-man roster on 11/20 on their AAA Iowa reserve list or on the reserve list of an affiliate of a lower classification. At most 38 of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguers can be placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20. However, although the AAA Reserve List limit is 38, probably more like 32 or 33 of the Rule 5 Draft-eligible players will actually be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20, because slots need to be left open for players the Cubs might want to select in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, as well as for free-agents signed to minor league contracts or players outrighted to the minors after 11/20 but prior to the Rule 5 Draft. (Any Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who signs a 2019 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection). Any 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguer who is not placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20 will be eligible for selection in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Here are some of the more-noteworthy Cubs minor leaguers who are either eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2018 or eligible for selection in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft...
GROUP 1 (Eligible to be Minor League FA post-2018):
"ON THE BUBBLE" TO BE ADDED TO 40 IF HE DECLINES MINOR LEAGUE SUCCESSOR CONTRACT:
1. Kyle Ryan, LHP - SWING
WILL LIKELY BE OFFERED MINOR LEAGUE SUCCESSOR CONTRACT:
2. Terrance Gore, OF
3. Jeffrey Baez, OF
4. Alberto Baldonado, LHRP
5. Cory Mazzoni, RHRP
6. Mike Freeman, INF
7. Bijan Rademacher, OF
8. Daury Torrez, RHP - SWING
9. Corey Black, RHRP (February 2017 TJS)
10. Jose Paulino, LHP - SWING
11. Trey Martin, OF
12. Ryan Court, INF
13. Stephen Bruno, INF
14. Wynton Bernard, OF
15. Jose Rosario, RHRP
NOT LIKELY TO BE OFFERED MINOR LEAGUE SUCCESSOR CONTRACT:
16. Chris Coghlan, OF-IF
17. Casey Coleman, RHP - SWING
NOTE: Of the minor league players eligible for free-agency after the World Series, Kyle Ryan is the one most-likely to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster (as happened with RHRP Jose Rosario post-2016 and RHRP Matt Carasiti post-2017)... Jeffrey Baez is not just a potential post-2018 minor league free-agent, he is a legitimate prospect (and if he is not necessarily Top 30 prospects right now, he does have upside with the potential to eventually reach MLB), so the Cubs might want to think twice before letting him just walk away... Same goes for Erick Leal (the Cubs July Minor League Pitcher of the Month) and one-time top Mariners pitchers prospect Danny Hultzen... Getting a player to agree to sign a 2019 minor league successor contract is possible (Daury Torrez, James Puglisse, and Carlos Penalver signed one post-2017), but the player doesn't have to sign it, and even if the player does agree to sign a successor contract, he then becomes Rule 5 Draft eligible and the Cubs could lose the player that way, too, albeit with a $100,000 profit. (RHRP Pedro Araujo was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2017, but he signed a 2018 minor league successor contract with the Cubs in September and was given an opportunity to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, where he caught the eye of the Baltimore Orioles, who then poached him in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft after the Cubs left him unprotected).
GROUP 2 (Eligible for selection in 2018 Rule 5 Draft)
"ON THE BUBBLE" TO BE ADDED TO THE 40 BY 11/20:
1. Justin Steele, LHSP (pitching in AFL)
2. Trevor Clifton, RHSP
3. P. J. Higgins, C-INF (playing in AFL)
4. Jason Vosler, 3B-1B
5. Jhonny Pereda, C (playing in AFL)
6. Erick Leal, RHSP (pitching in AFL)
LONG-SHOT TO BE ADDED TO THE 40 BY 11/20:
7. Ian Rice, C-1B
8. Erling Moreno, RHSP
9. Manuel Rondon, LHP - SWING (pitching in AFL)
UNLIKELY TO BE ADDED TO 40 BUT COULD RECEIVE RULE 5 DRAFT CONSIDERATION:
10. Charcer Burks, OF
11. Jacob Hannemann, OF
12. Chesny Young, IF-OF
13. Craig Brooks, RHRP
14. Brad Markey, RHP - SWING
15. Zach Hedges, RHP - SWING
NOTE: If it's like 2017, the Cubs will add maybe three of these players to their MLB 40-man roster on 11/20, but it's also possible that two, one, or even NONE of these players will be added to the 40 post-2018. The bottom line is, this group is VERY fluid, very much subject to change. All it would take to go to the top of the list would be for one of the pitchers or position players to have a "break out" and/or an All-Star level AFL performance (like David Bote did in 2017). But none of the players listed as "on the bubble to be added to the 40 on 11/20" are "locks" or even "virtual locks" to get added to the 40 post-2018.
1B Efren Navarro, C Chris Gimenez, RHRP Anthony Bass, RHRP Justin Hancock, C-1B Taylor Davis, OF Terrance Gore, LHP Jaime Garcia, RHRP Allen Webster, and INF Mike Freeman (all eligible to be minor league free-agents post-2018) were added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the course of the 2018 season, although Navarro, Gimenez, and Bass were subsequently outrighted back to AAA (and then Navarro was eventually released so that he could sign with an NPB club, Gimenez was traded to the Minnesota Twins, and Bass elected to be a free-agent after the conclusion of the MLB regular season). Fact is, it is not unusual for veteran players who are added to the MLB 40-man roster during the course of the season to be removed from the 40 when they are no longer of use to the club. For example, C-1B Taylor Davis, INF Mike Freeman, RHP Seth Frankoff, and LHRP Zac Rosscup (all four eligible to be Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2017) were added to the 40 during the course of the 2017 season, although none of the four were retained for 2018 (Rosscup was traded to the Colorado Rockies in June 2017, Frankoff was claimed off waivers by the Seatle Mariners in September 2017, Freeman was sent outright to AAA Iowa in November 2017, and T. Davis was non-tendered on 12/1, although both Freeman and T. Davis eventually agreed to sign 2019 minor league contracts with the Cubs that included an NRI to Spring Training).
Besides adding players who are eligible to be minor league free-agents to the 40 during the MLB regular season, a player eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league free-agent (second-contract or 6YFA) is sometimes added to the club's MLB 40-man roster post-World Series just to keep the player from becoming a minor league free-agent, especially if the player declines to sign a minor league successor contract. That's what happened last year, when the Cubs added RHRP Matt Carasiti (eligible to be a Rule 55 second-contract minor league FA post-2017) to the 40 after the 2017 World Series to keep him from walking away as a free-agent, although he was released about a month later so that he could pursue an opportunity to pitch for the NPB Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan. (The Cubs received a substantial cash payment from the Swallows as the release fee).
But even if the player does agree to sign a successor contract, the club might choose to add the player to the MLB 40-man roster because the club doesn't want to risk losing the player in the Rule 5 Draft. In fact this happened in 2016, when LHRP Jack Leathersich (who was eligible to be a Rule 55 second-contract minor league FA post-2016) signed a 2017 minor league successor contract prior to the conclusion of the World Series, only to be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster on 11/18 so that he would not be eligible for selection in the December 2016 Rule 5 Draft.
The bottom line is, if a player eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (either 6YFA or second-contract FA) is not added to an MLB 40-man roster or does not sign a minor league successor contract by 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series, the player will be automatically declared a free-agent and the player's former club receives no compensation if the player signs elsewhere. So minor leaguers like Jeffrey Baez and Erick Leal (as well as the other players eligible to be a minor league FA post-2018) have leverage other Cubs minor leaguers do not have.
As far as players eligible for selection in the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft are concerned, the Cubs have added only one player (RHRP James Norwood) to the 40 during the course of the 2018 MLB regular season who would have been eligible for selection. By comparison, during the course of the 2017 MLB regular season the Cubs added four players to the 40 (RHP Dylan Floro, RHRP Dillon Maples, RHSP Jen-Ho Tseng, and OF Mark Zagunis) who would have been eligible for selection in the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft, although Floro was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers. NOTE: IF-OF Ian Happ was also added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the 2017 season, but he would not have been eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft until post-2018.
The Cubs then added three more post-2017 Rule 5 Draft-eligibles (RHSP Adbert Alzolay, INF David Bote, and RHSP Oscar de la Cruz) to the 40 on 11/20 of last year, Bote after hitting a robust 333/395/536 for the Mesa Solar Sox in the post-season Arizona Fall League. It's not unusual for the Cubs to assign a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to the Arizona Fall League, as the AFL is often used as a "proving ground" for pitchers and position-players who are under consideration for promotion to an MLB 40-man roster. (Players who are eligible to be minor league free-agents after the World Series cannot be assigned to the AFL unless the player has either been added to an MLB 40-man roster or has agreed to a minor league successor contract).
RULE 5 DRAFT
The MLB Rule 5 Draft is held on the 2nd Thursday in December and is presently the last order of business at the MLB WINTER MEETINGS. It is a mechanism that allows MLB clubs to select (draft) players off minor league reserve lists.
There is a "Major League Phase" where an MLB club can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs (any minor league classification) for $100,000 ("Major League Phase" Rule 5 Draft price increased from $50,000 to $100,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft), and a "AAA Phase" where a club's AAA minor league affiliate can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a lower classification (below AAA) for $24,000 (Rule 5 "AAA Phase" draft price increased from $12,000 to $24,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft).
NOTE: Effective December 2016, the "AA Phase" (where a club's AA minor league affiliate could select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a classification below AA for $4,000) has been eliminated.
There is no limit on the number of rounds in each phase (there could be one, there could be three, there could be five or more). As long as at least one club is still selecting players, the phase will continue, but as soon as all 30 teams have a full reserve list (so that clubs can no longer make selections) or have passed, the phase is over.
There is no limit on the number of Rule 5 Draft-eligible players any one organization can lose in a Rule 5 Draft.
RULE 5 DRAFT ELIGIBILITY
1. A minor league player who was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract is eligible for selection starting with the 5th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season, and a minor league player who was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract becomes eligible for selection starting with the 4th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season.
2. If a player signs his first contract after the conclusion of the season of the MLB or minor league club to which he is first assigned (even if he signs prior to the Rule 5 Draft), the next season is considered to be the player's "first qualified season" for Rule 5 eligibility purposes. (Depending on the minor league, the conclusion of a minor league club's season could be as early as the first week of August, or as late as the second week of September).
3. A player eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent who signs a minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent and a free-agent with prior MLB and/or minor league service who signs a minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection if the player was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 5th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract, or the player was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 4th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract.
4. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has either been released or had his contract voided and then re-signs with the same MLB organization within one year is eligible for selection.
5. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career is eligible for selection.
6. A player on the Voluntary Retired List, Disqualified List, or Ineligible List is not eligible for selection.
7. An MLB club can designate any player on a minor league reserve list "eligible for selection" in the Rule 5 Draft even if the player would not normally be eligible, but once a player is designated "eligible for selection," he remains eligible for selection in all subsequent Rule 5 drafts. NOTE: A club might do this if the club is planning to release the player during the off-season.
8. A minor league player-manager who would be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft if he was only a player can be selected, but if he is selected, the player-manager can reject the selection and retire. He has 30 days to decide. If he rejects the selection and opts to retire as a player, the player-manager is ineligible to be reinstated as a player for a minimum of one year.
Rule 5 Draft-eligible players most-likely to be on AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20 are in bold/italics/underlined (if player not added to MLB 40-man roster by 11/20)
CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE FOR SELECTION IN 2018 RULE 5 DRAFT (last updated 11-2-2018):
Anderson Acevedo, RHP (Second-Contract Player signed for 2019)
Tyler Alamo, C-1B
Gioskar Amaya, INF (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Luis Aquino, RHP (Second-Contract Player signed for 2019)
Luis Ayala, OF
Yasiel Balaguert, 1B-OF (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Casey Bloomquist, RHP
Andres Bonalde, LHP
Craig Brooks, RHP
James Buckelew, LHP (Second-Contract Player signed for 2019)
Charcer Burks, OF
Roberto Caro, OF (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Eric Castillo, C (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Trevor Clifton, RHP
Alfredo Colorado, RHP
Yan de la Cruz, RHP (Second-Contract Player signed for 2019)
Enrique de los Rios, RHP
Scott Effross, RHP
Wander Feliz, RHP
Riger Fernandez, LHP
Emilio Ferrebus, RHP
Wladimir Galindo, INF
Hector Alonso Garcia, RHP
Robel Garcia, INF (Second-Contract Player free-agent signed for 2019)
David Garner, RHP (on AAA Iowa RESTRICTED LIST)
Dalton Geekie, RHP (Second-Contract Player signed for 2019)
Yapson Gomez, LHP
Eric Gonzalez, C
Jose Alejandro Gonzalez, RHP (ex-OF)
Jacob Hannemann, OF (Article XX-D player)
Zach Hedges, RHP
P. J. Higgins, C
Jesse Hodges, INF
Danny Hultzen, LHP (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Ryan Kellogg, LHP
Ryan Lawlor, LHP (Second-Contract player signed for 2019)
Erick Leal, RHP (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Vimael Machin, INF
Brad Markey, RHP
Junior Marte, RHP
Marcus Mastrobuoni, C
Ivan Medina, RHP
M. T. Minacci, RHP
Jordan Minch, LHP
Kevonte Mitchell, OF
Erling Moreno, RHP
Preston Morrison, RHP
Rafael Narea, INF
Richard Nunez, C
Pablo Ochoa, LHP
Eugenio Palma, LHP
Tyler Payne, C
Henrry Pedra, INF
Yeiler Peguero, INF
Jhonny Pereda, C
Chris Pieters, OF-1B (signed 2019 minor league successor contract)
Eury Ramos, RHP
Will Remillard, C
Ruben Reyes, LHP (ex-OF)
Ian Rice, C
Andry Rondon, RHP
Manuel Rondon, LHP
Justin Steele, LHP
Jake Stinnett, RHP
Franklin Tineo, INF
Sucre Valdez, RHP
Jason Vosler, INF
Ryan Williams, RHP
Chesny Young, INF
Rob Zastryzny, LHP (Article XX-D player)
NOTE: RHP Aneuris Rosario was eligible for selection in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft before being placed on the Disqualified List on 4/24, and as long as he remains on the Disqualified List he will not be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
Additionally, any player eligible to be an MLB Article XIX-A minor league free-agent, an MLB Article XX-D minor league free-agent, or an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent post-2018 who signs a 2019 minor league contract or a 2019 minor league successor contract prior to the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection in the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft if the player was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 5th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season, and a minor league player who was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract becomes eligible for selection starting with the 4th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season.
MLB RULE 55 FREE-AGENT POST-2018
SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS:
Jeffrey Baez, OF
Alberto Baldonado, LHP
Wynton Bernard, OF (Article XX-D player)
Corey Black, RHP
Stephen Bruno, INF
Chris Coghlan, OF-INF (Article XIX-A player)
Casey Coleman, RHP (Article XX-D player)
Ryan Court, INF
Mike Freeman, INF (Article XX-D player)
Terrance Gore, OF (Article XX-D player)
Trey Martin, OF
Cory Mazzoni, RHP (Article XX-D player)
Jose Paulino, LHP
Bijan Rademacher, OF
Jose Rosario, RHP
Kyle Ryan, LHP (Article XX-D player)
Daury Torrez, RHP
SECOND CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT:
RULE 5 DRAFT RESTRICTIONS:
1. A minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), traded to another organization, or transferred from one minor league reserve list to another within the same organization, starting with the filing of MLB & minor league reserve lists on November 20th (or November 19th if November 20th falls on a Saturday or November 18th if November 20th falls on a Sunday) up through the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.
2. A Rule 5 Draft-eligible player cannot be sent outright to the minors beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on the third day prior to the Rule 5 Draft through the conclusion of the draft.
3. A club must have as many slots open on its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players it selects in the Major League Phase, and an MLB club's AAA affiliate must have as many slots open on its reserve list prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players the affiliate selects in the AAA Phase.
4. A club can select a player off the reserve list of one of its own minor league affiliates, but if the player is selected in the Major League Phase, the club is bound by the same Rule 5 roster restrictions as if it had selected the player off the reserve list of another club's minor league affiliate. NOTE: This actually happened at least once a number of years ago, after a club inadvertently left one of its top prospects off its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) when it was submitted to the MLB Commissioner on November 20th.
5. A player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "covered up" from selection, either by agreement between two clubs or by effect (such as by concocting a phony injury and placing the player on the disabled list in an attempt to decrease a player's value when the player is not really injured). Also, a player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "hidden" on a disabled list to help the drafting club fulfill Rule 5 roster obligations (such as by leaving the player on the DL after he is healthy enough to play). If the MLB Commissioner believes a club "covered up" a player to avoid losing the player in the Rule Draft or "hid" a selected player on a Disabled List, the offending club or clubs are subject to a penalty (TBD by the MLB Commissioner).
And yet, no credit given to Tom Ricketts placing the interests of fans (or his $1B baseball operation) ahead of politics, by hiring a progressive like Theo in the first place...
I think the best response is to cast aside a lifetime of diehard fandom (no doubt cultivated during the highly profitable Wrigley regime - unless you’re a Zell guy), and stop buying their xenophobic $20 Javy Baez t-shirts.
Tom is a Ted Cruz look alike.
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on why the Cubs didn't spend more money this offseason on the free-agent market: "Pretty easy. We don’t have any more.''
that said, it's a strong team...can't complain too much, though they're playing very loose and fast with the patchwork pen "fixes."
let's hope it goes better than the 5th or 6th time someone has "fixed" jason heyward's swing.
Interesting, this appears to the year of mechanical fixes in the staff, Quintana's toe point and new confidence in his changeup, Hamel's fixes, Chatwood's double pump, wondering if other fixes are in store from the new pitching regime.
That I am sure is an under statement.
I've never really thought about Theo's politics. But I assume it's not the politics of Joe Ricketts.
I only spend baseball money on MLB.tv and tickets when the Cubs come to town (away games). So, like you, there's very little way for me to cut back on spending without just changing team loyalty. I'm still irked.
Baseball is such a silly thing to care about, though. And they keep presenting ethical roadblocks to that whimsy.
m.moosetacos returns to the brewers for 1/10m
I saw in Bleacher Report that Miguel Amaya is in camp. Picture of him with the Red Baron.
Charlie, Crunch; yep...gotta wonder how much Theo chafes working for these folks...
"Montgomery has been limited to long toss early in camp due to shoulder stiffness. Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said the southpaw could resume throwing bullpens in two or three days."
also, j.tazawa isn't expected until monday because of visa issues...
add the leaked joe ricketts racist-and-xenophobic-beyond-all-hell emails to the mix and you got a hell of an off-season. it's bigger news than the 100 nickle and dime contracts they added, anyway.
many (most) people will overlook this, but a chunk of the ricketts family not only talks the talk of their socially immoral beliefs (imo), they put money and labor behind pushing it...and it didn't just start this offseason.
With Russell's press conference and the Cubs deal with Sinclair both coming near the end of a very slow offseason, I'm having a very hard time getting excited for spring training. Curious what other's think about these issues going forward? I really would like none of my money going to Sinclari. Russell's continued non-admission of specific acts is par for the course but still undercuts his statements about being accountable. Do you all find this issues obstacles to enjoying baseball, too?
Brailyn Marquez and Yovanny Cruz were the two best Cubs pitching prospects at Extended Spring Training last year. Cruz throws a mid-90's two-seamer and a hard-slider and probably projects as a reliever at the higher levels, unless he can find a reliable off-speed pitch.
erich081: Dakota Mekkes is in a similar position as James Norwood this time last year, meaning he is Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season so adding him to the 40 could happen at any time, especially if the Cubs need a bullpen arm and Mekkes is pitching well at AAA Iowa.