Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle Not Always a Smooth Ride
Although it is not yet official, the Cubs have reportedly signed veteran RHRP Junichi Tazawa to a minor league contract. Because he was a post-2018 Article XX-B MLB free-agent, the 32-year old Tazawa will get a $100,000 retention bonus if he is not released at least five days prior to 2019 MLB Opening Day and added to an MLB 40-man roster by Opening Day, and he gets an automatic opt-out if he is not added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by June 1st. And because he has Article XIX-A rights, if he were to be added to the MLB 25-man roster (and MLB 40-man roster) at some point in 2019, the Cubs would not be able to send him back to the minors without his pemission even if Outright Assignment Waivers are secured. (If he does not give his permission and the Cubs want to remove him from the 25-man roster, they could only release him or trade him, and if he is released, the Cubs would be on the hook for 100% of his salary as termination pay).
In addition to signing Tazawa, the Cubs have also reportedly signed veteran RHRP George Kontos to a minor league contract (also not yet official). Because he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time, Kontos (like Tazawa) has Article XIX-A rights and thus cannot be sent to the minors without his permission. (FWIW, both Tazawa and Kontos are out of minor league options, but even if they did have options available they could not be optioned to the minors without their permission). So if Kontos is added to the Cubs MLB 25-man Active List roster at some point in 2019 and then the Cubs subsequently decide they are not able to keep him on the 25, they would not be able to outright him back to the minors without his permission. And if he does not give his permission, the Cubs could only trade him or release him, and if he were to be added to the 25-man roster (and 40-man roster) and then is is subsequently released, the Cubs would be on the hook for 100% of his remaining salary as termination pay.
So players who have accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time (like Tazawa and Kontos) have Article XIX-A rights that make it a bit complicated to remove them from the 25-man roster (and 40-man roster) once the player is added. Assuming a player will cheerfully ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" is a lot to expect of an Article XIX-A player, in that the player cannot be sent to the minors (by Optional or Outright Assignment) without his permission, and he gets 100% of his salary as termination pay if he is released.
And further, a player who has accrued at least six years of MLB Service Time and who signs a minor league contract after being declared an Article XX-B free-agent (like Tazawa) gets even more perks ($100K retention bonus if not released at least five days prior to MLB Opening Day and added to the MLB 40-man roster by Opening Day, and an automatic 6/1 opt-out if not added to the MLB 40-man roster by June 1st) that make retaining the player even beyond the conclusion of Spring Training somewhat problematic.
A player who has not yet accrued five years of MLB Service Time but who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time (or who qualifies as a "Super Two" player for salary arbitration) and/or who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career has Article XX-D rights, which are different than Article XIX-A rights. Unlike a player with Article XIX-A rights, a player with Article XX-D rights does - NOT - have to give his permission before he can be sent to the minors, but he does have the right to elect free-agency immediately (or defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season for players who did not qualify as an Article XX-D player only by virtue of being a "Super Two" player) if he is sent outright to the minors (but if he is outrighted to the minors and elects free-agency immediately he forfeits the balance of his salary, and if he is sent outright to the minors and defers free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season but then is added back to an MLB 40-man roster prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season, he cannot file for free-agency under Article XX-D).
While Tazawa is the only free-agent with Article XX-B rights who was signed by the Cubs to a 2019 minor league contract and Tazawa and Kontos are the only two free-agents signed by the Cubs to 2019 minor league contracts who have Article XIX-A status, the Cubs have signed eight free-agents with Article XX-D status to 2019 minor league contracts, including C Francisco Arcia, INF Cristhian Adames, OF-1B Jim Adduci, RHSP Christian Bergman, INF Phillip Evans, RHRP Carlos Ramirez, RHRP Rob Scahill, and LHRP Mike Zagurski. Besides having the right to elect free-agency if outrighted, Adames, Bergman, Scahill, and Zagurski are also out of minor league options, so it will be even more-complicated to remove those four from the 25-man roster (and place them on the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle") if one or more of them are called-up at some point in 2019. (While Arcia, Adduci, Evans, and Ramirez have Article XX-D status so that they would have the right to elect free-agency if outrighted off the 40, each of them do have at least one minor league option left, so they can be optioned to the minors if the Cubs want to add one of them to the 25 only temporarily without the risk of having the player claimed off Outright Assignment Waivers or having the player elect free-agency if outrighted, or in the case of Tazawa and Kontos, putting the Cubs in the position of having to release the player just to get him off the 25-man roster).
They weren't signed as free-agents, but Cubs minor leaguers OF Wynton Bernard, OF Johnny Field, OF Jacob Hannemann, LHRP Jerry Vasto, and LHRP Rob Zastryzny have Article XX-D rights (all five have been outrighted to the minors previously in their careers), so if added to the 40 at some point in 2019 they could get claimed off waivers or could elect free-agency if outrighted back to minors (all five do have at least one minor league option available, however), and while they do not have Article XX-D status and thus cannot elect free-agency if outrighted, both RHRP Allen Webster and LHRP Danny Hultzen are out of minor league options and thus (unlike Arcia, Adduci, Bernard, Evans, Field, Hannemann, Ramirez, Vasto, and Zastryzny) could not be optioned back to the minors should either of them be added to the 40 at some point in 2019.
Bottom line is, it's not always easy and smooth to add a minor league player to the 25-man roster (and 40-man roster), especially if it's expected to be just a temporary move. The "Chicago- Des Moines Shuttle" is really designed for players who can be recalled from AAA and then optioned back without hassle, and so for Tazawa and Kontos (in particular), it would probably be just a one-way trip if one or both were to get called-up to Chicago in 2019.
jdrnym 2 hours 54 min ago (view)
All makes sense, but I think there is one important point of clarification in there -- are you using "practice squad" and "Club Player Pool" interchangeably? If so, I understood the first sentence of your third-to-last paragraph above to mean that Mills/Sadler/Underwood could be outrighted and still be in the Pool, therefore retaining their eligibility to re-selected to the major league active roster later in the season.
Arizona Phil 5 hours 20 min ago (view)
jdrnym: Zack Short is still on Optional Assignment to the minors (as are Alzolay, M. Amaya, R. Garcia, Maples, T. Miller, Norwood, Rea, M. Rodriguez, and Steele), but he can be recalled at any time without restriction (no "ten-day rule") because he was optioned to the minors prior to the transaction freeze in March.
crunch 9 hours 42 min ago (view)
the toles update is worse than his troubled past. toles has been diagnosed bipolar + schizophrenia and has been in/out of institutions over the past couple years. he can't seem to stick to any program long enough to get good treatment.
hope he turns whatever corner he needs to in order to get enough treatment to decide what kind of future he'd like to have.
Dolorous Jon Lester 12 hours 33 min ago (view)
Those two are definitely on more precarious ground once the roster is trimmed to 26, I would say.
jdrnym 12 hours 35 min ago (view)
Right, just went through the roster quick. Underwood, Sadler, same deal.
Dolorous Jon Lester 14 hours 52 min ago (view)
Can't answer the Short thing. But I'd agree with your assessment of Mills if he weren't basically a lock to make the roster.
jdrnym 14 hours 59 min ago (view)
Is Zack Short's official designation still "on optional assignment" even though he's not on the Pool? If so, he can't just be recalled even though he's on the 40-man roster, right?
And someone like Alec Mills who's on the Pool and out of options... he's virtually locked onto the active roster because he can't get taken off (via an outright) and remain eligible to be re-added. Seems like the kind of player you'd prefer to leave off the initial Pool.
crunch 15 hours 23 min ago (view)
though he went to the hospital for treatment he was never admitted, so he's yet another person who got dragged hard by Covid, but who's case isn't showing up in the hospital admission, ICU bed, or death numbers most of us are looking at.
there's a whole slew of people who have had to shut down their lives for 2-4-6-etc weeks to get over this that are falling outside of the numbers we're tracking most closely.
Cubster 15 hours 53 min ago (view)
"In yet another reminder of how insidious this particular disease can be, Hottovy says he had acted quite cautiously in public before coming down with it. Fortunately, he was able to self-isolate and avoid transmitting it to his family."
crunch 17 hours 4 min ago (view)
it'll be interesting to see how things go down when people have to start playing games in AZ. they're damn close to being "early NYC level" screwed with a lack of planning and action.
with the early plan of playing games in AZ/FL, they could have been huge economic winners with 15+ teams playing all their games in AZ (and spring training 2.0). now it's looking like some teams may not even want to fly into AZ for a few dozen "away" games.
crunch 17 hours 19 min ago (view)
cubs pitching coach tommy hottovy was diagnosed with covid-19 earlier this spring, but he is currently assumed fully recovered.
he had a 100+ degree temperature for 6 days, lost 18 pounds, and it took 30 days for him to test negative.
he's 38 years old, btw.
Hagsag 1 day 18 min ago (view)
crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)
at least the cubs got elston back for pretty much nothing. also, ha.
Rob Richardson 1 day 21 hours ago (view)
How many coachs, managers, and other "tier 1" individuals around the league are in higher risk groups?
Rob Richardson 1 day 22 hours ago (view)
Well said Crunch.