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.
Even if the Cubs exercise the six 2020 club options (Barnette, Brach, Graveman, Morrow, Quintana, and Rizzo) and the two players with potential post-2019 player opt-outs (Heyward and Darvish) don't choose to leave, the Cubs will still have $53M+ coming off the books after this season (Cedeno, Cishek, Duensing, Hamels, Kintzler, Strop, and Zobrist are FA post-2019).
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.