Cubs 2019 Rule 5 Draft & Minor League Free-Agent Watch-List

UPDATED 7-18-2019

As things stand right now...


66 Cubs minor leaguers are eligible for selection in the December 2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft, and 33 Cubs minor leaguers (20 6YFA and 13 second-contract players) are eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents at 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day following the final game of the 2019 World Series. In addition, one player is eligible to be an Article XIX-A minor league free-agent and one player is eligible to be an Article XX-D minor league free-agent (both had the right to elect free-agency after being outrighted, but elected to defer the choice until after the conclusion of the 2019 MLB regular season).   

So the Cubs have until the end of the 2019 MLB regular season to either sign their one Article XIX-A minor league free-agent and one Article XX-D minor league free-agent to a 2020 minor league successor contract or add the player back to their MLB 40-man roster, otherwise the player can file for free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season extending up through October 15th. 
NOTE: If an Article XIX-A or Article XX-D minor league player does not file for free-agency during the window that immediately follows the conclusion of the MLB regular season, the player will automatically become eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 free-agent after the World Series. 

The Cubs then have until five days after the final game of the 2019 World Series to either sign a post-2019 MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (including any Article XIX-A or Article XX-D player who did not file for free-agency by October 15th) to a 2020 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 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible players (including any player eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2019 who has signed a 2020 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 2019 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 2019 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 35 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 2020 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection). Any 2019 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-2019 or eligible for selection in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft (full lists further down the post)... 

LAST UPDATED 7-18-2019

GROUP 1 (Eligible to be Minor League FA post-2019 - potentially useful MLB depth at AAA/AA)
1. Colin Rea, RHSP (at AAA) - 2+140 MLB ST - has two minor league options left if added to the 40
2. Danny Hultzen, LHRP (at AAA) - 0+000 MLB-ST - has Article XX-D rights & no minor league options left if added to the 40
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3. Tim Collins, LHRP (at AAA) - 6+018 MLB-ST - is Article XIX-A player (was outrighted to the minors and deferred free-agency until post-2019 MLB regular season) / has Article XIX-A rights & two minor league options left if added back to the 40
4. Dixon Machado, INF (at AAA) - 2+005 MLB-ST - has Article XX-D rights & no minor league options left if added to the 40
5. Phillip Evans, INF (at AAA) - 0+110 MLB ST - has Article XX-D rights & two minor league options left if added to the 40
6. Jim Adduci, 1B-OF (at AAA) - 2+040 MLB-ST - is Article XX-D player (was outrighted to the minors and deferred free-agency until post-2019 MLB regular season) / has Article XX-D rights & one minor league option left if added back to the 40
7. Johnny Field, OF (at AAA) - 0+132 MLB-ST - has Article XX-D rights & two minor league options left if added to the 40 
8. Roberto Caro, OF (at AA) - has never been on an MLB 40-man roster
NOTE-1: Article XIX-A means player can't be optioned or sent outright to minors without his consent if added to MLB 40-man roster
NOTE-2: Article XX-D means player can elect free-agency if sent outright to minors after being added to 40
COMMENT: The pitchers and position-players on this list are not really considered to be "prospects" and so if the player does get added to the MLB 40-man roster in 2019 it would be much more likely to happen as an injury replacement during the regular season or as a September roster depth call-up than post-World Series, and if added to the 40 during the season, the player is likely to be dropped from the 40 post-WS (outrighted or non-tendered), with the possible exception of Rea and Hultzen, who probably have a 50/50 chance to be retained on the MLB 40-man roster post-2019 and into 2020 Spring Training if added to the 40.

GROUP 2 (Legit prospects eligible to be MLB Rule 55 Minor League FA post-2019)
1. Jhonny Pereda, C (at AA - Rule 55 6YFA - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 after World Series)
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2. Trevor Clifton, RHP - SWING (at AAA - Rule 55 6YFA - 25/75 chance to be added to 40 after World Series)  
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3. Luis Lugo, LHP - SWING (at AA - Rule 55 6YFA - long-shot to be added to 40 after World Series)
4. Ryan Lawlor, LHRP (at Hi-A - Rule 55 second-contract player - long-shot to be added to 40 after World Series - see NOTE-1 below)  
5. Erick Leal, RHP - SWING (at AA - Rule 55 6YFA - long-shot to be added to 40 after World Series)
NOTE-1: With mutual consent (player & club), a Rule 55 second-contract minor league player who has accrued fewer than seven minor league seasons can be signed to a multi-year minor league contract with club control extending up through the player's seventh minor league season, so it is possible that Ryan Lawlor is signed beyond the 2019 season (TBD).   
COMMENT: Even though they are nearing minor league free-agency, the players on this list (especially Pereda and Clifton) are still considered to be MLB "prospects" and so even if the player is not added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the MLB regular season, they would be "on the bubble" to be added to the 40 post-World Series to keep them from walking away as a minor league free-agent. (Any of the players listed above not added to the 40 will almost certainly be offered a 2020 minor league successor contract, but if offered one, the player does not have to sign it). 

GROUP 3 (Eligible for selection in 2019 Rule 5 Draft - likely on AAA Reserve List if not added to MLB 40-man roster)
LEGIT PROSPECT (AT VARIOUS LEVELS)
1. Miguel Amaya, C (at Hi-A - virtual lock to be added to 40 on 11/20)
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2. P. J. Higgins, C-INF (at AAA - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season) 
3. Zack Short, SS (at AAA  - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season) 
4. Tyson Miller, RHSP (at AAA - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)
5. Dakota Mekkes, RHRP (at AAA - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)  
6. Trent Giambrone, INF (at AAA - 50/50 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)
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7. Matt Swarmer, RHSP (at AAA - 25/75 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20)
8. Javier Assad, RHSP (at Hi-A - 25/75 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20) 
9. Tom Hatch, RHSP (at AA - 25/75 chance to be added to 40 on 11/20)
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10. Jose Albertos, RHP - SWING (at Lo-A - long-shot to be added to the 40 on 11/20)
11. Donnie Dewees, OF (at AAA - long-shot to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)
12. Wyatt Short, LHRP (at AA - long-shot to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)
13. Craig Brooks, RHRP (at AAA - long-shot to be added to 40 on 11/20 if not added during season)
14. Michael Rucker, RHP - SWING (at AA - long shot to be added to 40 on 11/20)
15. Vimael Machin, INF (at AA - long-shot to be added to 40 on 11/20)
16. Zach Davis, OF (at AA - long-shot to be called-up in September as "5th OF / PR")
SECOND-TIER PROSPECT - at AA or AAA
17. Duncan Robinson, RHSP (at AAA/60-day IL)
18. Bailey Clark, RHRP (at AA) 
19. Conor Lillis-White, LHRP (at AA/60-day IL) 
20. Zach Hedges, RHP - SWING (at AA/60-day IL) 
21. Jordan Minch, LHRP (at AA) 
22. Tommy Nance, RHRP (at AA)
23. Jake Stinnett, RHRP (at AA) 
24. Eddy Julio Martinez, OF (at AA) 
25. Connor Myers, OF (at AA) 
26. Ian Rice, C-1B (at AA) 
SECOND-TIER PROSPECT - at SINGLE-A
27. Erling Moreno, RHP - SWING (at Hi-A)
28. Delvin Zinn, INF (at Hi-A)
29. Bryan Hudson, LHSP (at Hi-A/60-day IL) 
30. Faustino Carrera, LHSP (at Lo-A) 
31. Alexander Vargas, RHP - SWING (at Hi-A) 
32. Chad Hockin, RHRP (at Hi-A) 
33. Jesus Camargo, RHRP (at Hi-A)  
34. Tyler Payne, C (at Hi-A) 
35. Eury Ramos, RHSP (at Lo-A) 
36. Rafelin Lorenzo, C (at Lo-A)
37. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B (at Hi-A) 
38. Fidel Mejia, INF (at Lo-A)   

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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, 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, Bass, Gore, and Freeman 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, Bass elected to be a free-agent after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, and Gore and Freeman were declared minor league free-agents on the 5th day after the last game of the World Series, Garcia was declared an MLB Article XX-B FA on the day after the last game of the World Series, and Hancock and Webster were non-tendered on 11/30). Only Taylor Davis was tendered a 2019 contract on 11/30 and remained on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster going into 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 in 2018, 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 a minor leaguer who is eligible to be a free-agent signs 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 Danny Hultzen, Robel Garcia, Trevor Clifton, and Jhonny Pereda (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 who were eligible for selection in the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft is concerned, the Cubs added RHRP James Norwood to the 40 during the course of the 2018 MLB regular season and LHSP Justin Steele to the 40 on 11/20. 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: INF-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 2017, 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).
 

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MLB 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 a 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.  


CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE FOR SELECTION IN 2019 RULE 5 DRAFT (last updated 7-18-2019)
Jose Albertos, RHP 
Miguel Amaya, C 
Javier Assad, RHP 
Jhonny Bethencourt, INF 
Casey Bloomquist, RHP
Andres Bonalde, LHP  
Craig Brooks, RHP 
Jesus Camargo, RHP
Faustino Carrera, LHP 
Bailey Clark, RHP
Alfredo Colorado, RHP
Yovanny Cuevas, OF 
Zach Davis, OF
Donnie Dewees, OF
Scott Effross, RHP 
Riger Fernandez, LHP
Emilio Ferrebus, RHP 
Wladimir Galindo, 3B-1B
Trent Giambrone, IF-OF
Eric Gonzalez, C 
Fauris Guerrero, RHP 
Tom Hatch, RHP 
Zach Hedges, RHP  
P. J. Higgins, C-INF
Chad Hockin, RHP 
Bryan Hudson, LHP  
Ryan Kellogg, LHP 
Conor Lillis-White, LHP 
Rafelin Lorenzo, C 
Vimael Machin, INF 
Eddy Julio Martinez, OF 
Marcus Mastrobuoni, C
Ivan Medina, RHP 
Fidel Mejia, INF 
Dakota Mekkes, RHP
Tyson Miller, RHP  
M. T. Minacci, RHP
Jordan Minch, LHP 
Kevonte Mitchell, OF
Erling Moreno, RHP
Connor Myers, OF 
Tommy Nance, RHP 
Rafael Narea, INF 
Richard Nunez, C-1B
Pablo Ochoa, LHP
Eugenio Palma, LHP  
Tyler Payne, C
Raymond Pena, C 
Tyler Peyton, RHP
Gustavo Polanco, C-1B   
Eury Ramos, RHP 
Ian Rice, C-1B 
Duncan Robinson, RHP 
Abraham Rodriguez, OF-1B  
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP 
Michael Rucker, RHP 
Carlos Sepulveda, INF
Wyatt Short, LHP 
Zack Short, INF  
Jake Stinnett, RHP
Matt Swarmer, RHP 
Alexander Vargas, RHP
Jerry Vasto, LHP (Article XX-D player)
Omar Ventura, RHP  
D. J. Wilson, OF 
Delvin Zinn, INF 
 
Additionally, a free-agent who signs a 2020 minor league contract prior to the 2019 Rule 5 Draft or a minor league player who is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2020 but who signs a minor league successor contract prior to becoming a free-agent will be eligible for selection in the 2019 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 ARTICLE XX-D or ARTICLE XIX-A MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENT POST-2019  
Jim Adduci, 1B-OF (has Article XX-D rights)
Tim Collins, LHP (has Article XIX-A rights)


MLB RULE 55 FREE-AGENT POST-2019

SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS
Gioskar Amaya, INF
Yasiel Balaguert, 1B-OF (serving as a COACH in 2019) 
Corey Black, RHP
Charcer Burks, OF
Roberto Caro, OF
Erick Castillo, C
Trevor Clifton, RHP
Enrique de los Rios, RHP
Phillip Evans, INF - Article XX-D player 
Johnny Field, OF - Article XX-D player
Luke Hagerty, LHP - Article XX-D player
Danny Hultzen, LHP - Article XX-D player
Erick Leal, RHP
Luis Lugo, LHP 
Dixon Machado, INF - Article XX-D player
Jhonny Pereda, C
Chris Pieters, OF-1B (serving as a COACH in 2019)
Colin Rea, RHP 
Will Remillard, C (serving as a COACH in 2019)
Manuel Rondon, LHP 

SECOND CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS (see NOTES below):
Marcos Encarnacion, RHP (previously released by CIN) 
Julio Guante, RHP (previously released by DET)
Garrett Kelly, RHP (previously released by MIN)
Ryan Lawlor, LHP (previously released by ATL)
John Pomeroy, RHP (previously released by PIT)
Willians Vasquez, RHP (previously released by ATL) 
Danny Zardon, C-INF (previously released by PHI)
NOTE-1: With mutual consent (player & club), a second-contract minor league player who has accrued fewer than seven minor league seasons can be signed to a multi-year minor league contract with club control extending up through the player's seventh minor league season. So it is possible that one or more of the Cubs minor league second contract players are signed beyond the 2019 season (TBD).
NOTE-2: RHP Donato Auguste (previously released by KC), RHP Aneudis Beard (previously released by TEX), RHP Rodrigo Garcia (previously released by NYY), LHP Anderson Parra (previously released by PHI), LHP Jorge Ramirez (previously released by TEX), and C Juan Vasquez (previously released by SD) are second-contract minor league players and so any or all of the five might or might not be minor league FA post-2019 (see NOTE-1 above), but none of the them are eligible for selection in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft if signed beyond 2019.


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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 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 (Atlanta Braves) inadvertently left one of its top prospects off its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) when minor league reserve lists were 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 Injured 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" to help the drafting club fulfill Rule 5 roster obligations (such as by leaving the player on the Injured List 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 an Injured List, the offending club or clubs are subject to a penalty (TBD by the MLB Commissioner).

Comments

Looking at Phil's depth cart for starting pitchers at MB, there seems to be a little hope for the future. Thoughts anyone?

I disagree categorically.

They won't have anyone that's Syndegaard. They have 15 guys that could be (Brandon Woodruff/Junior Guerra) or better.

Expect the Cubs to sign at least a half-dozen veteran players and pitchers with MLB and/or AAA experience to minor league contracts over the next couple of months, including a catcher, a middle-infielder, a four-corner (1B-3B-LF-RF) player, an outfielder, and a couple of pitchers. 

Any chance Derek Dietrich has to settle for a minor league deal? I know you mentioned him before as a possibility for the Cubs. 

dietrich is a miserable 3rd baseman...also probably done with 2nd base at this point in his career.  he's a corner OF/1st type with a last-hope type defensive player at 2nd/3rd.

that said, rumored cubs target d.descalso is a rather cruddy 3rd baseman, too, but he's servicable.

hopefully d.bote's bat stays adequate because he's the main backup at 3rd as it stands.

BRADSBEARD: I believe both Derek Dietrich and Cory Spangenberg (SD #1 draft pick in 2011 when Hoyer & McLeod were running the Padres) are among the Cubs preferred minor league depth signing targets, and Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay are the two primary MLB bench targets (I suspect the Cubs would like to trade Ian Happ for a young SP with upside).  

HAGSAG: The Depth Chart reflects the current Cubs minor league reserve list assignments, which includes the moving on 11/20 of players who were not eligible for selection in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft to the Myrtle Beach reserve list from the AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa rosters. That's why Duncan Robinson (for example) is listed as a Myrtle Beach SP on the Depth Chart, even though he finished the 2018 season at AAA and is likely to be a SP at either AA Tennessee or AAA Iowa on 2019 Opening Day. 

The Depth Chart will be adjusted in March to reflect Minor League Camp assignments. 

Phil, I know you will. We count on it.I am sure a good chunk of the MB starters will wind up in Tenn.

RHP Preston Morrison (Cubs 2015 8th round draft pick - TCU) has retired. 

For those of you who follow such things, the MLB office has (as usual) been closed for business (waivers, approval of contracts, etc) over the holidays (beginning on 12/22), and so the normal seven-day DFA period has been extended to allow waivers to be requested and clubs to claim players.

That's why Luke Farrell was Designated for Assignment by the Angels on 12/21 but has yet to be assigned, and it's why Robby Scott was traded to the Diamondbacks yesterday (12/30) even though he was Designated for Assignment by the Reds on 12/21, and it's why Clayton Richards was traded to the Blue Jays yesterday (12/30) even though he was Designated for Assignment by the Padres on 12/20. 

All DFA's initiated 12/20-12/28 must be resolved by this Friday (1/4). 

The Cubs have signed 27-year old free-agent RHRP Matt Carasiti to a minor league contract. Carasiti was acquired by the Cubs from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for LHRP Zac Rosscup in June 2017 and then was added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2017 World Series, before being released less than a month later so that he could sign with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows (NPB). 

OF Drew Wharton (Cubs 2018 30th round draft pick - Clemson) has retired. 

The Cubs have signed 28-year old free-agent RHSP Colin Rea to a 2019 minor league contract. 

The Cubs have signed free-agent OF Zach Borenstein to a minor league contract. 

The Cubs have signed RHSP Christian Bergman and INF Cristhian Adames to 2019 minor league contracts, and both will presumably get an NRI to MLB Spring Training. 

didnt hear about this rumor...nonetheless...

"Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports that contrary to previous rumors the Cubs did not meet with Bryce Harper on Friday.

Mooney goes on to reiterate that the Cubs have been clear that they will not be signing Harper or any other high-dollar free agent this winter."

Something to keep in mind about players signed to minor league contracts: 

A released minor league player receives two weeks salary as termination pay if he is released during Spring Training or during the minor league season.

A minor league player who is injured during the course of Spring Training or during the minor league regular season receives two weeks  salary as termination pay if he is released no later than the 14th day of his club's regular season, but the injured player receives a full season's salary if he is released after the 14th day of his club's regular season and prior to being healthy enough to be reinstated from the DL.

Which means if any of the NRI players who at Cubs MLB Spring Training get hurt during Spring Training, the player can be released (even if the player is injured, even if it's a season-ending injury) through the 14th day of the minor league regular season and receive two weeks salary as termination pay. 

And that's why free agents signed during the off-season really, really, REALLY want to sign a major league contract rather than a minor league contract, even if the player would get the same salary on the minor league deal as he would on a major league deal. And it's another reason why it sucks to get outrighted to the minors prior to the start of Spring Training.

As things stand now, it is likely that nine pitchers currently on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster will be optioned to Iowa by the end of Spring Training: 

Adbert Alzolay 
Dillon Maples 
Alec Mills 
James Norwood 
Randy Rosario 
Kyle Ryan 
Jen-Ho Tseng 
Duane Underwood Jr 
Rowan Wick 

It's possible that K. Ryan, Tseng, and/or Wick could get outrighted off the 40 (or claimed off waivers) when de la Cruz and Russell are ready to be reinstated from the Restricted List in May, but until that happens, there will probably be only four slots open at Iowa for pitchers not on the 40, and two of them will probably be Trevor Clifton and Dakota Mekkes (and Conor Lillis-White and Duncan Robinson could make the Iowa Opening Day roster as well). 

Which means that is is possible that (at most) only two of the veteran pitchers signed to minor league contracts will actually make the Iowa Opening Day roster (that is, only two from this group of 13): 

Alberto Baldonado
Christian Bergman
Matt Carasiti 
Ian Clarkin 
George Kontos 
Carlos Ramirez 
Colin Rea 
Rob Scahill 
Junichi Tazawa
Jerry Vasto 
Allen Webster
Mike Zagurski 
Rob Zastryzny  

Whichever of the 13 don't make the Iowa Opening Day roster would presumably be released if unwilling to go to EXST and stay in shape in case needed as an injury replacement at Iowa. 

And that's also presuming that Corey Black, Luke Hagerty, Danny Hultzen, and Jose Rosario begin the season at EXST. 

So that would probably mean these 13 pitchers would start the season at AA (even though some of them should probably be at AAA): 

Craig Brooks 
Scott Effross
Tom Hatch 
Zach Hedges 
Conor Lillis-White
Brad Markey 
Jordan Minch 
Duncan Robinson 
Michael Rucker 
Justin Steele 
Jake Stinnett  
Matt Swarmer 
Keegan Thompson 
with Oscar de la Cruz likely to be reinstated from the Restricted List and optioned to AA by the first week of May 

And then these 13 pitchers would presumably start the season at Hi-A Myrtle Beach (and some of these guys should be at AA): 

Cory Abbott 
Bailey Clark 
Bryan Hudson 
Alex Lange 
Ryan Lawlor
Erick Leal
Brendon Little  
Tyson Miller 
Erling Moreno 
Tyler Peyton 
Manuel Rondon 
Wyatt Short 
Erich Uelmen 

And so that would probably leave Luis Aquino, Casey Bloomquist, James Buckelew, Yan de la Cruz, Enrique de los Rios, Dalton Geekie, Brian Glowicki, Ryan Kellogg, Garrett Kelly, Luis Lugo, Mario Meza, Tommy Nance, Alexander Vargas, and Ryan Williams in limbo (at EXST) as potential AAA/AA/Hi-A injury replacements, or one or more of them could get released.  

And then at least 60 more pitchers will be competing for 13 slots at South Bend: 

Maikel Aguiar 
Jose Albertos 
Chris Allen 
Javier Assad 
Sean Barry 
Andres Bonalde 
Jonathan Bruzual 
Fernando Calderon
Jesus Camargo
Faustino Carrera 
Derek Casey 
Alfredo Colorado 
Danis Correa
Yovanny Cruz 
Jeremiah Estrada 
Riger Fernandez 
Kohl Franklin 
Hector Alonso Garcia 
Jose Alejandro Gonzalez
Fauris Guerrero 
Ben Hecht 
Elias Herrera 
Brendan King 
Chi-Feng Lee 
Brailyn Marquez 
Junior Marte 
Ivan Medina 
Riley McCauley 
Brady Miller 
M. T. Minacci 
Zach Mort
Eduarniel Nunez 
Pablo Ochoa 
Carlos Ocampo 
Raidel Orta 
Eugenio Palma 
Jeffrey Passantino 
Jack Patterson 
Yunior Perez 
Jake Reindl
Peyton Remy 
Paul Richan
Stephen Ridings  
Ethan Roberts 
Manuel Rodriguez 
Andry Rondon 
Ruben Reyes 
Casey Ryan 
Cam Sanders
Josh Sawyer
Luis Silva   
Jake Steffens 
Niels Stone 
Mitch Stophel 
Nathan Sweeney 
Jesus Tejada 
Riley Thompson 
Sucre Valdez 
Didier Vargas
Carlos Vega 
Blake Whitney  

Some of the four dozen pitchers who don't make the South Bend Opening Day roster will be at EXST competing for jobs at Eugene (and waiting for a pitcher to get hurt at South Bend), while a few others will be released. 

AZ Phil is in midseason form.

neither cubs sat/sun/mon/tues/wed/thurs games are televised.

lame...very very lame.

first televised game is friday march 1st unless something changes (@Dbacks on the ARZ feed).

2/25 split squad cubs/dodgers game has been picked up to be televised (dodgers feed) ..cubs also playing SD the same day (radio only)

3:05pm EST

https://twitter.com/MDGonzales/status/109751175840...

it's now 79-83 since the brews signed moosetacos, btw...

Has anyone heard if any of these past Cubs minor leaguers have found a team..Mazonni, Rademacher, D. Torrez, Coghlan or Trey Martin? 

HAGSAG: No word yet, but don't be surprised if guys like Rademacher, Martin, and Torrez end up in Mexico or in independent baseball.

A number of former Cubs minor leaguers and big leaguers (INF Arismendy Alcantara, C Sergio Burruel, INF Dustin Geiger, INF-OF Junior Lake, RHP Yoanner Negrin, OF Felix Pie, RHP Armando Rivero, INF Issmael Salas, OF Dave Sappelt, and RHP Carlos Zambrano) played in the Mexican League last year, and INF-OF Logan Watkins just signed with Tijuana after playing indy ball in 2018.  

Besides Watkins, RHP Dallas Beeler, 1B Danny Canela, 1B Kevin Cornelius, OF Shawon Dunston Jr, C-IF-OF Anthony Giansanti, RHP Trey McNutt, RHP James Pugliese, INF-OF Nate Samson, RHP Nick Sarianides, OF Daniel Spingola, LHP Tommy Thorpe, and RHP Michael Wagner played in North American independent leagues last year, RHP Seth Frankoff and LHP Brooks Raley played in the KBO (Korea), LHP Darin Downs played in the CPBL (Taiwan), and OF Xavier Batista hit 25 HR for Hiroshima in the NPB (Japan) last season. 

So there actually are more than just a couple of options for guys like Rademacher, Torrez, Martin, and Mazzoni.  

Don’t see BJ signed to any club yet. Mike Olt, however, played AAA for the Red Sawx last year. Anyone hear if he is resigned?

E-MAN: Mike Olt signed a 2019 minor league contract with the Minnesota Twins last month. 

mlbtr compiles multiple Cub roster moves from today (mostly from Patrick Mooney and Mark Gonzales tweets)...

Alzolay, Tseng to AAA; Steele, De La Cruz to AA; D Robinson, Clarkin, Rea, Burks, Hannemann to minor league camp. As are Brooks Baldonado and Marzilli to Minor league camp. Scahill outright released. Roster at 54.

The Cubs have signed INF Dixon Machado to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to Iowa. 

He is an above-average defensive SS who will provide addidtional INF depth for the Cubs at AAA.  

Machado has 172 games of MLB experience with DET off & on over the course of four seasons (2015-18). 

Confirmed RHRP George Kontos has been released. 

OF Zach Borenstein has been released from Iowa. 

The Cubs have released LHP Alberto Baldonado and RHP Ryan Williams. 

aww...no more ryan williams.

I‘m sad about Williams too. 

The Cubs have released RHRP Dalton Geekie. 

Too many pitchers under contract -- still -- for the organization to evaluate.  There are guys sidetracked at every level and nobody can figure out if they are good unless they get to pitch.  Sorry for Geekie, Baldonado and especially Ryan Williams but those cuts only scratch the surface.  It looks more competitive to get a real pitching role on Tennessee or Myrtle Beach than Chicago.  That's just weird.

It's tough to get to Chicago, though. Ask Rowan Wick.

TJS for AAA Iowa RHSP Duncan Robinson. 

that sucks.  he wasn't much of a ranked prospect, but he had good command and pitch control to all parts of the plate plus he managed to fool batters outside of that.  nice curve that would probably play well in the bigs.

on the bright side, cory abbott and tyson milller are both making a case in AA to have a look at AAA batters.

Just as a reminder, a player on an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) can NOT opt-out of a contract during the season even if the player signed a minor league contract with an opt-out prior to being added to the 40.

Only players signed to a minor league contract who have an automatic (Article XX-B) or contractual opt-out right can opt-out during the MLB regular serason.  

So for example, Carlos Gonzalez could have an opt-out (probably does) on July 1st. 

And Junichi Tazawa probably has a later opt-out (probably July 1st) in the minor league contract he signed on 4/4 after being released at the end of Spring Training than the automatic Article XX-B June 1st opt-out (and $100K retention bonus) he had in the original minor league contract he signed in January. 

And even though he is in the minor leagues, Tim Collins cannot have an in-season opt-out because he is on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster. 

I keep reading at various sites that the Cubs signed Robel Garcia after seing him play in the WBC (Garcia never played in the WBC) or they saw him play in Italy, but (as I wrote here last year when the Cubs signed him) what actually happened is the Cubs signed Garcia after watching him play for Team Italy in AZ Instructs last September-October. 

Team Italy was a guest of the Oakland A's at Fitch Park last Fall and fielded a team in the AZ Instructional League and Garcia just lit it up. And although the Cubs did not field a team in AZ Instructs post-2018, they did scout the games and that's where they saw Garcia. (The Cubs signed him in October as soon as Instructs concluded). 

And then Garcia tied for the lead in HR among Cubs minor leaguers at Minor League Camp in March, which is how & why he ended up on the AA Tennesee Opening Day roster. He wasn't there as some back-up utility infielder. 

The problem with Garcia (and this was mentioned to me by a scout recently) is that if he proves himself at AA (and he's now at AAA) he projects as a DH (for an American League team) or a switch-hitting bat off the bench (for a National League team) who can (in a pinch) play all four infield positions (though none of them very well). 

So he could potentially play for a soccer club while playing baseball as well? I am just making a broad stereotype that he played soccer first, and was good at it in Italy?

He’s from the Dominican Republic, not Italy. He was an Indians prospect for several years and went to Italy after being release a couple years ago. 

"So he could potentially play for a soccer club while playing baseball as well?"

No, you're thinking of Javier Assad.

https://www.google.com/search?q=6360337-video-cubs-prospect-javier-assad-kicks-ball-to-first-base-to-make-awesome-soccer-inspired-out.html&cad=h

The Cubs have released RHP Brad Markey. 

The Cubs released RHRP Matt Carasiti late Friday afternoon, and within minutes he was signed by the Seattle Mariners. Pretty much the same thing happened after Brad Markey was released by the Cubs last Sunday. He was signed by the Cincinnati Reds the next day and got a slot in AAA (something he was unable to do with the Cubs). 

Sometimes a club will tell a guy that there is no room for him in the system (or at the "appropriate" level in the system for that player), and so he is granted permission to explore other opportunities and will get his release if he finds something. If not, he can remain in the organization, but it will probably mean being placed on the "phantom" IL or being assigned (on paper) to a short-season affiliate's roster or being placed on the Temporarily Inactive List (unpaid Leave of Absence) until a roster slot opens up. 

While the club that releases the player gets nothing in return, the player and his agent don't forget. 

I know Kimbrel will be in Iowa soon, and Underwood just got bumped to the pen, but I’m hoping this indicates that Craig Brooks will get another shot in Iowa soon.

Man, I'm still handicapping Underwood's release this year as even-money. First starter, now the pen, next will be line-chalker. He just seems like out-and-out bust material at this time.

E-MAN: Duane Underwood Jr will be out of minor league options next season, so he would be a likely DFA or non-tender candidate post-2018. But it's also possible that he could get traded before it comes to that. In either case, he doesn't appear to have any long-term future with the Cubs. 

Am I crazy or do the Cubs seem to have a bad habit of holding on to underperforming minor leaguers. I am not talking about guys that are developing and are having a bad year, I get that there will be bumps along the way. I am talking about guys who had a disasterous first go round at a level and are having a disasterous second go round. And in some rare cases, a disasterous third go round. Is it really that important to clog the system at Double-A or Triple-A with older, "more experienced" players rather than giving guys a shot to compete and move up? I know with the draft the organization will get infused with 30-35 new guys, so there will be some attrition. But I guess I'm asking if this is normal? I don't want to call out any names (not trying to be intentionally hurtful) but at what point do you peg a player as topping out at a certain level and be realistic about their chances?

Not a direct answer to your question, but something I picked up along the way somewhere... Some of the value in minor leaguers is being a "seat filler" to fill out the system so that other prospecty types have a half-decent team to play with.  Good in the clubhouse (or at least not a problem), probably a plus defender, OBP in the .290-.320 range, SLG topping at .400.  A player like that gives the rest of the team something solid-enough to play with nightly. Especially the defense part b/c that helps the pitching have more "normalized" innings (ie, not having an inning  extended by an error or sloppy play in the field; learning to trust fielding & pitch to contact; etc.). 

For instance, I think there are some OF players who are clearly in this category, both currently & recently. Trey Martin was in the system for 7 years for that reason. I wouldn't be surprised to see Connor Myers hang on for a long time. On the infield, maybe somebody like Yasiel Balaguert. 

If I am talking out my @#$%, which is always possible/likely, somebody please correct me. 

That totally makes sense about seat fillers. I had read before that a guy like Connor Myers specifically, was always going to have a place in the organization because he's a plus plus defender. And I understand guys who have one tool that is plus or even plus plus that are kept around in hopes they can develop other facets of their game. Or the idea of organizational depth guys.

Mostly I am just wondering why we have so many pitchers getting blocked when some of the guys blocking them aren't necessarily demonstrably better. Plus sometimes it feels like Theo and Co. aren't willing to cut bait on a guy. Or they are stocking the high minors with classic Four-A players so fringy prospects aren't getting meaningful innings or assignments. I was pretty happy to see Giambrone and Short (before his injury) get the nod to Triple-A.

If the skill sets are relatively the same, I'd rather challenge the 24 year old, than have a 28 year old retread. I know the big league club doesn't have a lot of openings, but I just feel like the Cubs don't really have a plan to develop guys through the high minors unless they're superstars and it's obvious.

Jim Brower, a former MLB pitcher who had a pretty solid career, was the Cubs' Minor League Pitching Coordinator through 2017.  He was replaced by Brendan Sagara, for whom WHO? would be a fair comment.  Sagara's highest level of pitching experience was a cup of coffee with the independent Evansville Otters in the Frontier League.  I think it's fair to say development of the pitching-heavy 2016-18 draft classes has been disappointing, perhaps VERY disappointing.  I can't say this is Sagara's fault but it is definitely occuring on his watch.

JustSayin': Brendan Sagara is the Mad Scientist who developed & implemented the high-tech Cubs Pitching Lab at the UAPC in Mesa. The Pitching Lab can't turn everybody into Jacob deGrom, but so far it has helped to develop Tyson Miller into a legit MLB SP prospect and bring Danny Hultzen back from the dead. 

The Cubs have released LHRP Brian Duensing. 

Duensing was sent outright to AAA Iowa at the end of Spring Training (because he has Article XIX-A rights Duensing had to consent to the assignment), and was placed on the I-Cubs 7-day IL on May 12th.  

So the Cubs are on the hook for Duensing's entire $3.5M salary, unless he signs a major league contract with another club (not too likely).   

The Cubs have released LHRP Ian Clarkin. He was claimed off waivers from the White Sox (twice) last off-season before finally being outrighted to the minors in February. He spent the 2019 season in the AA Tennessee bullpen, and was scheduled to be a minor league 6YFA post-2019, so this means he will get about a five-month head-start on the FA process. 

The guy who needs to be moved-up to AA ASAP is LHRP Ryan Lawlor. I saw him throw in Minor League Camp and his FB was 91-93 (T-94) with a solid breaking ball, and lefty relievers can come out of nowhere. He's 25 years old and really has nothing more to prove at single-A. 

Saw Kimbrel last night. Sat 94 w/FB, first 7 of his 19 pitches were strikes. No Ks, no BBs, 1 ringing double. Needs more seasoning, I‘d say. Sure passes the eye/mound presence test, tho...

CK started tonight to beat the storm & went 2/3, 14 pitches; A hit (HR), a walk and a K...are those the “three true outcomes”? Again sat 94, touched 95...built like a football player.

Yeah, he pitched for the cycle, in the truest sense...

We're beginning to see some in-season position-player promotions in the Cubs system, with 1B Tyler Durna (a Mark Grace clone) and INF Delvin Zinn (who projects as an MLB utility infielder) moving-up from South Bend to Myrtle Beach. Expect a few of this year's college draft picks to move-up to Eugene from the AZL this week as well. 

Good luck to Zinn and Durna heading to the Myrtle Beach, where hits and runs are precious commodities and not easy to come by (see MB’s record of 27-52). Shout out to MB starting pitcher Paul Richan and his Steve Carlton-esque 8-3 record, no easy task. 

Tyler Durna and Delvin Zinn are the type of players the Cubs would probably have to give up to get somebody like Neil Walker (from Miami), if the Cubs are looking to improve their bench. Kind of like the Cubs trading INF Andruw Monasterio (very similar player as Zinn) to Washington for Daniel Murphy last August. (Like Zinn, Monasterio projects as an MLB utility infielder).  

Could do worse than a platoon of Bote and  Walker at second (e.g., what the Cubs are routinely running out there now).  What kind of players/prospects for Merrifield?

Prospects we don’t have.

ERIC S: It would require a better package than what the Cubs gave up to get Jose Quintana from the White Sox in 2017, so Nico Hoerner, Miguel Amaya, and any two pitchers in the Cubs organization (Royals choice) would probably be the best offer the Cubs could make, and even that might not be enough.  

So you‘re saying there is a chance?

Pretty damn steep and Q was younger! Ouch. 

It’s not as steep in the general sense. Both cease and Eloy were top 100 prospects I think? And Eloy was I believe number 2 or 3 in all MLB. 

Hoerner and Amaya, while our top 2, are ”only” borderline top 100, which is why Alzolay would almost certainly merit inclusion. He’s MLB ready and has upside The fourth guy would either be a high floor type (college arm in our 10-20 range) or lower in the system but high upside (in other words, a lottery ticket).

While this would really hurt our system, other teams systems could pretty easily outbid that package.

Yes to this. Steep in the sense it would really hurt our minor league system. 

The thing about the Cubs minor league system circa 2019 is that while there are no Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease elite-type prospects, the system has a lot of depth & redundancy, which allowed the Cubs to rather easily acquire Cole Hamels, Daniel Murphy, Jesse Chavez, and Brandon Kintzler last year and Justin Wilson and Alex Avila in 2018. 

So while the Cubs can't offer an MLB Top 10 or even Top 50 prospect in a deal, they can package a couple or even three legit (though not elite) MLB prospects to acquire players who will be free-agents post-2019 (like Neil Walker, Melky Cabrera, Jake Diekman, or Tony Watson) or maybe have control for an additional season beyond 2019 (like Jonathan Villar). 

The Orioles in particular look like an obvious trade partner for the Cubs (if the Cubs see somebody they like in Baltimore) because the Orioles are already way out of contention and former Cubs Player Develoment Director and MLB Bench Coach Brandon Hyde, former Cubs Minor League Field Coordinator (and Catching Coordinator) Tim Cossins, and former Cubs Minor League Infield Coordinator Jose Flores are on the Orioles MLB staff, and I'm not sure that there are very many in the Cubs organization right now who know as much about the Cubs minor league system as Hyde, Cossins, and Flores.  

A player the Cubs might look to acquire (and it would cost at least as much as Whit Merrifield would cost) is Orioles OF Trey Mancini (plus maybe Jonathan Villar as well). The package going to Baltimore would almost certainly have to include Hoerner and M. Amaya, but the Cubs can add additional legit (though not elite) prospects as well and still have more similar-type prospects left over just because of their overall organizational depth/redundancy. 

Keep in mind that while Hoerner, M. Amaya, and Alzolay are probably the Cubs Top 3 prospects, all three are only borderline Top 100 prospects in MLB. We're not talking Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease-type prospects here. 

Looking at Villar’s 2018 stats ... switch hitter who bats better as a lefty (360 OBP) vs righty (265 OBP). 16 stolen bases (6 CS).  Haven’t checked defensive stats but presumably better glove than Bote at 2nd?  Villar could assume lead off role against righty pitchers (gets on base better than Schwarber, less station to station and is an actual base stealing threat)

ERIC S: Villar is faster (he's one of the fastest players in MLB) and has more range than Bote at 2B but Bote has a stronger arm. Villar can play SS as well as 2B (but he's MUCH better at 2B), so he is a 2B who can also play SS while Bote is a 2B who can also play 3B. 

Would be a decent bridge until Nico Hoerner is ready to make the jump. 

ERIC S: Villar is under control through 2020, so Hoerner would not need to be rushed but at the same time he wouldn't be blocked at 2B, either. 

Also gives the Cubs a viable major league shortstop should Javy need a breather or, worse yet, get injured. No need to keep Russell on the roster. 

ERIC: Right. If Villar were to be acquired by the Cubs this month, Russell can be optioned to Iowa until September roster-expansion and then traded or non-tendered post-2019. And if Villar replaces Russell on the 25, the Cubs would still have room for another bench bat (like N. Walker or M. Cabrera, or even both if Descalso is dropped from the 25) since they are presently operating with a three-man bench and a nine-man bullpen (which probably won't last much longer). 

There.is NO ONE I wouldn't trade from Cubs prospects, if I  believed that new player(s) would get them to the World Series. NO ONE. Not one of them projects to be 60-65 MLB starter.

On the one hand, I absolutely agree with you.

On the other, that’s kinda how we got into this mess of basically having 8 average to above average MLB position players and like 3 pitchers in Theo era grow from drafted/ international signing to actual MLB innings for Cubs.

Look at the best run orgs. They don’t operate that way. I think the Cubs really, really need to scout their own organization a little better. 

Great reference to Steve Carlton and the 1972 Phillies:  otherworldly pitching performance on an atrocious team.

Carlton is the go to guy for sure - 2018 deGrom x 2 (72 Phillies had the decency to at least win Carlton’s games)

The Cubs have released INF Yeiler Peguero. 

OF Carlos Gonzalez has elected free-agency after being outrighhted to Iowa yesterday (Monday). 

The Cubs have released 3B Jesse Hodges. 

Rafael Mejia, Ruben Reyes, and Dalton Hurd also released today. 

Jesse Hodges was signed by then-Cubs Pacific Rim Scouting Coordinator Steve Wilson as a NDFA in September 2012 after being named MVP and leading Team Canada to the 18U World Cup Championship in South Korea but struggled to make contact and/or find a consistent power stroke in pro ball, Rafael Mejia (2014 IFA - Dominican Republic) could put on quite a show in BP (he won the HR Derby at AZ Instructs post-2016) but he couldn't translate his power to games (plus he was a well below-average defender who was moved from 3B to 1B a couple of years ago to cut-down on his too-frequent errors at the hot corner), Ruben Reyes (one of about two dozen players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico 2015-18) was a plus-defender in the OF with a plus-arm but he couldn't hit a lick and so he was converted to a LHP last summer in the AZL, and Dalton Hurd (Cubs 25th round draft pick - Seattle University) was a glove-first athletic corner OF who (like Reyes) just could not hit in pro ball. 

The Cubs have released INF Cristhian Adames and OF Jose Cardona (6YFA signed by the Cubs last off-season). They were on Rehab Assignments in the AZL. 

It was interesting that the Cubs would opt to release AAA Iowa CF Jacob Hannemann at this time.

A 2017 Rawlings AAA Gold Glove winner, Hannemann was one of the in-house candidates (Wynton Bernard and Roberto Caro are the other two) to get a September call-up for the very specialized "5th OF / PR" gig (the job Terrence Gore did last year), plus Hannemann is in the mdidle of a hot streak at the plate (hitting 320/363/360 over his last nine games).  

The Cubs usually just place #3 catcher Erick Castillo on the 7-day "phantom" IL when they need a roster slot at Iowa. Obviously they didn't do that this time. 

BTW, somebody asked me recently how a club can place a player on the "phantom" IL in the minor leagues but not in MLB. That's because a physician must certify an injury before a player can be placed on an MLB IL, but a physician's certification is not required before placing a player on a minor league IL.

The only thing is, the club still must give a reason when placing a player on a minor league IL ("arm fatigue" is a good one for pitchers and "calf strain" or "back tightness" is typical for position players), and the player must go along with the phantom IL assignment in order for it to happen. That's why it usually involves pitchers or position players who are borderline release candidates and/or guys who have an interest in becoming a coach with the organzation, and it's also sometimes why you see players who are tired of being moved back & forth from the active list to the IL just to help out the organization with a roster jam get released. 

Also, the move seemingly leaves the Cubs very thin in MLB-ready CF depth. If Almora were to get injured, there would be zero true CF in the organization with MLB experience. I don't love the idea of trying to play a postseason with Heyward as the only real OF on the roster. 

One thing the Cubs will need to do is make sure that post-7/31 trade deadline every position in the Iowa lineup and on the bench and every slot in the I-Cubs starting rotation and bullpen are filled by players who are MLB-ready, because the Cubs will not be able to make a waiver trade for an MLB player in August as in years past. 

I’ve been thinking about this with regard to guys like Dixon Machado and Phillip Evans. The Cubs aren’t going to want to give those guys a chance in the majors before September because they are out of options and because they are needed as insurance after the trade deadline (or possible trade chips if the Cubs fall out of it). Just seems like the new deadline rules have made it harder for fringe MLB guys on minor league deals to get another crack at the majors. 

Evans has 2 options remaining according to Roster Resource. Machado 0.

chitownmvp01: Actually it's right here at TCR and has been all year and I update it almost daily: 

https://www.thecubreporter.com/07052019/cubs-2019-...

That was an assumption on my part about Evans. Should have checked! But regardless, the point stands about Machado. Adames was in the same boat but at least the Cubs gave him his release so he could look for another opportunity. Even with options remaining Evans might be more valuable to the Cubs off the 40 man in the odd chance that another team becomes desparate for a replacement in August. Colin Rea is another guy like that (even though he has options). 

Why hasn't Zagunis replaced Descalso on the roster yet? Heyward and Almora are currently the only natural outfielders on the roster. And Descalso sucks too.

Also any news on Cedeno? Haven't found any. Hasn't pitched since 6/20 and 30 days are up on the rehab assignment on Tuesday.

News on Cedeno: he’s terrible. Not sure if that’s really news though?

He probably re-injured himself and they just haven’t updated th Iowa roster to reflect his rehab was terminated

DJL: With approval of the MLB Commissioner, if a player incurs a new (different) injury or illness or suffers a recurrence of the previous injury or illness while on a Minor League Rehabilitation Assignment, the player must be recalled from his Rehab Assignment and remain inactive for at least five days (for position players) or seven days (for pitchers) before starting another Minor League Rehab Assignment. 

They don't usually update it when that happens, but you can tell when it does because the player is inactive for a number of days and is not reinstated from the IL (as has been the case with Cedeno since his last minor league rehab appearance on 6/20).  

LHRP Xavier Cedeno has started a new (fresh) Article XIX-C Minor League Rehab assignment, this time with AZL Cubs #2. Because he was inactive for at least seven days after the previous Rehab Assignment at AA Tennessee was halted, there is a reset, and so he could spend up to 30 days on the new assignment.  

No roster move tonight. :(

Zagunis for Descalso, come on already, make it happen!!!!!!

The Cubs have signed 20-year old second-contract FA RHRP Rodrigo Garcia (ex-NYY) to a minor league contract. He was the closer for the DSL Yankees in 2017 but hasn't pitched for a couple of years.  

What is the extent of Nelson Velazquez injury? Is he in Mesa Phil? Thanks.

HAGSAG: Nelson Velazquez has been in Mesa for a while but I don't know the nature of his injury. Hopefully he will begin an AZL rehab assignment soon and then get back to South Bend.   

The Cubs have released RHP Jesus Tejada. 

The Cubs have released RHRP Junichi Tazawa and OF Wynton Bernard. 

And another true CF gone from the org. Guess they must be comfortable with Donnie Dewees defensively if there's an injury to one of the only two actual OF on the 25.

seamer: With Jacob Hannemann and Wynton Bernard having been released, Roberto Caro and Zach Davis (both now at AA after Z. Davis got promoted from Myrtle Beach yesterday) are really the only two in-house September "5th OF / PR" candidates.

Both Caro and Z. Davis are fast and steal a lot of bases, although Caro is a much better defensive OF than Z. Davis (Caro can play all three OF positions while Z. Davis is limited to LF-CF because of a below-average arm). Caro could conceivably have an MLB career as a 4th or 5th OF, especially starting next season when MLB active rosters will be expanded from 25 to 26 and the 26th man cannot be a pitcher.   

If either were to be added to the 40 in September, it's very unlikely he would survive the off-season on the 40. The Cubs just have too many Rule 5 Draft-eligible players they will have to protect. So a September call-up for either of them would be like the Cubs adding Terrence Gore or Quintin Berry in previous seasons. Strictly a seasonal temp job.  

Cubs 2019 first round pick RHP Ryan Jensen scheduled to make his first minor league start tonight for the Eugene Emeralds

FWIW, Happ has been fine if not flashy in CF this year, his primary position...

AZ Phil,

What can you tell us about Alexander Guerra and his performance as of late?  2 - 3HR games in two weeks, 1.200 Slg %.  Does he have any kind of value as a prospect?

videographer: Alexander Guerra is 22 years old and is repeating AZL.

He played in Serie Nacional (the Cuban major league) prior to signing with the Cubs in 2017 and it was presumed (at the time he signed) that he would almost certainly be at South Bend in 2018, but he reported to Mesa out of shape (weighing 250+) and was left behind at Extended Spring Training and then was assigned to the AZL.

Exact same thing happened this year. 

As I've mentioned here before, Guerra has plus-HR power with an uppercut swing but he swings & misses a lot, and while he is a polished receiver, he has just an OK arm (nothing special) and he is not very athletic behind the plate.

Hopefully he can (finally) get to South Bend in 2020.   

The Cubs have released C Francisco Arcia. 

Phil can you give me a scouting report on Pedro Martinez? It seems the Cubs are loaded with young MI'ers.

HAGSAG: Pedro Martinez is a bat-first switch-hitting infielder capable of playing 2B-3B-SS (best position is 2B). He runs well and is a savvy baserunner, shows occasional HR power, and is at least as good a hitter as Reivaj Garcia (probably even better). 

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  • QuietMan 1 hour 35 min ago (view)

    Edwards optioned to Iowa per Jesse Rogers,

     

  • George Altman 1 hour 50 min ago (view)

    Yeah.....yeah. I think I'm good too. Put him and Strop in the Shawn Greene deal.

     

  • Mike Wellman 3 hours 58 min ago (view)

    I feel like I've already waited & seen enough of CEJ...

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 4 hours 20 min ago (view)

    Not as much as it makes his stomach tighten!

    i dont think we should trade him. We would get nothing of value back. But I don’t think he should be a bullpen piece on a playoff contender either. He should be in Iowa. Reassess where he’s at for September and next year. If they don’t like what they see, non-tender.

     

  • Charlie 4 hours 52 min ago (view)

    Cheap may not be the right word, but has put up reasonable value per dollar compared to other relievers prior to this ear.

    He accrued 2.9 bWAR 2017-2018. Strop put up 3.2 bWAR during the same period. Edwards is making $1.5M this year. Strop is making $6.25M. He'll get a bump again this offseason even if he doesn't rebound in the second half, of course. I just don't see a need to trade him unless the Cubs are being offered value in return.

    That said, it does make my stomach knot up a bit when I see they are bringing him into a close game.

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 29 min ago (view)

    Carl Edwards Jr will be out of minor league options next season (2020), and he will (once again) be arbitration-eligible post-2019 (he was "Super Two" arb eligible post-2018) and he will be a FA post-2022. 

     

  • crunch 18 hours 12 min ago (view)

    cubs lose, cards win, brews win.

    boo.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 19 hours 58 min ago (view)

    I think this is his last option year. And he’s not as cheap as you’d think, he’s a super two qualified player this year.

     

  • Charlie 20 hours 8 min ago (view)

    Edwards is frustrating at times. Some of that frustration comes from thinking he could be much better than he currently is. But prior to this year (in which he has pitched very few innings), he's overall been an OK relief pitcher in the majors. I'm happy to wait and see on him for quite a while. Still has an option and is cheap, right?

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 21 hours 7 min ago (view)

    I feel pretty safe in saying that 1. They don’t want him and 2. If they did, things wouldn’t improve for CJ.

    Allowing inherited runners and 1-2 of your own in a close game is what I like to call the “Carl Jr Special.” It was formerly a Justin Grimm special, thankfully Carl stepped up to fill that void.

     

  • crunch 21 hours 14 min ago (view)

    there's always nick castellanos for a chance to rid of edwards...at which point a couple month rental will probably turn edwards into their ace closer or something just as awesome.

     

  • Eric S 21 hours 15 min ago (view)

    The bitter side of me thinks it should have been a two for one trade for Maldonado 

    Anyways, has not been a clean series for the Cubs against the Padres - fortunate to have won the series and a 7-2 home stand is a pretty big dill. Or deal. Or something

     

  • crunch 21 hours 20 min ago (view)

    edwards gonna edwards...blah

     

  • bradsbeard 22 hours 49 min ago (view)

    Thanks for the clarification. Guess we’ll find out what he’s going to do sooner than later. 

     

  • crunch 23 hours 53 min ago (view)

    delay over, game on.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    And if Zobrist were to consent to an Optional Assignment to the minors for the purpose of getting into playing shape, it could very well be to AA Tennessee (close to his home in Nashville) rather than to AAA Iowa. He might even just play home games for the Smokies and then work out on his own while they are on the road.