Your 2019 AZL Cubs #1! (and your 2019 AZL Cubs #2, Too!!)
2019 AZL Opening Day is this coming Monday (6/17).
The AZL regular season runs through Monday 8/26, and then AZL playoffs start on the following day (Tuesday 8/27).
AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 are both in the AZL East, and they play a 56-game schedule. Because they are in the same division, the two Cubs squads will play each other four times during the course of the AZL regular season.
Because there are 21 teams in the league, not every team plays every day. In the case of the Cubs, both AZL Cubs #1 - AND - AZL Cubs #2 always play the exact same four days in a row and then both get the same fifth day off. The only exceptions are this coming Tuesday (the two Cubs teams play on Monday but then both get Tuesday off before commencing their four days on / one day off sequence on Wednesday), and all AZL team get July 9th off (the day of the MLB All-Star game), so the two Cubs teams end up getting two days in a row off (7/8 and 7/9). Otherwise, AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 play four days in a row and then get a day off every fifth day for the next ten weeks.
Unlike 2018 (the first season that the Cubs operated two AZL teams), the schedule has been set-up so that the two Cubs AZL teams will not play home games on the same day (unless they are playing each other), so all AZL Cubs home games (both AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2) will be played at Sloan Park (the Cubs' Spring Training stadium), and then Field #1 (which is the only Riverview backfield with lights certified for pro baseball and the field that was used for games last year when two AZL Cubs home games were scheduled on the same day) will be used for pre-game BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills, and "unofficial" intrasquad games and rehab or conditioning "sim" games only.
A maximum of six players presently on minor league injured lists will be assigned to roster-exempt rehab assignments with the two Cubs AZL squads at any one time (three being the maximum number of minor league players on full-season affiliates injured lists who are permitted to be assigned to any one short-season affiliate at any one time). The rehab guys will move back & forth between the two Cubs AZL squads and will usually (when possible) play in home games (assigned to whichever one of the two Cubs AZL teams is home that day). NOTE: RHP Enrique de los Rios (on Myrtle Beach 7-day IL since Opening Day) was supposed to be assigned on a roster-exempt rehab assignment with one of the Cubs AZL squads, but he was assigned on a roster-exempt rehab assignment with Eugene yesterday instead.
Because both Cubs AZL squads are based at the Cubs UAPC at Riverview Park, all players (not just rehabbers) can be moved back & forth between the AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 active rosters at a moments's notice, so the Opening Day roster assignments as they stand today are fluid and very much subject to change. However, the Cubs will try and keep the two rosters intact with the same players together on the same squad for the entire season as much as possible.
2019 Cubs draft picks (and NDFA) will normally be assigned initially to one of the two Cubs AZL squads. This allows the player to both get Cubs Way orientation and play in his first pro games all in one place before possibly moving up to Eugene (or maybe even to South Bend) later this summer.
At present is is not known which players presently on the two Cubs AZL rosters will begin the season on the injured list, but RHSP Willy Cabrera, RHSP Yovanny Cruz, RHSP Danis Correa, LHRP Riger Fernandez, LHSP Joel Machado, RHRP Jake Reindl, SS Miguel Pabon, and OF Ricardo Verenzuela have not been participating in "live" BP this week.
Also, most of the pitchers signed by the Cubs after being selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft earlier this month have been assigned to the Rehab/Conditioning Throwing Program at the Mesa UAPC that will keep them from making their pro debut and pitching in games for a while.
Most of the position player signed after being drafted will be cleared to play in AZL games pretty much right away (or at least very soon).
So here are the provisional AZL Cubs ##1 and AZL Cubs #2 Opening Day rosters as of 6/15 (subject to change on a daily basis):
2019 CUBS AZL:
Carlos Chantres (Rehab Pitching Coordinator)
Tyler Pearson (Rehab Coach)
Jonathan Fierro (Rehab Athletic Trainer)
AZL CUBS #1:
37 players (including two roster-exempt REHAB players)
Josh Burgmann (2019 draft pick)
Chris Clarke (2019 draft pick)
Brad Deppermann (2019 draft pick)
* Misael Garcia
* Brandon Hughes (ex-OF)
Ryan Jensen (2019 draft pick)
Chris Kachmar (2019 draft pick)
* Bryan King (2019 draft pick)
* Conor Lillis-White (REHAB - roster-exempt)
* Brendon Little (REHAB - roster-exempt)
Alex Moore (2019 draft pick)
* Pablo Ochoa
* Luis Rodriguez
Cayne Ueckert (2019 draft pick)
* Grayson Byrd (2019 draft pick)
* Ervis Marchan
# Pedro Martinez
Jacob Olson (2019 draft pick)
* Bryce Windham (2019 draft pick)
* Albert Hinirio
Nelson Maldonado (2019 draft pick)
* Ezequiel Pagan
Zac Taylor (2019 draft pick)
Yasiel Balaguert (Assistant Coach)
Chase Spivey (Hitting Coach)
Anderson Taveras (Pitching Coach)
STRENGTH & CONDITIOING COACH:
AZL CUBS #2:
33 players (including two roster-exempt REHAB players)
Matteo Bocchi (2019 NDFA)
Tanner Dalton (2019 draft pick)
* Riger Fernandez
Jamie Galazin (ex-OF)
Jose Miguel Gonzalez
Chad Hockin (REHAB - roster exempt)
* D. J. Herz (2019 draft pick)
* Joel Machado
* Josh Sawyer
* Luis Silva
Orian Nunez (ex-INF)
* Rochest Cruz
# Josue Huma
* Abraham Rodriguez
# Jose Gutierrez (REHAB - roster-exempt)
* Darius Hill (2019 draft pick)
* Ricardo Verenzuela
Claudio Almonte (Hitting Coach)
Manny Olivera (Pitching Coach)
Chris Pieters (Assistant Coach)
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH:
Dolorous Jon Lester 12 min 46 sec ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 8 hours 58 min ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 10 hours 52 min ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 11 hours 36 min ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 11 min ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 13 hours 13 min ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 13 hours 18 min ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 13 hours 19 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 13 hours 31 min ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.
crunch 13 hours 36 min ago (view)
i am rooting for the cubs to retain schwarber.
even though he's average on the best of days in LF (except his above average arm), i would like to see him and his work ethic remain in the cubs system...the homers from the left side of the plate are nice, too.
Arizona Phil 13 hours 59 min ago (view)
At least as things stand right now, Kris Bryant is your Cubs de facto 2021 Opening Day LF! (Of course we know he will be traded before then...).
Otherwise, minor league NRI outfielders Ian Miller, Michael Hermosillo, and Rafael Ortega will be competing for Opening Day OF slots, with a legit shot to win a job.
Even Alfonso Rivas (who was hitting rockets from foul line to foul line at AZ Instructs) and/or Eddy Julio Martinez (who has had a very good winter in the Mexican Pacific League) might have a shot.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 1 min ago (view)
I would think that both Colin Rea and Kyle Ryan must have signed contracts with minor league split salaries, otherwise I doubt very much that they would have been tendered.
Arizona Phil 14 hours 13 min ago (view)
With Tepera non-tendered and Winkler, Ryan, and Rea signed, the Cubs 2021 Opening Day bullpen (right now) would appear to be Kimbrel (clearly not tradeable), Wick (virtual lock), Winkler (can't be optioned without his consent), Underwood (out of minor league options), and Maples (out of minor league options), and then three from amongst Adam, Norwood, Rea, Ryan, Stock, and Wieck (each of whom can be optioned back & forth to AAA as needed).
Arizona Phil 14 hours 32 min ago (view)
The Cubs have signed RHSP Colin Rea, LHRP Kyle Ryan, and RHRP Dan Winkler to 2021 MLB contracts (terms TBD) and tendered 2021 MLB contracts to all other unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) except OF Albert Almora, OF-1B Jose Martinez, OF Kyle Schwarber, and RHRP Ryan Tepera.
So Almora, J. Martinez, Schwarber, and Tepera are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club (including the Cubs) without any salary restrictions.
The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 34 (six slots are open).
Arizona Phil 14 hours 54 min ago (view)
Keep in mind that as things stand right now the Cubs projected 2021 MLB payroll is almost $50M under the 2021 CBT threshold (which will be $210M), so they don't have to worry about contract AAV if they can sign a player to a multi-year deal with a low 2021 base salary and then substantially higher salaries post-2021 (when they should be able to generate their normal attendance-based revenues --.presuming CoViD-19 is no longer a problem by that time).
Arizona Phil 15 hours 34 min ago (view)
TIME OUT: As I mentioned in the post, the Cubs cannot cut Schwarber's base salary more than 20% without first non-tendering him, so if he is agreeable the Cubs could sign him for a relatively low base 2021 salary (something like $5M) combined with performance bonuses based upon actual PA (not pro-rated PA) maybe totaling $5M (which would cover the Cubs if the 2021 season is truncated), and then maybe an additional year or two (2022-23) for something like $10M per year plus performance bonuses (again, based on PA). Schwarber could get a player opt-out as well post-2021.