Projected Post-2019 Cubs Off-Season Roster

As things stand right now at the 2019 MLB All-Star Break.... 

: 37 players 

* bats or throws left 
# bats both

Adbert Alzolay 
Brad Brach (2020 club option will be declined, then Brach will exercise player option - see OTHER below) 
Tyler Chatwood 
Yu Darvish (will not opt-out) 
Oscar de la Cruz 
Carl Edwards Jr 
Kendall Graveman (2020 club option will be exercised)
Kyle Hendricks 
* Danny Hultzen (eligible to be 6YFA - will be added to 40 no later than 5th day after final game of World Series)
Craig Kimbrel 
* Jon Lester
Dillon Maples 
Dakota Mekkes (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20) 
Tyson Miller (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20)
James Norwood 
* Jose Quintana (club option will be exercised)
Colin Rea (eligible to be 6YFA - will be added to 40 no later than 5th day after final game of World Series)
* Kyle Ryan 
* Justin Steele 
Rowan Wick 

Miguel Amaya (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20)  
# Victor Caratini 
Willson Contreras 
P. J. Higgins (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20)
Jhonny Pereda (eligible to be 6YFA - will be added to 40 no later than 5th day after final game of World Series)

Javier Baez 
David Bote 
Kris Bryant 
# Robel Garcia 
Trent Giambrone (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20)
* Anthony Rizzo (club option will be exercised) 
Zack Short (Rule 5 Draft eligible - will be added to 40 by 11/20)

Albert Almora 
# Ian Happ
* Jason Heyward (will not opt-out)  
* Kyle Schwarber 
Mark Zagunis (will be out of minor league options in 2020)


ARTICLE XX-B MLB FREE-AGENT (at 9 AM Eastern on day after final game of World Series): 8 
Tony Barnette, P (club option will be declined but he could be released prior to conclusion of regular season) 
* Xavier Cedeno, P (or he could even be released prior to conclusion of regular season if roster slot is needed)
Steve Cishek, P 
* Cole Hamels, p (Cubs will extend an Article XX-B Qualifying Offer and Hamels might accept it) 
Brandon Kintzler, P 
Brandon Morrow, P (club option will be declined) 
Pedro Strop, P 
# Ben Zobrist, INF-OF 
NOTE: They won't receive a Qualifying Offer, but Cubs might try and re-sign Cishek, Kintzler, and/or Strop (but at most no more than two of the three) to 2020 MLB contract after they become free-agents, but Barnette, Cedeno, Morrow, and Zobrist will not be offered 2020 contracts. 

DFA/OUTRIGHTED POST-2019 (sometime prior to 5 PM Eastern on 5th day after final game of World Series): 5 
Alec Mills, P (will be out of minor league options in 2020 - see NOTE-2 below)
* Mike Montgomery, P (will elect to be Article XX-D free-agent if not claimed off waivers - see NOTE-1 below))
* Randy Rosario, P (will be out of minor league options in 2020 - see NOTE-2 below)  
Addison Russell, INF (will elect to be Article XX-D free-agent if not claimed off waivers - see NOTE-1 below)   
Duane Underwood Jr, RHP (will be out of minor league options in 2020 - see NOTE-2 below)
NOTE-1: While the Cubs would prefer to trade both Russell and Montgomery prior to placing them on Outright Assignment Waivers, one way or another both will not be with the Cubs in 2020. 
NOTE-2: If not claimed off waivers and if outrighted to the minors, Mills, Rosario, and Underwood will be minor league 6YFA at 5 PM Eastern on 5th day after final game of World Series, but Cubs will very likely attempt to re-sign them to 2020 minor league contracts (for MLB money and an NRI to Spring Training) after they become minor league free-agents (again, that's presuming player is not claimed off waivers). It's also possible that Mills and/or Underwood could be removed from the 40 prior to the conclusion of the MLB regular season if addtional roster slots are needed in September. 

* Daniel Descalso, INF (could happen at any time during or after 2019 season if 40-man roster slot is needed, but no later than 11/20).  

Taylor Davis, C-1B  
Allen Webster, P (is out of minor league options) 
NOTE: Cubs will attempt (hope) to re-sign T. Davis and Webster to 2020 minor league contracts (for MLB money & NRI to Spring Training) after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, the idea of the non-tender being to remove the player from the MLB 40-man roster without taking the chance that the player could be claimed off waivers, and then signing him after (rather than before) the Rule 5 Draft so that he won't be selected in the Rule 5 Draft after signing a 2020 minor league contract. (The Cubs were able to select RHRP Hector Rondon in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft only because the Cleveland Indians signed him to a 2013 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft instead of waiting to sign him to a minor league contract until after the draft).   

Brad Brach, P (will be released only if 40-man roster slot is needed for another player, otherwise will remain on 40 going into Spring Training). 


Keep in mind that under the new 2019 waiver rules, a player claimed off Outright Assignment Waivers during the off-season (beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season and extending up until the first day of Spring Training) cannot be placed back on waivers again for at least seven days, so off-season waiver claiming "shenanigans" might be cut back a bit this coming off-season. (Players claimed off waivers during the season -- beginning on the first day of Spring Training and extending through the last day of the MLB regular season -- cannot be placed back on waivers again for at least 72 hours or until the player has spent at least one day on the claiming club's 25-man active roster, whichever comes first).  

I say "as things stand right now" because the Cubs just - MIGHT - make a trade or two prior to mid-December. 

I project Colin Rea to directly replace Alec Mills on the 40 because they are comparable pitchers (legit AAA SP), but Rea has two minor league options left and Mills will be out of minor league options in 2020, making Rea more-valuable as a Chicago - Des Moines shuttle rider in 2020 than Mills.  

The problem with adding Danny Hultzen to the 40 is that Hultzen is out of minor league options - AND - because he has been outrighteed to the minors previously in his career he has the right to elect free-agency if he were to be outrighted after being added to the 40, but the Cubs have spent two seasons nursing Hultzen through his rehab and I just don't think they want to watch him walk away as a minor league 6YFA post-2019 without at least first getting a look at him in MLB Spring Training in 2020.  

It is possible that the Cubs would let Hultzen walk away as a minor league 6YFA free-agent after the World Series and then (hopefully) re-sign him to a pre-arranged 2020 minor league deal (for MLB money and an NRI to Spring Training) after the Rule 5 Draft (a variation on the non-tender process), but it's about six weeks between the end of the World Series and the Rule 5 Draft, and that might be a bit too long to wait given that Hultzen is under no obligation to re-sign with the Cubs once he becomes a minor league FA. (The Cubs would not want to re-sign Hultzen to a minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft because he would be a virtual lock to get selected).  

But what the Cubs could do is add Hultzen to the 40 after the World Series (prior to him becoming a minor league FA) and then non-tender him on 12/2 and re-sign him to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft (the Rule 5 Draft is only about two weeks after the MLB contract tender date), just as I project they will do with Allen Webster (although unlike Hultzen, Webster is already on the 40).   

Speaking of Allen Webster, his minor league rehab assignment must end no later than July 31 (that's the 30th day of the assignment), so if there isn't room for him on the MLB 25-man roster when his rehab assignment concludes (he is out of minor league options so he can't be optioned to the minors, and right now he looks to be the 9th man in an eight-man bullpen), the Cubs might look to trade Webster prior to the 4 PM Eastern 7/31 deadline -- possibly for ISBP space(?) -- rather than risk losing him off waivers.


Jacob Resnick‏ @Jacob_Resnick

Yeah the Home Run Derby is cool, but nothing is more electric than the Korean bunting contest.

Nico Hoerner played CF in today's Tennessee game and led off. That's news to me! Anyone hear if he'll get more time out there or if it was a one and done?

a revolving SS/2nd/CF would do just fine.  i could learn to live with that.

Definitely not a bad a idea with Javy repeating his offensive numbers, Bote showing he's roughly a league average player right now, Almora floundering a bit offensively, and Happ not doing much to inspire hope. I guess we'll have to wait and see how the OF defense shakes out. Who are the defensive success stories of IF to OF conversions? Zobrist, Hamilton, and Adam Jones come to mind for now. But I can think of more failures than successes.

Mookie Betts, Nick Senzel, Ian Desmond, BJ Upton, Alfonso Soriano. To varying degrees of success, but those guys mostly transitioned at the MLB level. I imagine a lot more guys have successfully made the switch in the minors, as lots of players are drafted as SS but don’t stick there.  

bj upton was one of the worst minor league SS i've ever seen in my life.  i have no idea how he made it all the way to AAA still playing SS.

Pretty sure Upton spent a year or two in the majors at SS/2B (though he wasn’t great there).  You might be thinking of Justin Upton?

im positive it was bj upton.  he was part of a "very memorable" young crew of kids in AAA along with delmon young and elijah dukes.  bj managed to not get in trouble with them, though.  it was quite the off-field newsworthy team along with the on-field craziness they got into (throwing bats, threatening umps/coaches/fans, etc).

in the majors he did hop around SS/2nd/3rd a little bit for a few years, but not much.  bj played 16 major league games at SS and he made 7 errors doing it.

These are good! I disagree about Soriano, and I'm unsure about Desmond. but Upton and Betts are for sure prominent success stories. I had completely forgotten that Betts didn't start out in the OF. Gonna wait and see on Senzel.

My impression with Happ and Schwarber, and before them Soriano and Javy in his very few OF appearances, has been that these guys can't seem to make up for the repetitions that allow players to be good defensive outfielders. But there's a lot of recency bias in that judgment.

it's weird cuz happ looked really good in CF last year, and he got a decent amount of time out there.

this year he looked like he's never done it.

schwarber in LF...great dude, but he's DH/1st bound for someone at some at some point before too long.  even at his best he's barely average.

Alex Gordon is another in the success column, although he didn’t play CF. 

Robin Young moving from SS to CF (after he was already an established MLB SS) was probably one the more-successful ones.

Shawon Dunston Sr moved from SS to CF late in his career, but a lot of people thought that Dunston should have been a CF from the start. With his speed, arm, and ability to track fly balls, he could have been a Gold Glove-caliber CF. 

I wonder if the successful transition is more a function of the organization than the player. Obviously, these guys are all gifted athletes, but what was the support in teaching the OF, correct defensive positioning, etc.?  I recall the positioning issue having a big impact on Dexter Fowler's actual/perceived effectiveness. And I seem to remember a story about Soriano where after a number of years in the OF for the Cubs, somebody realized that nobody ever taught him how to play outfield (hyperbole on my part, but that was the gist). When WASH had Soriano for a year, did somebody just think "oh that guy is fast & can cover enough ground in LF. Let's stick him out there."?

FirstPitch.120: It was Dave McKay (hired as Cubs 1st base coach & outfield instructor in 2012) who helped improve Soriano's defense in LF. 

Not sure what Soriano has to do with the question of who can play the outfield. He never played an inning at shortstop, probably for the good of baseball. Anybody can play left field or first base. Adam Dunn played both positions. The next least vital fielding position is second base. That's where Dan Uggla played. Daniel Murphy has been "comfortable" there, in a manner of speaking.  Soriano played second and left, which is all one needs to know about him as a defender.

Bote seems to be able to play any infield position. He's beaten the odds and become a real major leaguer. Happ, on the other hand, is a left fielder, although he's better than average there and can squeak by occasionally in center and at second.

I love Almora gliding around the outfield, but he's been a major disappointment. His OBP is .286. (Descalso's is .285.) Almora could have turned this season around for the Cubs by becoming a useful hitter. They lost 91 games in 2011 so they could draft him #6. 

So yeah, put Hoerner in center and bat him first. As a shortstop, he's probably a better outfielder than Happ or Zagunis, although both of those could help the team as well, because they get on base. Unlike Almora, they don't like to swing at breaking balls in the dirt.

Happ swings at plenty of balls in the dirt. Swings through a hell of a lot of pitches in the zone too.

This isn’t a defense of Almora by the way. Never been a fan ever since we drafted him. He’s an excellent defender. But so is Connor Myers. I don’t know if Connor is even gonna sniff AAA.

Sure, I can remember Happ swinging at bad pitches and swinging through strikes. But that's a bit anecdotal, if you'll pardon the expression. When your OBP is 100 points higher than your BA, you're trying to be selective and trying to draw walks, and mostly succeeding.

Happ's BA/OBP in minors: .265/.361

Majors: .242/.341

Point taken on his ability to take pitches as well, but I mean... a 242 BA isn’t what I’d call good. It’s a bit below average. The 341 OBP is about average too. His strikeout rate is still quite high regardless of either number, so the majority of outs he is making are unhelpful.

I guess you exclude Soriano from the conversation if you decide to exclude infielders who were not already good defensively (in which case you exclude Happ, Schwarber, BJ Upton, and the vast majority of shorstops who have transitioned to the outfield) or if you want to limit it to just shortstops. Not every scout seems convinced that Hoerner would stick at SS, so including former 2Bs in the mix makes sense to me.

I realize he had a poor reputation and looked silly when he hopped, but advanced metrics loved Soriano’s OF defense some years, less so in others. He had a lot of leg injuries which I think hobbled him and then he got better again when Theo’s regime took over. 

"Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald reports teams have "reached out" to the Marlins about trading for Starlin Castro. "

he's owed like 5-6m for the rest of the season and slashing .245/.272/.336

teams.  plural.

I have mentioned this here before, but keep in mind that Ben Zobrist must be reinstated from the Restricted List prior to midnight on 8/31 in order to be eligible to play in the post-season. So even if he has not rejoined the club, the Cubs might reinstate Zobrist prior to midnight on 8/31 just to keep him eligible to play in the post-season, but if they do that, he must be paid, and that will cost the Cubs about $2M. So the Cubs really need to know what Zobrist's plans are by 8/31. 

And if the Cubs do reinstate Zobrist from the Restricted List on 8/31, Daniel Descalso is the most-likely candidate to get removed from the 40 to make room for Zobrist (presuming Descalso hasn't already been removed from the 40 by that point in time). 

AZ Phil, your writeup here suggests a player on the restricted list in Zobrist’s situation cannot be reinstated between August 1 and October 31. Does Zobrist actually have to be reinstated this month to play at all the rest of the season?

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  • crunch 19 hours 39 min ago (view)


    it's not like i think he's something special, but if he had 5mph more on his stuff he'd probably be a top prospect in the system combined with his command/control.  he's got highly repeatable junk and he's still young enough there might be a little more velocity to discover.


  • Arizona Phil 22 hours 54 min ago (view)

    CRUNCH: As long as Carrera is placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 he should be safe from selection, and I would say he is in fact close to a lock to be placed on the Iowa roster.

    Presuming he is on the Iowa reserve list going into the Rule 5 Draft, I doubt very much that he would get selected in the Major League Phase because he hasn't pitched above Lo-A. 


  • crunch 23 hours 4 min ago (view)

    nice info...

    i'm low-key keeping an eye on faustino carrera if he's not protected...which he may not be protected.

    he throws junk, but he throws it well, and with great control.


  • Arizona Phil 23 hours 23 min ago (view)

    I've talked to Player Development people over the past many years about the Rule 5 Draft and how an organization goes about deciding whether to protect or not protect a player from selection. 

    STEP 1: How many of your Rule 5 Draft-eligible players are actually legit candidates to get selected in the Major League Phase?. Usually there a dozen or more who could conceivably/realisticaly get selected. You need to identify them and then carefully evaluate them. 
    EXAMPLES: See my lists above. 


  • crunch 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    "There are no untouchables," Epstein said.

    In truth, the Cubs boss has said the same every year, but it certainly sounds like he means it this time. "We're in the 'information collecting' stages of the process," one general manager put it on Tuesday.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    I think, in relation to the higher profile guys like Javy or Contreras, they're trying to put some pressure on to sign extensions.

    That said I do think they're listening on everyone with the only name I haven't seen being Rizzo.


  • crunch 2 days 20 hours ago (view)

    i wonder where the cubs will go with things.

    there's a lot pointing to the cubs being expected to listen to offers on almost anyone.  as it is, on paper, the cubs could roll right into 2020 with no changes whatsoever and still field a very competitive team.  the whole "shakeup" thing seems to be a very hot topic from a variety of sources, though.

    bryant, contreras, schwarber have all been linked to "cubs may be listening" rumors...probably listening to anything on happ, bote, almora, russell, too...


  • Hagsag 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    Even the Cubs should be able to out bid the Marlins!


  • crunch 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    "According to Joe Frisaro of, the Marlins are "believed" to have interest in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos."

    by interest, i assume they mean they'd like to have some baseball rookie cards or his or maybe a hug from him.  i can't imagine they actually want to spend money on someone they could use to make their team better because that makes no sense.


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Prior to joining the Cubs in 2012 Scott Harris was Director of Baseball Operations in the MLB office, which means he received, reviewed, and approved all major league and minor league contracts and transactions, as well as providing MLB clubs with schedules, rules updates, and draft information. 


  • Cubster 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    Giants hire Scott Harris, from Cubs front office,  as GM


  • Charlie 4 days 23 hours ago (view)

    For anyone else who immediately wonders but is not invested enough to look it up, this is not Chris (Ryan) Young, former Padres starter and fisticuffs partner of Derrek Lee, but rather the two-years younger Chris Matthew Young.


  • crunch 5 days 11 hours ago (view)

    rev up those off-season rumor fryers...

    Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
    Multiple teams in search of catching help believe Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will be available this winter. The Cubs will get creative this winter, and with a deep catching free agent market, they could trade Contreras and begin retooling under new manager David Ross.


  • crunch 5 days 16 hours ago (view)

    former padres manager andy green is gonna be ross's bench coach.

    green was c.rea's manager in SD, btw.


  • Arizona Phil 5 days 22 hours ago (view)

    Last year the Cubs signed four free-agents to minor league contracts prior to the Rule 5 Draft: LHP Alberto Baldonado, OF Wynton Bernard, RHP Corey Black, and RHP Jose Rosario. All four were members of the Cubs organization in 2018 but declined to sign a 2019 minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent, but then came back to the Cubs after briefly testing the free-agent waters. 


  • crunch 6 days 2 hours ago (view)

    chris young to be named new bullpen coach (former phillies pitching coach)

    mixed messages on whether lester strode will have a new cubs role or leaving the cubs...