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?

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Hagsag 40 min 44 sec ago (view)

    Thom? NFW!


  • crunch 10 hours 54 min ago (view)

    it probably had nothing to do with len leaving, but Marquee can get rid of that "we're all wearing suits and we're classy as hell" look.

    i loved len and bob...len and jd i was only warming up to in the past couple years.  either way, gonna miss len.


  • crunch 10 hours 59 min ago (view)

    *laura ricketts has entered the chat*


  • crunch 11 hours 35 sec ago (view)

    the claim is he "really wants to do radio" and "totally nothing wrong with Marquee"...etc etc

    but yeah...the team is having a hell of an offseason having theo walk away with a year left on his deal, semi-embarrassingly trying to find a taker for bryant, deciding to not keep schwarber, and now the long-time cubs pbp TV guy leaves for a radio gig across town.

    all of this and the cubs are yet to be linked to any FA discussions...or names for a GM hunt...or a pool of teams actually interested in bryant...or anything resembling a 2021 plan so far...


  • Eric S 11 hours 2 min ago (view)

    Thom Brennaman - a longtime Cub fan favorite - would fit Marquee to a T 🤣


  • Charlie 11 hours 6 min ago (view)

    My appreciation of Len has waned since 2016. But he and JD have been my favorite Cubs broadcast crew in the ~25 years I've paid close attention.

    I wasn't thrilled about the few changes that came along with Marquee this year.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 20 hours 39 min ago (view)

    I believe this is the correct take. It's surprising that Len is leaving. He's good, but he had gotten a little too rationalizey over the past few years for me.

    However, it seemed he was heavily invested in the Cubs. His departure feels like there is some Ricketts-ish bullshit going on behind the scenes at Marquee that Len wants no part of. Anyway, I wish him well with the other Chicago team


  • crunch 21 hours 16 min ago (view)


    is everything the ricketts touch just falling to shit in 2021?  ....well, except their heavy investments in taking over the state of Nebraska politically with one of the sons and heavy investment in supportive state legislators...


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 22 hours 46 min ago (view)

    This makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks Phil!

    (And that HR off Hader was unforgettable)


  • Hagsag 1 day 1 hour ago (view)



  • Wrigley Rat 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs for the White Sox radio booth.


  • Charlie 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?). 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 19 hours 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 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    really appreciate the years and years of your updates


  • Arizona Phil 2 days 6 hours 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.