15 Cubs Declared Minor League Free-Agents

15 Cubs minor leaguers were declared MLB Rule 55 minor league free agents at 5 PM (Eastern) Monday 11/4.

CUBS 2019 MLB RULE 55 MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS:
Gioskar Amaya, INF 
Yasiel Balaguert, 1B-OF (served as a coach with AZL Cubs #1 in 2019)
Trevor Clifton, RHP 
Taylor Davis, C-1B 
Enrique de los Rios, RHP 
Phillip Evans, INF 
Johnny Field, OF  
Chih-Wei Hu, RHP 
Erick Leal, RHP 
Dixon Machado, INF  
Chris Pieters, OF (served as a coach with AZL Cubs #2 in 2019)
Will Remillard, C (served as a coach with AA Tennessee in 2019)
Manuel Rondon, LHP 
Allen Webster, RHP (was sent outright to AAA Iowa just prior to the 5 PM deadline)
Alex Wilson, RHP 

RHP Corey Black (who spent the 2019 season on the AA Tennessee 60-day Injured List after undergoing TJS for the second time in his career in April), OF Charcer Burks, OF Roberto Caro, C Erick Castillo, RHP Oscar de la Cruz, LHP Luke Hagerty (who spent the 2019 season on the Myrtle Beach 60-day Injured List after undergoing surgery to repair a torn left flexor tendon in April), LHP Luis Lugo, and C Jhonny Pereda were eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA, but each of them signed a 2020 minor league successor contract prior to being declared a 6YFA.
NOTE: All eight of these players will now be eligible for selection in next month's Rule 5 Draft, so it is possible that one or more could be added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) when minor league reserve lists are established on 11/20 in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. 

LHP Danny Hultzen and RHP Colin Rea were eligible to be Rule 55 minor league 6YFA post-2019, but Hultzen's contract was selected and he was added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) in September, and Rea had his contract selected and was added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster Monday afternoon (just prior to the 5 PM Eastern deadline).

A club receives no compensation for losing a minor league free-agent.

A minor league free-agent can sign a major league or minor league contract with any club (including the player's former club) without any restrictions, so it's possible that one or more of the Cubs minor league free-agents will eventually re-sign with the Cubs at some point during the off-season, although the club's offer going forward will certainly be less than what the player was offered to sign a minor league successor contract (if a club is willing to increase its offer or even offer the same money after a player declines to sign a successor contract, nobody would ever sign one).  

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MLB RULE 55: An unsigned minor league player is automatically declared a free-agent at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series (the deadline is 5 PM Eastern on October 15th if the World Series is canceled) if the player has spent all or any part of at least seven separate seasons on a minor league roster (including all or parts of any season spent on Optional Assignment to the minors and/or on a minor league disabled list) and/or if the player has been previously released or non-tendered in his career and his present contract (known as a "second contract" even if it's his third or fourth minor league contract) has expired. 

For purposes of determining eligibility to be a minor league free-agent where spending seven separate seasons on a minor league roster is required, a player does not accrue a minor league season if the player spends the entire season on an MLB Active List, MLB Disabled List(s), and/or other MLB Inactive List, or if the player spends an entire season on the Restricted List, Disqualified List, Suspended List, Ineligible List, Voluntarily Retired List, and/or Military List. Also, participation in a post-season instructional league or winter league and/or the Arizona Fall League (AFL) does not count toward a minor league season if the player otherwise did not accrue a minor league season that year. 

Note that a player who ordinarily would have been declared a Rule 55 minor league free-agent is NOT eligible to be a free-agent if the player is either added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or agrees to a minor league successor contract prior to 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series.

Comments

So the Cubs were ultimately able to retain five of their seven most-valuable post-2019 minor league free-agent eligibles (Rea, Pereda, de la Cruz, Lugo, and Burks), losing only Clifton and Leal (both of whom are probably looking for a fresh start in another organization after maybe feeling stalled in the Cubs system).

But again, all eight of the players who signed 2020 minor league successor contracts are now eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, so (for example) Pereda or de la Cruz (or even Lugo) could still be added to the 40 by the 11/20 deadline if the Cubs are worried that they might lose them in the Rule 5 Draft (the Cubs will probably add five players to the 40 on 11/20, with M. Amaya a lock to get added, Higgins very likely, and T. Miller likely, and then two more from amongst Pereda, de la Cruz, Z. Short, Giambrone, Minch, Swarmer, Mekkes, and maybe Lugo. 

Otherwise, it's not unusual or especially unexpected for MLB-ready 4-A type minor league free-agents like T. Davis, Evans, Field, Hu, Machado, Webster, and Wilson to test the free-agent market, and three others (Balaguert, Pieters, and Remillard) served as coaches in 2019 while still signed to minor league player contracts and so they are unlikely to play in 2020.  

If you're wondering if players who sign minor league successor contracts ever get taken in the Rule 5 Draft, the answer is most definitely - YES -. 

The Cubs selected RHP Hector Rondon in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft after the Indians signed him to a minor league successor contract, and the Baltimore Orioles selected RHP Pedro Araujo in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft after the Cubs signed him to a minor league successor contract. 

And in 2015, the Cubs signed C Willson Contreras to a minor league successor contract to keep him from walking away as a minor league 6YFA and then added him to the MLB 40-man roster on 11/20 so that he could not be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, and a year later (in 2016) the Cubs signed LHRP Jack Leathersich to a minor league successor contract to keep him from becoming a minor league second contract free-agent, and then added him to their MLB 40-man roster on 11/18 to protect him from selection in the Rule 5 Draft. 

Keep in mind that most free-agents who sign a 2020 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft are eligible for selection. (The only exception would be a free-agent who is not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, such as a player whose only previous pro experience was in a foreign major league or in an independent minor league, or a player who was released by another MLB organization but is still not yet eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft).  

In November 2006 the Cubs signed veteran utility INF Jason Smith to a minor league contract (with an NRI to Spring Training), but then ended up losing him to the Toronto Blue Jays a month later in the Rule 5 Draft.  

So while it doesn't happen very often, it's not automatic that just because a player was a free-agent that he won't get taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

Sometimes a club likes a particular free-agent but gets outbid by another organization or maybe the player just wants to play for a certain organization and takes a "hometown discount" to go there, and the only way the club that got outbid can get the player is by selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft. 

That's why it's important to try and wait until after the Rule 5 Draft to sign a free-agent to a minor league contract (unless you don't care if you lose him). But by waiting until aftet the Rule 5 Draft to sign a free-agent to a minor league contract a club takes a chance that the player will sign elsewhere in the meantime.

And while a club has up to 15 days to file a contract with the MLB office, a club can't delay filing the contract in order to protect the player from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, because a minor league contract that was signed prior to the Rule 5 Draft but has not yet been officially filed with the MLB office must be reported as a "contract pending" and the player is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft even though the contract has not yet been officially filed with the MLB office.

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. 

But the Cubs waited until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft to sign RHP Colin Rea, INF Ryan Court, INF Phillip Evans, 1B-OF Jim Adduci, RHP Matt Carasiti, RHP Carlos Ramirez, C Francisco Arcia, OF Zach Borenstein, OF Evan Marzilli, RHP Rob Scahill, RHP Christian Bergman, RHP George Kontos, and RHP Junichi Tazawa to 2019 minor league contracts, thereby insuring that they could not be selected in the Rule 5 Draft.  

In addition, RHP Allen Webster was non-tendered prior to the Rule 5 Draft and then he re-signed with the Cubs (2019 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training) - AFTER - the Rule 5 Draft. What the Cubs did with Webster last year is a textbook example of what MLB clubs prefer to do (if feasible) during the off-season. That is, remove a player from the MLB 40-man roster without exposing the player to waivers (and that's done by not tendering the player an MLB contract on the contract tender date), and then waiting until after the Rule 5 Draft to sign the player to a minor league contract. 

But the Cubs did something with Allen Webster this time that they really did not need to do. Instead of waiting until 12/2 and then non-tender him, they sent Webster outright to AAA Iowa just prior to the 5 PM (Eastern) deadline last Monday, taking a chance that he might get claimed off waivers and insuring that he would be declared a minor league free-agent at the end of the day. 

See, Webster did - NOT - have the right to elect free-agency when he was outrighted (he has been non-tendered previously in his career but he had not previously been outrighted to the minors and he has not yet accrued three years of MLB Service Time, so therefore he did - NOT - have the the right to elect free-agency when he was outrighted on Monday), but because he has spent all or parts of at least seven seasons in the minors he was automatically declared a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA at 5 PM Eastern last Monday. 

A player who has Rule 55 rights (like Webster and most of the other players who were outrighted to the minors last Monday) cannot be sent outright to the minors after 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series unless and until the player has signed a contract for the next season (and players on the 40 cannot have their contract automatically renewed until March 1st), so if the Cubs wanted to outright Webster to the minors they needed to do so prior to the 5 PM deadline. It's just that they could have waited until December 2nd (the day contracts are tendered) and then just non-tender him (like they did last year).

There are eight slots presently open on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster, and it's hard to imagine the Cubs needing all eight slots prior to 12/2 (the Cubs are likely to add five --- maybe six -- Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to the 40 on 11/20, but that still leaves two or three slots open with more slots becoming available via non-tenders on 12/2).  

So why did the Cubs outright Webster (when they didn't really need his slot on the 40) instead of just waiting until 12/2 and then non-tender him? The most obvious answer is that the Cubs were actually hoping that Webster would get claimed off waivers and they could pick up an extra $50,000 (the waiver price) that they could then use to claim another (different) player off waivers (like RHSP Trevor Oaks, who ended up getting claimed by SF on Tuesday). And the idea that they might be able to claim Oaks could be one of the reasons they felt comfortable declining Kendall Graveman's 2020 option ($3M plus performance bonuses). 

Got to get Taylor Davis back.

t.clifton straight up falling off a cliff sucked to watch happen last year.

i had a lot of faith in the guy to at least hold his own in AAA, even if he needed another season or 2 after to get ready for prime time.

he ended up giving out homers like candy on halloween while retaining his high walk and injury rate.

that said, his career is far from done.  most likely many other teams willing to give him a minor league deal.

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...

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.

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

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

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.

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

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. 

His primary job as MLB Director of Baseball Operations was to know the MLB rules and the CBA backwards & forwards and answer rules questions from MLB clubs and quickly note any transaction mistake and/or contract error that might occur. Kind of like the Parliamentarian in the U. S. House of Representatives. 

He performed essentially the same duties as Assistant GM of the Cubs, providing Epstein-Hoyer information, analysis, and advice concerning the current contract and roster status of all players in the majors and the minors (not just Cubs players, but players from all 30 clubs), especially as it related to potential trades, waiver claims, and free-agent signings.  

He is a really sharp guy. 

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  • crunch 1 hour 34 min ago (view)

    top 9th, 1 out, men on 1st/2nd...alec mills steps to the plate.

    they're down by 13 runs.  i want to end this, too.

     

  • Wrigley Rat 2 hours 41 min ago (view)

    Really good stuff here from Marty Pevey (Iowa Cubs Manager, Acting Manager of South Bend): https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/bas...

     

  • Eric S 3 hours 30 min ago (view)

    If Chatwood can provide two excellent starts for each turkey I can live with that

     

  • crunch 3 hours 36 min ago (view)

    i dont like august 6th, 2020 chatwood.

    i've liked other recent versions, though.

     

  • Arizona Phil 3 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Without an actual minor league season to use for evaluation purposes, I think the likely Cubs 40-man roster adds on 11/20 will be from this group and probably in this order (and no more than seven, possibly eight): 

     

  • crunch 3 hours 56 min ago (view)

    this digital crowd is creepy as hell.  at least it's not for the whole game.

     

  • Arizona Phil 7 hours 3 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed veteran RHRP Kelvin Herrera to a minor league contract and he has been added to the Cubs MLB Club Player Pool and has been assigned to the Cubs Practice Squad in South Bend.  

    Herrera was released by the White Sox last Sunday, so he should be ready to roll right away if he is needed. 

     

  • bradsbeard 8 hours 11 min ago (view)

    Tommy Birch with the Des Moines Register just interviewed Martin Peavy about what's going on at South Bend. Some intriguing updates on some of the prospects down there as well as details about what they are doing. They could really use Short for scrimmage purposes  

     

  • Eric S 9 hours 24 min ago (view)

    Thanks, AZ Phil!

     

  • Arizona Phil 9 hours 57 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: I doubt that any club will go below 14 pitchers (with at least nine relievers), and the Cubs could go up to 15 (or 16) pitchers once Jose Quintana (and Brad Wieck) return, especially if the Cubs eventually go with a six-man rotation (as I suspect they will, given the heavy work-load the SP will need to provide what with the questionable bullpen).

     

  • bradsbeard 10 hours 3 min ago (view)

    Interesting. That's good to know for roster construction purposes. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 10 hours 22 min ago (view)

    ERIC S: Other than assigning one catcher (who can serve as a bullpen catcher) to the Taxi Squad at home game, the Taxi Squad can only be used on road trips  

    On the Cubs trip to Cincinnati last week, the Cubs definitely carried catcher Jose Lobaton, INF-OF Hernan Perez, and an unnamed pitcher (probably Colin Rea, because he was recalled while the Cubs were still in Cincinnati).

     

  • Arizona Phil 11 hours 21 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARDE: The limit on the number of pitchers who can be on a club's MLB Active List roster (which was going to be 13 on a 26-man roster if CoViD-19 hadn't happened) has been suspended and so clubs can carry as many pitcherrs as they wish in 2020. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 11 hours 24 min ago (view)

    The thing with Zack Short not being assigned to the Cubs MLB Club Player Pool (and to the Practice Squad) is odd, because he would have been one of only two legit MLB-ready (or near MLB-ready) shortstops on the Practice Squad (utility man Hernan Perez being the other one). So now al they have is H. Perez.  

    It can't be because of roster limit concerns because they could have left off Christopher Morel or ine of the younger pitchers to make room for Z. Short. 

     

  • bradsbeard 11 hours 29 min ago (view)

    Not Phil and I don't know what the South Bend guys are doing besides scrimaging or live BP. But I do know Short is not there (I'm still not sure why he's not there other than trying not to use up all the roster space available).

     

  • bradsbeard 11 hours 30 min ago (view)

    Is there a limit on number of pitchers that you know of? The Cubs dropped down to 14 with the Steele and Brothers options, and I'm wondering if that is the max they can carry going forward.