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 8 hours 36 min ago (view)

    MLB is very much swinging their power over minor league teams around.

     

  • tim815 9 hours 5 min ago (view)

    Normally, it's because the minor fee they receive is of more value than they think they will be able to acquire later.

     

  • JustSayin' 10 hours 8 min ago (view)

    My, the negotiations for a new comprehensive agreement between MLB and MiLB are sounding nasty all of a sudden!  I'd be interested in other takes on this.  It's easy to see the risks on the MiLB side.  I wonder though, if MLB isn't playing with fire as far as the antitrust exemption goes?  In case Trump isn't president in January, 2021, the MLB owners lose a friend.  We've already heard from Sanders and Warren supporting MiLB on this -- which is pretty amazing, considering how many bigger problems this country has -- and one can guess where mayor Pete stands.

     

  • bradsbeard 16 hours 34 min ago (view)

    I'm also thinking they really didn't anticipate losing two players in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 and wanted to have more flexibility to pick guys, and they maybe figured Carrera had a better shot to go unpicked. It is a little surprising that the talent rich Rays are the ones who grabbed him. 

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 17 hours 26 min ago (view)

    It's just strange because they had space. maybe they thought no one would have wanted him?

     

  • bradsbeard 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    Best I can think is that maybe he was going to be squeezed out of a starting role next year with 2019 draftees and other lower level pitching pushing up into A ball. Doesn't seem like a great reason, but the pitching in the system is getting more crowded each year.

     

  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    i truly wonder why f.carrera wasn't more of a priority.

    he throws straight up junk, but he's got great control and command over his pitchers.  he's young enough that he could find some more velocity, too.

    i mean, this is a management team that decided to trade for dan haren and kyle hendricks.  they don't have an aversion to slow-tossing starters.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 10 hours ago (view)

    Has anyone else noticed James Norwood's picture on the Cubs top 30 prospects page is actually Brandon Kintzler?

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    It's always interesting to see how many players each MLB club protects on its AAA affiliate's 38-man reserve list on 11/20.

    I'm not saying it absolutely and necessarily proves what a club thinks of its own prospects, but there are 38 slots available on a AAA reserve list, and if you leave 15 slots open, I think that does say something, especially when you don't lose anybody in either the MLB Phase or in the AAA Phase. (I'm looking at you, Seattle Mariners!) 

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    HAGSAG: Instructs starts next month. The pitching lab operates year round, so guys are always coming & going. 

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    Phil, when does the Instructional program begin? Are there pitchers in the pitching lab now?

     

  • cubbies.4ever 2 days 2 hours ago (view)

    Just to continue my conspiracy theory that Theo has a requirement you have TJS to pitch for the Cubs Trevor Megill had it in 2013.  The Cubs must have a support group for pitchers who have had TJS.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    After losing two players off the Iowa reserve list in the Major League Phase and selecting four players in the AAA Phase, the Iowa reserve list has one slot open, so now would be an excellent time to try and outright C. D. Pelham to AAA.

    Keep in mind that he can't elect free-agency if he's outrighted, and if he is outrighted, he won't be a minor league free-agent until post-2021.

    And if he gets claimed off waivers? No big deal.  

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    LHSP Faustino Carrera and 2B Carlos Sepulveda were among the first players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico in 2014-15. The Cubs ended up signing more than two dozen more Mexican players over the next three years. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Vimael Machin can play anywhere in the infield & outfield, but he also went through the catcher conversion program at post-2015 Instructs so he can even catch in a pinch, too. He could be a very useful 26th man.

    Machin is bi-lingual (he is from Puerto Rico and went to college at Old Dominion), and was projected by the Cubs as a future coach or manager. He's a savvy & astute baseball guy. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 4 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Every year the Cubs convert two or three position players to pitcher (it was Galazin, Hughes, and Zardon in 2019), so it's very possible that Suiter will be given a chance to pitch.