Cubs Post-2019 Off-Season Roster Prep

11/20 UPDATE:

The Cubs have selected the contracts of RHSP Tyson Miller and SS Zack Short from AAA Iowa and RHRP Manuel Rodriguez and C Miguel Amaya from Hi-A Myrtle Beach, and all four have been added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster).  

So with the four additions, the Cubs MLB 40-man roster now stands at 36 (four slots are open). 

The next date of note is December 2nd (MLB Contract Tender Deadline).  



With twelve Cubs (RHP Tony Barnette, OF Nicholas Castellanos, LHP Xavier Cedeno, RHP Steve Cishek, LHP Cole Hamels, LHP Derek Holland, RHP Brandon Kintzler, C Jonathan Lucroy, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP David Phelps, RHP Pedro Strop, and INF-OF Ben Zobrist) having been declared MLB Article XX-B free-agents, another (RHP Kendall Graveman) declared a second-contract MLB free-agent, and 15 Cubs minor leaguers (INF Gioskar Amaya, 1B-OF Yasiel Balaguert, RHP Trevor Clifton, C-1B Taylor Davis, RHP Enrique de los Rios, INF Phillip Evans, OF Johnny Field, RHP Chih-Wei Hu, RHP Erick Leal, INF Dixon Machado, OF Chris Pieters, C Will Remillard, LHP Manuel Rondon, RHP Allen Webster, and RHP Alex Wilson) declared Rule 55 minor league 6YFA over the past ten days or so, the Cubs next order of business is sorting out their minor league reserve lists and deciding whether to add any Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to their MLB 40-man roster.

At present there are eight slots open on the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), so as things stand right now (Sunday 11/10) the Cubs could add as many as eight Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to the 40 on or before the 11/20 deadline for setting off-season minor league rosters. And even though the Cubs will likely gain at least one additional open slot on the 40 (maybe more) on December 2nd when MLB contracts are tendered (or non-tendered), the Cubs will almost certainly want to leave at least two or preferably three 40-man roster slots open for possible MLB free-agent signings, trades, and waiver claims when off-season minor league reserve lists are filed with the MLB office on November 20th. So figure five or maybe six (max) Rule 5 Draft eligible players will be added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster on 11/20, but it could be significantly fewer if the Cubs make trades and/or waiver claims on 11/20 like they did last year.

Also keep in mind that any minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft who has his contract selected and is added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th has Draft-Excluded status, meaning the player cannot be sent to the minors (outrighted or optioned) any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, so a roster slot on the 40 that is allocated to a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player over the next ten days would effectively be locked and unavailable for the duration of the off-season and much of Spring Training. 

Last year the Cubs had just one slot open on their 40-man roster on 11/20, and they added just one Rule 5 Draft-eligible player (LHP Justin Steele) to the 40. Another Cubs 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible player (3B Jason Vosler) was traded to the San Diego Padres for RHRP Rowan Wick on 11/20. Wick was on the Padres 40-man roster so he required a slot on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster, and the Cubs also claimed LHP Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox that day. To make room for Wick and Clarkin on the 40, the Cubs sent LHRP Jerry Vasto and OF Johnny Field (both had been claimed off waivers after the World Series) outright to the minors on 11/20 and they tried to send INF Jack Reinheimer (who also had been claimed off waivers after the World Series) outright to the minors at that same time, but he was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, leaving the Cubs 40-man roster at 39 (one slot open) post-11/20.     

The Cubs subsequently lost Ian Clarkin off waivers (he was re-claimed by the White Sox on 11/26, although the Cubs claimed him off waivers again later in the off-season), signed minor league 6YFA LHRP Kyle Ryan to a 2019 MLB contract (and added him to the 40) and acquired INF Ronald Torreyes from the Yankees for a PTBNL on 11/28 (so the 40-man roster was now full), and traded INF Tommy LaStella to the Angels for a PTBNL on 11/29 (which left one 40-man roster slot open again), before non-tendering Torreyes, RHP Justin Hancock, and RHRP Allen Webster on 11/30 (the post-2018 contract tender date was moved up to 11/30 because 12/2 fell on a Sunday in 2018), which left the Cubs MLB 40-man roster at 36 going into the Winter Meetings. (Hancock subsequently signed a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, Torreyes signed an MLB contract with the Minnesota Twins less than a week after being non-tendered, and Webster re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal with an NRI to Spring Training after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft). 

During the course of the 2019 MLB regular season the Cubs added one player who was eligible for selection in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft (INF Robel Garcia) and five players who were eligible to be a post-2019 MLB minor league 6YFA (RHRP Allen Webster, 1B Jim Adduci, LHRP Tim Collins, OF Carlos Gonzalez, and LHP Danny Hultzen) to their MLB 40-man roster (Adduci was sent outright to AAA in June and then deferred his right to be a free-agent until after the conclusion of the 2019 MLB regular season, Collins and CarGo elected free-agency immediately after being outrighted, and Webster was sent outright to AAA Iowa last Monday and then was declared a Rule 55 minor league 6YFA later that day), and then they added another player who was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2019 (RHSP Colin Rea) to the 40 just prior to the 5 PM (Eastern) deadline last Monday.  
NOTE: The Cubs selected the contract of INF Nico Hoerner and he was added to the MLB 40-man roster in September, but he was not eligible for selection in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft (he wouldn't have been eligible until post-2021). 

As far as players who were eligible for selection in last year's Rule 5 Draft is concerned, the Cubs added RHRP James Norwood to the 40 during the course of the 2018 MLB regular season and LHSP Justin Steele to the 40 on 11/20. That's it. Just two. 

By comparison, during the course of the 2017 MLB regular season the Cubs added four players to the 40 (RHP Dylan Floro, RHRP Dillon Maples, RHSP Jen-Ho Tseng, and OF Mark Zagunis) who would have been eligible for selection in the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft, although Floro was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers. 
NOTE: INF-OF Ian Happ was also added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the 2017 season, but he would not have been eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft until post-2018. 

The Cubs then added three more post-2017 Rule 5 Draft-eligibles (RHSP Adbert Alzolay, INF David Bote, and RHSP Oscar de la Cruz) to the 40 on 11/20 of 2017, Bote after hitting a robust 333/395/536 for the Mesa Solar Sox in the post-season Arizona Fall League. (It's not unusual for the Cubs to assign a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to the Arizona Fall League, as the AFL is often used as a "proving ground" for pitchers and position-players who are under consideration for promotion to an MLB 40-man roster). 

So as things stand right now, 79 Cubs minor leaguers (including six second-contract minor league players and eight players eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2019 who signed a 2020 minor league successor contract) are eligible for selection in the December 2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft.

And as was mentioned above, the Cubs must decide by November 20th which (if any) of their 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible players (including the eight players who were eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2019 who signed a 2020 minor league successor contract) to add their MLB 40-man roster to keep the player from being eligible for selection in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft. 

The Cubs also must decide by November 20th whether to place a 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor league player who is not added to the MLB 40-man roster on 11/20 on their AAA Iowa reserve list or on the reserve list of an affiliate of a lower classification. At most 38 of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguers can be placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20. However, although the AAA Reserve List limit is 38, probably more like 35 of the Rule 5 Draft-eligible players will actually be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20, because slots need to be left open for players the Cubs might want to select in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, as well as for free-agents signed to minor league contracts or players outrighted to the minors after 11/20 but prior to the Rule 5 Draft. (Any Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who signs a 2020 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection). 

Any 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguer who is placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 will be eligible for selection in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft - ONLY - ($100,000 draft price with the possibility that the drafted player could be re-claimed later), and any 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguer not placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20 will be eligible for selection in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft ($24,000 draft price and no mechanism to reclaim a drafted player later).

The 79 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection (as of 11/10) in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft can be divided into four distinct classes of players: 

Miguel Amaya, C (virtual lock) 
P. J. Higgins, C-INF (likely) 
Tyson Miller, RHSP (likely) 
Zack Short, SS (on the bubble)
Jhonny Pereda, C (on the bubble) - signed 2020 minor league successor contract
Trent Giambrone, INF-OF (on the bubble) 
Jordan Minch, LHRP (on the bubble) 
Oscar de la Cruz, RHRP (on the bubble) - signed 2020 minor league successor contract
Dakota Mekkes, RHRP (on the bubble) 
Luis Lugo, LHRP (on the bubble) - signed 2020 minor league successor contract
NOTE: All ten of the players listed above are legit candidates to get selected in the Major League Phase of the 2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft if not added to the MLB 40-man roster by 11/20, but those who aren't added to the 40 will most definitely be assigned to the AAA Iowa reserve list so that they will be available only in the Major League Phase ($100,000 draft price and the possibility that if selected the player might be re-claimed later). Unfortunately there is no way to know for sure which (if any) of them might get selected if left off the 40, because all it takes is one club to like a player for that player to get selected. Even in baseball, de gustibus non est disputandum.   

Jose Albertos, RHSP 
Javier Assad, RHSP 
Craig Brooks, RHRP 
Faustino Carrera, LHSP 
Bailey Clark, RHRP
Zach Davis, OF 
Donnie Dewees, OF 
Bryan Hudson, LHSP 
Ryan Lawlor, LHRP 
Vimael Machin, INF 
Duncan Robinson, RHSP 
Michael Rucker, RHRP 
Wyatt Short, LHRP 
Matt Swarmer, RHSP  
Mark Zagunis, OF
Delvin Zinn, INF  
NOTE: While maybe one of the players in this second group of 2019 Rule 5 Draft-eligibles could get selected in the Major League Phase, all 16 would almost certainly be selected in the AAA Phase if not placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20, and the Cubs would very much prefer not to lose any of them, so all of them will need to be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list so that they will be available for selection in the Major League Phase only ($100,000 draft price with the potential to re-claim later).  

Charcer Burks, OF
Jesus Camargo, RHRP 
Erick Castillo, C 
Scott Effross, RHRP 
Wladimir Galindo, 3B-1B 
Zach Hedges, RHRP 
Chad Hockin, RHRP 
Conor Lillis-White, LHRP  
Eddy Julio Martinez, OF  
Fidel Mejia, INF 
Kevonte Mitchell, OF 
Erling Moreno, RHSP 
Connor Myers, OF  
Tommy Nance, RHRP 
Eury Ramos, RHSP 
Ian Rice, C-1B 
Manuel Rodriguez, RHRP 
Carlos Sepulveda, 2B 
Jake Stinnett, RHRP 
Alexander Vargas, RHSP 
Jerry Vasto, LHRP  
D. J. Wilson, OF 
NOTE: Like the players in the second group of 2019 Rule 5 Draft eligibles, the 22 players in this third group would have a good chance to get selected in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft if not added to the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20. So the Cubs will have to decide which are the most valuable ones and then place as many of them as is feasible on the AAA Iowa reserve list so that they will be available for selection in the Major League Phase only (and given roster limits, that probably would mean no more than 15 of the 22 will be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list).  

Jhonny Bethencourt, INF
Corey Black, RHRP 
Casey Bloomquist, RHRP 
Andres Bonalde, LHSP 
Roberto Caro, OF
Alfredo Colorado, RHRP  
Yovanny Cuevas, OF 
Marcos Encarnacion, RHRP (on Restricted List while serving PED suspension)
Emilio Ferrebus, RHRP 
Eric Gonzalez, C 
Julio Guante, RHRP 
Fauris Guerrero, RHRP 
Luke Hagerty, LHRP 
Ryan Kellogg, LHSP 
Garrett Kelly, RHRP 
Rafelin Lorenzo, C 
Marcus Mastrobuoni, C 
Ivan Medina, RHRP
M. T. Minacci, RHRP 
Rafael Narea, INF 
Richard Nunez, C-1B   
Eugenio Palma, LHRP
Tyler Payne, C  
Raymond Pena, C
Tyler Peyton, RHRP  
Gustavo Polanco, C 
Abraham Rodriguez, 1B-OF 
Aneuris Rosario, RHRP 
Willians Vasquez, RHRP 
Omar Ventura, RHRP 
Danny Zardon, RHRP (ex-C-INF)
NOTE: All 31 of the players in this fourth and final group of 2019 Rule 5 Draft eligibles should be available for selection in the AAA Phase ($24,000 draft price with no mechanism to re-claim if the player is selected).  



The MLB Rule 5 Draft (officially known as the Rule 5 Selection Meeting) is held on the 2nd Thursday in December and is presently the last order of business at the MLB WINTER MEETINGS. It is a mechanism that allows MLB clubs to select (draft) players off minor league reserve lists.

There is a "Major League Phase" where an MLB club can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs (any minor league classification) for $100,000 ("Major League Phase" Rule 5 Draft price increased from $50,000 to $100,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft), and a "AAA Phase" where a club's AAA minor league affiliate can select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a lower classification (below AAA) for $24,000 (Rule 5 "AAA Phase" draft price increased from $12,000 to $24,000 beginning with the December 2016 draft). 
NOTE: Effective December 2016, the "AA Phase" (where a club's AA minor league affiliate could select Rule 5 Draft-eligible players off the reserve lists of minor league clubs of a classification below AA for $4,000) has been eliminated.

There is no limit on the number of rounds in each phase (there could be one, there could be three, there could be five or more). As long as at least one club is still selecting players, the phase will continue, but as soon as all 30 teams have a full reserve list (so that clubs can no longer make selections) or have passed, the phase is over.

There is no limit on the number of Rule 5 Draft-eligible players any one organization can lose in a Rule 5 Draft.



1. A minor league player who was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract is eligible for selection starting with the 5th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season, and a minor league player who was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract becomes eligible for selection starting with the 4th Rule 5 Draft following his first qualified season.

2. If a player signs his first contract after the conclusion of the season of the MLB or minor league club to which he is first assigned (even if he signs prior to the Rule 5 Draft), the next season is considered to be the player's "first qualified season" for Rule 5 eligibility purposes. (Depending on the minor league, the conclusion of a minor league club's season could be as early as the first week of August, or as late as the second week of September).

3. A player eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent who signs a minor league successor contract prior to being declared a free-agent and a free-agent with prior MLB and/or minor league service who signs a minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft is eligible for selection if the player was 18 or younger on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 5th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract, or the player was 19 years or older on the June 5th immediately prior to signing his first contract and it is at least the 4th Rule 5 Draft since he signed his first contract.

4. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has either been released or had his contract voided and then re-signs with the same MLB organization within one year is eligible for selection.

5. Any player on a minor league reserve list who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career is eligible for selection.

6. A player on the Voluntary Retired List, Disqualified List, or Ineligible List is not eligible for selection.

7. An MLB club can designate any player on a minor league reserve list "eligible for selection" in a Rule 5 Draft even if the player would not normally be eligible, but once a player is designated "eligible for selection," he remains eligible for selection in all subsequent Rule 5 drafts.
NOTE: A club might do this if the club is planning to release the player during the off-season. 

8. A minor league player-manager who would be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft if he was only a player can be selected, but if he is selected, the player-manager can reject the selection and retire. He has 30 days to decide. If he rejects the selection and opts to retire as a player, the player-manager is ineligible to be reinstated as a player for a minimum of one year.  

Jose Albertos, RHP 
Miguel Amaya, C 
Javier Assad, RHP 
Jhonny Bethencourt, INF 
Corey Black, RHP (signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Casey Bloomquist, RHP
Andres Bonalde, LHP  
Craig Brooks, RHP
Charcer Burks, OF (signed 2020 minor league successor contract) 
Jesus Camargo, RHP
Roberto Caro, OF (signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Faustino Carrera, LHP 
Erick Castillo, C (signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Bailey Clark, RHP
Alfredo Colorado, RHP
Yovanny Cuevas, OF 
Zach Davis, OF
Oscar de la Cruz, RHP (Article XX-D player - signed 2020 minor league successor contract) 
Donnie Dewees, OF
Scott Effross, RHP 
Marcos Encarnacion, RHP (second contract player previously released by CIN)
Emilio Ferrebus, RHP 
Wladimir Galindo, 3B-1B
Trent Giambrone, IF-OF
Eric Gonzalez, C 
Julio Guante, RHP (second-contract player previously released by DET)
Fauris Guerrero, RHP 
Luke Hagerty, LHP (Article XX-D player - signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Zach Hedges, RHP  
P. J. Higgins, C-INF
Chad Hockin, RHP 
Bryan Hudson, LHP  
Ryan Kellogg, LHP 
Garrett Kelly, RHP (second-contract player previously released by MIN)
Ryan Lawlor, LHP (second-contract player previously released by ATL) 
Conor Lillis-White, LHP 
Rafelin Lorenzo, C 
Luis Lugo, LHP (signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Vimael Machin, INF 
Eddy Julio Martinez, OF 
Marcus Mastrobuoni, C
Ivan Medina, RHP 
Fidel Mejia, INF 
Dakota Mekkes, RHP
Tyson Miller, RHP  
M. T. Minacci, RHP
Jordan Minch, LHP 
Kevonte Mitchell, OF
Erling Moreno, RHP
Connor Myers, OF 
Tommy Nance, RHP 
Rafael Narea, INF 
Richard Nunez, C-1B
Eugenio Palma, LHP  
Tyler Payne, C
Raymond Pena, C 
Jhonny Pereda, C (signed 2020 minor league successor contract)
Tyler Peyton, RHP
Gustavo Polanco, C-1B   
Eury Ramos, RHP 
Ian Rice, C-1B 
Duncan Robinson, RHP 
Abraham Rodriguez, OF-1B  
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP 
Aneuris Rosario, RHP 
Michael Rucker, RHP 
Carlos Sepulveda, INF
Wyatt Short, LHP 
Zack Short, INF  
Jake Stinnett, RHP
Matt Swarmer, RHP 
Alexander Vargas, RHP
Willians Vasquez, RHP (second-contract player previously released by ATL)
Jerry Vasto, LHP (Article XX-D player)
Omar Ventura, RHP  
D. J. Wilson, OF 
Mark Zagunis, OF (Article XX-D player)
Danny Zardon, RHP (ex-C-IB - second-contract player previously released by PHI)  
Delvin Zinn, INF 



1. A minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), traded to another organization, or transferred from one minor league reserve list to another within the same organization, starting with the filing of minor league reserve lists on November 20th (or November 19th if November 20th falls on a Saturday or November 18th if November 20th falls on a Sunday) up through the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.

2. A Rule 5 Draft-eligible player cannot be sent outright to the minors beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on the third day prior to the Rule 5 Draft through the conclusion of the draft.

3. A club must have as many slots open on its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players it selects in the Major League Phase, and an MLB club's AAA affiliate must have as many slots open on its reserve list prior to the Rule 5 Draft as the number of players the affiliate selects in the AAA Phase. 

4. A club can select a player off the reserve list of one of its own minor league affiliates, but if the player is selected in the Major League Phase, the club is bound by the same Rule 5 roster restrictions as if it had selected the player off the reserve list of another club's minor league affiliate.
NOTE: This actually happened at least once a number of years ago, after a club (Atlanta Braves) inadvertently left one of its top prospects off its MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) when minor league reserve lists were submitted to the MLB Commissioner on November 20th.

5. A player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "covered up" from selection, either by agreement between two clubs or by effect (such as by concocting a phony injury and placing the player on the Injured List in an attempt to decrease a player's value when the player is not really injured). Also, a player selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft cannot be "hidden" to help the drafting club fulfill Rule 5 roster obligations (such as by leaving the player on the Injured List after he is healthy enough to play). If the MLB Commissioner believes a club "covered up" a player to avoid losing the player in the Rule Draft or "hid" a selected player on an Injured List, the offending club or clubs are subject to a penalty (TBD by the MLB Commissioner).


"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.

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

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...

i'm yet to hear anything serious about the cubs being linked to any free agents.  it's early, and if they are shopping trade partners they may not know their actual FA needs until some guy(s) get moved in trade.

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.

"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.

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. 

NEXT: Among the Rule 5 Draft-eligible players you believe are legit candidates to get selected in the Major League Phase, does it matter that much if the player gets selected? Or would you rather have $100,000 (the Major League Phase draft price) and maybe use it to make a couple of waiver claims later instead? (The waiver price is $50,000). 

NEXT: Are any of your top five or even top ten prospects Rule 5 Draft-eligible? If so, they really need to be protected, regardless of what position they play or how far away the player may be from the big leagues.  

NEXT: For a player who is not a top 5 or top 10 prospect, is he MLB ready or near MLB ready? If you think the player is a decent but not great prospect and is not MLB-ready or near-MLB ready and if you think you will probably have a better than a 50-50 chance to re-claim him later because you think it's unlikely he could stay on an MLB 26-man roster for an entire season, then you leave the player unprotected.  

NEXT: How redundant is the player's position in your system? Having depth at a particular position makes it easier to lose a player if you have more prospects in your system (especially better prospects) who play that position. However, this is more of a tie-breaker. And it does not apply to top 5 or top 10 prospects. 

NEXT: How useful is the player to you right now? Is he ready or very close to being ready to help the big club, or is he a couple of years away? If his primary value is that he's MLB ready or near-MLB ready, how easy would it be to replace the player with a waiver claim or a minor league free agent?  

As far as deciding which Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to place on the AAA reserve list and which players to leave on reserve lists below AAA (players on reserve lists below AAA are eligible for selection in the AAA Phase for $24,000 with no mechanism to re-claim later). it's all about talent, upside, and remaining years of club control before the player can be a 6YFA. It's not about position redundancy or if the player is ready for AA or AAA. If the player has any degree of MLB potential he needs to be placed on the AAA reserve list (if feasible) even if he's just a "second-tier" prospect. 

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.

Hellooooo AZPhil,

Cool post, thanks. To go completely off topic - are Fall instructs happening this year? Did they already happen? 

KKvG: The Cubs are doing their Strength & Conditioning Camp October-Thanksgiving and will have Winter Instructs in January. 

Thanks. This seems like a non-traditional schedule, is this  new? 

KKvG: They did the same thing last year, but that was the first time. 

That's interesting. S&C, health, and durability are so underrated but maybe not anymore

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. 


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.

j.odorizzi accepted his qualifying offer (17.8m) from did j.abreu (CWS)....everyone else is gonna play the FA market.

w.smith (SF) immediately signed with the braves for 3/39 (13m team option/1m buyout on the backend).  braves lose a 2nd round pick...which they'll probably get back when someone signs j.donaldson.

"Javy Baez. The two-time All-Star shortstop and 2018 MVP runner-up already has begun negotiations on a potential long-term extension with the Cubs, according to sources."

also, some talk of being linked to shogo akiyama (CF, Japan, 32yo in April)

Little in the offseason could make me happier than the Cubs finding ways to retain the good MLB players who came up with them while remaining competitive. This Javy extension talk makes me much happier as a fan than the Bryant and Contreras trade talk.

 I hear you but welcome to the world of Theo.  The team is always a step or two away from the World Series in his mind, whether that is true or not.  Therefore, the thing to do on the margin is to trade top prospects or younger guys on the roster for that missing puzzle piece, not build for the future.  I had a front-row seat for this as a Red Sox fan.  If Pedro Martinez doesn't insist the Red Sox sign David Ortiz for table scraps and Chris Bryant isn't the no-brainer second pick in the draft, we'd all be wondering what happened to that Theo guy who was in the Red Sox front office for a couple years.  Or maybe we wouldn't even care.

christian yelich committed internet homicide on yu darvish...

Shogo Akiyama is a lefty bat, career BA at.301 w/ Seibu Lions.  Recent OBPs: .419, .385, .398, .403 and .392. HR 20-15 in last 3 seasons Stolen bases, 12 in 2019, 18 in best season (2016). Defense supposedly plus-plus, 7-10 assists (10 in 2016). Clearly a leadoff hitter.

AZ PHIL:  can you tell us a bit more about the "likely" ranking for PJ Higgins? I haven't had a chance to see him IRL. His stat sheet looks ok but not necessarily above some others. Is it a case of the "useful AAA catcher who can also do other things while not destroying you with the bat"?

First.Pitch.120: Without citing the source, I can say that other than Miguel Amaya, no Cub eligible for selection in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft is more-likely to be selected (if left unprotected) than P. J. Higgins, and if Higgins is selected, the Cubs will almost certainly not get him back. 

While he's not a top 10 or top 15 prospect and might have a greater value to at least one other organization than to the Cubs, as far as his actual value to the Cubs is concerned (that is, why they would care about losing him and not getting him back), Higgins fits the profile of an ideal "26th man" if the 26th man must be a position player and not a pitcher (which is how the rule has been proposed), but even beyond that, Higgins has developed into an above-average defensive catcher with a plus arm who has the athleticism and versatilty to play other positions (1B-2B-3B), and his bat showed significant improvement in 2019. 

And while he might not make the Cubs 2020 Opening Day roster, if he is still in the Cubs organization in 2020, he should at the very least be the #1 (or #1-A) catcher at AAA Iowa (as well as playing other positions when not catching) and would get the call-up if anything happens to Contreras or Caratini. That's if he's not the Cubs "26th man" in Chicago. 

Interesting, thanks AZ Phil.

Per S Sharma: "Cubs have added C Miguel Amaya, RHP Tyson Miller, RHP Manuel Rodriguez and INF Zack Short to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 36."

...Manny Rodriguez must be a bit of a surprise.

CUBSTER: Manuel Rodriguez was one of about two dozen players signed by the Cubs out of Mexico 2015-17 and he was one of the most-advanced (he spent three seasons in the Mexican League before signing with the Cubs). 

I remember John Arguello and I watching Rodriguez throw "live" BP at Minor League Camp in 2017 and John was really impressed (I believe he wrote something about Rodriguez over at Cubs Den at the time). Rodriguez had a swing & miss breaking ball (with hard downward action like a splitter or 12/6 SL) and a mid 90's FB (sinker) and he threw strikes, but at the same time hitters tended to square him up (especially when he hung his breaking ball) and so he gave up a lot of hard-contact.  

I remember one of the Cubs coaches told us at the time that he expected Rodriguez to start the 2017 season as the closer at Myrtle Beach (if not at AA Tennessee), but he ended up being left behind at EXST (where he was clobbered) and then he had a really bad year at South Bend in 2018. He just finally reached Myrtle Beach in 2019. 

So he was kind of a remedial "under-achiever" his first couple of seasons in the Cub system (other than an impressive K-rate, results came nowhere close to matching expectations), until he finally put things together at Myrtle Beach in 2019.

But I was very surprised that he was added to the 40 at this time since he hasn't pitched above Single-A. I suspect the Cubs probably liked his spin rate or something like that and/or maybe the Cubs had intell that another club was planning to select him in the Rule 5 Draft. (It's possible that the Cubs know that one of their ex-coaches or ex-front office guys now with another organization really likes Rodriguez).   

Rodriguez is a bit unusual in that he was always a reliever. He was never a starting pitcher. So in that sense he is like Dakota Mekkes or Craig Brooks or Chad Hockin. 

Why no Dakota Meekes?  Somebody is gonna take him.

mekkes plays out like d.maples, but mekkes doesn't throw as hard, mostly just throws his fastball, and it has great deception.  both of them have no predictable command and control.

given that mekkes is only expected to be a pen arm at best anyway, someone might very well snag him even if they end up sending him back before the season.

if we still were in an era where you could have "specialist" relievers rather than this new era of innings-guys, he would probably be on the cubs roster given that righties are generally lost against him.

Grandal leaves Brewers for WSox, 4/73 for a 31 yr old switch hitting catcher that hit .246 with decent on base and power.

"Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Jacoby Ellsbury plans to continue his career in 2020."

yeah, im gonna need someone to hide theo's phone until ells finds a new team.

The Yankees claim that Ellsbury violated his contract by receiving unauthorized medical care. What rights do players have to choose medical care?

it's uncharted territory, but has been semi-explored.  the mets tried to invalidate part of c.beltran's contract for having unauthorized surgery years ago, but backed off it before it could be directly challenged by his agent and player's association.  i dunno if any new rules or clarity on the issue has come up to address the issue since then, though.


Per the CBA... 

"A Club has the right under Regulation 2 of the Uniform Player’s Contract (“UPC”) to designate the doctors and hospitals furnishing medical care and hospital services to a Player for injuries sustained in the course and within the scope of his employment under his UPC.

A Player is entitled under Article XIII(D) of the Basic Agreement to go to a doctor on the second medical opinion list for diagnosis and a second medical evaluation of an employment related illness or injury being treated by the Club physician.

The Parties have had a disagreement regarding Club and Player rights when a second medical opinion doctor and a Club physician disagree on the appropriate course of treatment for a Player’s employment-related injury, including but not limited to disagreement over whether medical procedures not yet approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration qualify as “reasonable medical expenses” under Regulation 2 of the UPC.

Without attempting to resolve this disagreement, the Parties will continue to attempt to avoid disputes that might otherwise arise between Players and Clubs in this area by, among other things, urging their constituents to agree upon a qualified third physician expert in the appropriate medical specialty who would resolve the dispute between the Club physician and the second medical opinion doctor as to the appropriate course of treatment.

There have been other circumstances in which the Club physician and a Player’s second medical opinion doctor agree that a particular surgery is the appropriate course of treatment but the Player and Club disagree as to who should perform the surgery. While the Club has the right to designate the doctors and hospitals when a Player is undergoing a surgery for an employment related injury, the Clubs understand the importance of a Player being comfortable with the physician performing any such surgery.

As a result, the Office of the Commissioner will continue to advise Clubs that they should take a Player’s reasonable preferences into account when designating doctors to perform surgery under Regulation 2.

As part of this commitment, the Office of the Commissioner will advise the Clubs that in no event should they force a Player to have a surgery performed by the Club physician but should instead, in any case in which a Player has objected to the surgery being performed by the Club physician, designate another physician to perform the surgery." 

Thanks, Phil. I had no idea the clubs have that much control over the choice of doctors to treat players. 

Honestly, I would have guessed he was about 41 at this point. I am also surprised to see he has yet to slide into negative WAR numbers. Maybe if they are looking for a way to replace LaStella's catcher-interference skills?

still a better draft pick than mark pawelek.  hahahah... hahaha... hah... sigh.

"According to Jon Morosi of, the Cubs have shown continued interest in trading for Royals' second baseman Whit Merrifield."

we're still on that, i guess.  i wouldn't complain, but since he's locked into for 3 more years on the cheap (with a cheapish 4th year option) he won't be anything close to a bargain.

he's also a bit of a risk to give up a lot since he's almost 31, speed plays a big part of his ability, and his ob% is propped up heavily by his hitting vs ability to take a walk.

Kendall Graveman signs MLB contract with Seattle Mariners ($1.5M base salary in 2020 and $3.5M club option or else $500K buy-out in 2021, with $1.5M in potential performance bonuses in both 2020 and 2021). 

The Cubs signed Graveman to an MLB contract after he was non-tendered by the A's this time last year (Graveman would have been eligible for salary arbitration if the A's had tendered him a 2019 MLB contract), and he spent the 2019 season on the Cubs MLB Injured List ($575K salary) while rehabbing from TJS.

The Cubs held a $3M 2020 club option (plus $750K in potential performance bonuses) on Graveman but declined the option after the World Series (there was no buy-out required).

I wonder what pitcher we will sign and rehab so they can join another organization in 2021! That's the real question this offseason.

rich hill...

Besides Rich Hill, I would say Adam Warren, Steven Wright, Matt Bush, and Chasen Bradford are also good candidates, especially Warren.     

I'm trying to think of an example of one of these rehab signings that has worked out for the Cubs since Ryan Dempster. Hector Rondon was sort of the Rule V version, to the extent that's comparable.

CHARLIE: Granted the jury is still out, but Danny Hultzen was a long-term (two year) reclamation project that shows signs of a possible positive return (still TBD). 

I had forgotten that he started out with the Mariners and not the Cubs. Yep, Hultzen would count if the Cubs can get at least a partial year out of him at the MLB level!

Recent comments

Subscribe to Recent comments
The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Hagsag 17 hours 42 min ago (view)

    $$$$ for trump's defense fund.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 17 hours 45 min ago (view)

    But they got $600 a few months back. Each! That was an unexpected windfall.

    Can't wait to see us acquire a 17 year old, 16 year old, 11 year old (all in the 15-30 range of Blue Jays prospects) and one of the shitty Jays surplus OFs. Randal Grichuk jerseys will be the new hot item among Cubs fans.


  • crunch 18 hours 37 min ago (view)

    things are a little tight, we have to be patient with the ricketts family finances.

    when TD Ameritrade was fully/completely sold in october they expected to get 26 billion dollars of value on the transaction, but it only got 22 billion dollars.  the massive slew of millions that didn't fully come to realization on the ricketts side of that sale stings.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 18 hours 54 min ago (view)

    Trade Hendricks? Cant be true. We're "going to be competitive this year."

    Sell the team, Ricketts family.


  • crunch 19 hours 9 min ago (view)

    "Scott Mitchell of TSN reports that the Blue Jays have discussed a potential trade with the Cubs involving Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks.

    Mitchell was responding to a question on Twitter asking whether there was any truth to the rumor that the Jays had talked with the Cubs about a deal for both players, and he answered in the affirmative."

    this timeline sucks.


  • bradsbeard 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    International Scouting Director Louie Eljaua was just on The Score and he mentioned that COVID is causing issues with completing physicals and officially signing guys, but he said they have 24 guys unufficially signed right now.


  • KingKongvsGodzilla 2 days 22 min ago (view)

    These guys are a year apart in age and Miller's easily had the stronger career to date. While I'm not big on Miller, much prefer his more standard injury (TJ) than whatever it is that sapped Foltynewicz's velocity. Folty without velocity just isn't interesting and is likely a much bigger injury risk


  • Cubster 2 days 32 min ago (view)

    from an article by Jordan Bastian...excerpt on Cubs free agent starting pitching options:

    "Still, the Cubs need some more experienced Major League innings.

    Given the way the offseason has played out for the North Siders, free-agent possibilities could include Chris Archer. Archer missed all of 2020 due to thoracic outlet syndrome, but he hopes to be ready to go by Spring Training. Free agents Mike Foltynewicz, Carlos Rodón, Rick Porcello and Trevor Williams are coming off forgettable '20 seasons but might benefit from the Cubs' analytics team.


  • Charlie 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    At this rate, they will need 11 starters in 2021 but like 6 of them will be more or less Alec Mills. The defense will get plenty of practice, at least.


  • crunch 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    i wouldn't be surprised to see jake arrieta come on board since no one else seems to want him and he'll probably have to take a 1yr deal...


  • crunch 2 days 21 hours ago (view)

    cubs get their backup catcher...hopefully not their main catcher...

    austin romine 1yr/1.5m


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 22 hours ago (view)

    Look no further than Shelby Miller!


  • crunch 2 days 23 hours ago (view)

    hank aaron has died.  passed away in his sleep.

    we've lost a lot of HOF'rs and other notables in the past many months.


  • Hagsag 3 days 4 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs are now the "Little Sisters of the Poor".


  • crunch 3 days 11 hours ago (view)

    given what little we're supposed to expect out of this offseason that would have been a nice gamble.

    at this point i wonder if they're going to snag someone to put in between the 2 current staff aces that throw 88mph on a good day, or if they're just gonna toss one of the kids in there to break up the slow-tossers.

    i mean, there's gotta be something more than hendricks/davies/mills/alzolay/???...i hope.


  • springs 3 days 12 hours ago (view)

    That sucks...I wanted to sign Q to a one year deal and see if he could right the ship.  At a minimum I hoped we'd get a draft pick when he left as a free agent and thought we could roll the dice to try and get that.  That