Cubs Could Try a Little Non-Tenderness

12/2 UPDATE:

The Cubs have tendered 2020 contracts to all unsigned players on their MLB 40-man roster except LHRP Danny Hultzen and INF Addison Russell, and RHP Jharel Cotton has agreed to a $640K 2020 non-guaranteed contract to avoid being non-tendered (see ORIGINAL POST below for the reasons).  

So Hultzen and Russell have been removed from the Cubs MLB 40-man roster and both are now unrestricted free-agents, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club, including the Cubs.
NOTE: The Cubs MLB Reserve List now stands at 36 (four slots are open).

It's likely that the Cubs have tentatively agreed (in advance) to sign Hultzen to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft (with an NRI to Spring Training and for more money than he would have received if he had remained on the 40 -- as happened with Allen Webster a year ago) - AS LONG AS - Hultzen does not receive an MLB contract offer (which would include a slot on an MLB 40-man roster) for even more money from another club in the interim (which is exactly what happened after the Cubs non-tendered Ronald Torreyes a year ago), or a substantial salary offer from an NPB (Japanese) club (as happened after the Cubs non-tendered Justin Hancock last year).   

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11/26 ORIGINAL POST:

The deadline for tendering a 2020 MLB contract to an unsigned player on an MLB reserve list is 8 PM (Eastern) next Monday (December 2nd). 
NOTE: Some of you may recall that the MLB contract tender deadline was November 30th last year, but that's only because December 2nd fell on a Sunday in 2018. 

NON-TENDER

If an unsigned player on an MLB Reserve List is not tendered a contract by next Monday's deadline, the player is said to be "Non-Tendered," and he is immediately removed from his club's MLB 40-man roster and becomes an unrestricted free-agent, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club, including the club that non-tendered the player.

A "Non-Tendered" player receives no termination pay, and the player's former club receives no compensation if the player subsequently signs with another club.

Unlike a player who receives an Outright Release, a player who is not tendered a contract on 12/2 is not placed on waivers prior to becoming a free-agent.(waiver price for Outright Release Waivers is $1). Also. a player who receives an Outright Release anytime starting on September 1st up until MLB Opening Day cannot sign an MLB contract with the club that released him (and be added back to the club's MLB 40-man roster) until May 15th, whereas a player who is non-tendered on 12/2 can sign (MLB or minor league contract) with the club that non-tendered him anytime and without any restrictions.  

MLB MINIMUM SALARY 

Each unsigned player on an MLB 40-man roster who is tendered a contract must be offered at least the MLB minimum salary ($563,500 in 2020) and (with a couple of exceptions) at least 80% of the player's previous season's salary, and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back.

MINOR SPLIT SALARY 

Some players have a "minor league split" salary in their contract which they are paid if they are sent to the minors. In most cases, a player's minor league "split" salary must be at least 50% of the player's salary (as was actually paid to the player) from the previous season. The one exception is if a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply. 

The minor league "split" minimum salary is $91,800 in 2020, and the minor league "split" minimum salary for players who are on an MLB Reserve List for the first time is $46,000.  

PERFORMANCE/INCENTIVE BONUSES 

In addition to a player's "base" salary, performance-incentive bonuses are permitted in Major League contracts, but a bonus cannot be based on batting or pitching skill, or where the club finishes in the standings.

A performance-incentive bonus can, however, be tied to days spent on an MLB Active List during the MLB regular season, and/or Games Played, Games Started, Games Finished, and/or Innings Pitched for pitchers, or Games Played, Games Started, and/or Plate Appearances for position players. Awards such as MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger, and/or Gold Glove, and/or being named to an All-Star team, can also be tied to an incentive bonus.

SALARY ARBITRATION 

An unsigned player under club control who has accrued at least three but less than six years of MLB Service Time is automatically eligible for salary arbitration.

Also, any unsigned player with at least two years but less than three years of MLB Service Time who accrued at least 86 days of MLB Service Time during the previous season can qualify for salary arbitration as a so-called "Super Two" if the player is among the top 22% in MLB Service Time of players in that group (rounded to the nearest whole number). And if  two or more players are tied with the same MLB Service Time just above the "Super Two" threshold, all of the players with that accrued MLB ST would get "Super Two" status even if that means the number of players with "Super Two" status exceeds 22%.   
NOTE: The "Super Two" threshold post-2019 is two years plus 115 days of MLB Service Time (or 2+115). Because it is based on a percentage, the "Super Two" threshold fluctuates from year-to-year (it was 2+134 MLB ST post-2018, 2+123 post-2017, 2+131 post-2016, 2+130 post-2015, 2+133 post-2014, 2+122 post-2013, 2+140 post-2012, 2+145 post-2011, 2+122 in 2010, and 2+139 in 2009), but the threshold has generally gone down whenever a new CBA is signed, because the percentage of players who automatically qualify for "Super Two" status has increased with each new CBA.

Besides gaining the right to request salary arbitration and have that right four times instead of just three times, being a "Super Two" player also means the player can elect free-agency if outrighted even though he has not yet accrued three years of MLB Service Time and even if he has not been outrighted previously in his career (however, unlike a player who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or has been outrighted previously in his career and who therefore has the option to elect free-agency immediately or else defer the choice until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, a "Super Two ' player who has not been outrighted previously in his career must make his choice immediately upon being outrighted). 

UNSIGNED CUBS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION (last updated 11-23-2019)
Albert Almora, OF 
Javier Baez, INF 
Kris Bryant, INF 
Willson Contreras, C 
Jharel Cotton, RHP 
Addison Russell, INF 
Kyle Ryan, LHP ("Super Two")
Kyle Schwarber, OF 

If a club and a player eligible for salary arbitration cannot agree on a contract, the player can request the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to file for salary arbitration. The MLBPA is responsible for delivering all requests for salary arbitration to the MLB Labor Relations Department (MLB LRD) on the Tuesday immediately prior to the Friday that falls during the week January 10-16. Once salary arbitration has been requested, the player submits his desired salary to the MLBPA, the club submits its salary offer to the MLB LRD, and the MLBPA and MLB LRD exchange the two figures on the Friday that falls during the week January 10-16. The MLBPA and MLB LRD then schedule a hearing with a three-person arbitration panel. Hearings are held on various dates during the first three weeks of February.

The club's offer must be at least the MLB minimum salary, and, in most cases, must be at least 80% of the player's previous year's salary and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back. However, if the player received a raise in excess of 50% by a salary arbitration panel the previous season, a 20% maximum salary reduction from the previous season and a 30% maximum salary reduction from two seasons back does not apply, and the club only has to offer at least the MLB minimum salary.

After arbitration has been requested, the player and the club can continue to negotiate back & forth, and the player can withdraw from the process any time up until the hearing. And in fact this frequently happens, as the player and the club will often agree to just "split the difference" (something the panel cannot do).

If the matter does go to a hearing, the arbitration panel must choose either the club's offer or the player's figure, and win or lose, the player is awarded a standard one-year MLB contract with no "minor league split" salary or incentive/performance bonuses. Also, the contract is not guaranteed, so if the player is released during Spring Training, the club would only owe the player 30 days or 45 days salary as termination pay, depending on when the player is released. (A player on an MLB Reserve List signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released more than 15 days prior to Opening Day receives 30 days salary as termination pay, a player on an MLB Reserve List signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released 15 or fewer days prior to Opening Day receives 45 days salary as termination pay, and a player on an MLB Reserve List who is released during the MLB regular season receives 100% of his salary as termination pay). 
NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player is awarded a contract by an arbitration panel and then is subsequently released by his club prior to or during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.

PRE-ARBITRATION (AUTO-RENEWAL) 

An unsigned player under club control who does not yet qualify for salary arbitration ultimately has to either accept the club's offer or just not play.

A club will negotiate with the player up to a point, but if the player has not signed a contract for the current season by March 1st, the club has the right to unilaterally dictate the player's salary and renew the player's contract from the previous season (albeit for an amount not less than the MLB minimum salary, and not less than 80% of the player's salary from the previous season and not less than 70% of the player's salary from two season's back). 

These players are the ones who have a "minor league split" salary in their contract, which the player is paid if he is sent to the minors. A player's "minor league split" salary must be at least equal to the MLB "minor league split" minimum salary and must be at least 50% of the player's salary (what the player was actually paid) over the course of the previous season.
NOTE: If a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply.

UNSIGNED PRE-ARBITRATION (AUTO-RENEWAL) CUBS (last updated 11-20-2019)
Adbert Alzolay, RHP
Miguel Amaya, C 
Victor Caratini, C
Robel Garcia, INF-OF
Ian Happ, INF-OF
Nico Hoerner, INF
Danny Hultzen, LHP 
Tony Kemp, INF-OF
Dillon Maples, RHP
Tyson Miller, RHP 
Alec Mills, RHP
James Norwood, RHP
Colin Rea, RHP
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP 
Zack Short, INF 
Justin Steele, LHP 
Duane Underwood Jr, RHP
Rowan Wick, RHP
Brad Wieck, LHP 

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REASONS WHY A PLAYER MIGHT BE NON-TENDERED

The are five main reasons why a player is non-tendered:  

1. Player is eligible for salary arbitration 
2. Player is out of minor league options 
3. Player has Draft-Excluded status 
4. Player has Article XX-D rights but is not eligible for salary arbitration
5. Player has Rule 55 rights 
6. Player has sustained a significant injury 

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1. So the Cubs have eight unsigned players on their MLB 40-man roster who are eligible for salary arbitration:

ALBERT ALMORA 
JAVIER BAEZ 
KRIS BRYANT 
WILLSON CONTRERAS 
JHAREL COTTON 
ADDISON RUSSELL
KYLE RYAN
("Super Two") 
KYLE SCHWARBER 

Of these eight, three are candidates to be non-tendered (two in particular).  

ADDISON RUSSELL: This isn't as much a matter of the Cubs wanting to cut ties with a player with "baggage" (they could have done that a year ago if that was the case) as it is not wanting to take a chance that Russell might get a 2020 salary award from a salary arbitratiion panel that is more than what the Cubs will want to pay. With Russell, the Cubs are probably going to want him to accept a relatively low base salary (maybe $2M) with another $2M in performance and/or roster bonuses. But if he is tendered a contract Russell can't be cut more than 20% and (even after having about a month of his 2019 salary withheld while he was serving the balance of his 2018 DV suspension) he made just over $3M in 2019, which means the very least he can be offered (if tendered a 2020 contract) is about $2.5M. And if the Cubs tender Russell a 2020 contract with the maximum-allowable 20% salary cut, Russell will almost certainly request salary arbitration, and if he does, there would be a reasonable chance that a salary arbitration panel would side with Russell (who will probably request something around $5M). 

So it's VERY unlikely that Russell will agree to a contract that has a low base salary plus incentives and it's also unlikely that if the Cubs offer Russell a 2020 contract with a salary cut that they will win in arbitration, and the Cubs probably already know that, in which case the Cubs are probably (as we speak) actively attempting to trade Russell before the contract tender deadline. And whether there is even a trade market for Russell when most clubs probably figure he is going to be non-tendered (and will become a free-agent) on 12/2 anyway is a good question.  

JHAREL COTTON: Because he has spent so much time on the MLB DL/IL over the past couple of seasons (two full seasons worth of MLB DL/IL time) Cotton is eligible for salary arbitration (which is probably why he got DFA'd by the A's), so he is a possible non-tender candidate on 12/2, especially if the Cubs don't want to risk going to arbitration with him if he and the club can't agree on a 2020 contract.

Keep in mind that a contract awarded via arbitration (by rule) cannot include a minor league split salary or performance bonuses, both of which may be a deal-breaker for the Cubs if they suspect Cotton will likely spend at least part of the 2020 season at AAA. It's very possible that given Cotton's recent injury history, the Cubs would prefer to pay him a low MLB base salary (like the MLB minimum) but with easily-achievable performance and/or roster bonuses if Cotton proves to be healthy and able to pitch in MLB in 2020, together with a minor league split salary (probably somewhere around $250K) if he is optioned to AAA and spends at least part of the 2020 season at Iowa. If Cotton doesn't agree, he could be non-tendered. 

ALBERT ALMORA: Almora's situation is different that Russell's and Cotton's.

Almora is projected to get maybe $2M if the matter were to go to salary arbitration, and the difference between what the Cubs will offer Almora (probably something close to $2M) and what Almora wants (probably something close to $2.5M) might not be enough to cause the Cubs to non-tender him. However, the Cubs might prefer that Almora accept a low base salary (maybe $1.25M) with maybe another $1M in performance bonuses included that would pay him less if he has a diminished role on the team in 2020. But I think an Almora non-tender is much, much less-likely than a Russell or Cotton non-tender.

The main reason Almora would maybe have been non-tendered in another (different) season would be if the Cubs knew they were going to need his slot on the 40-man roster during the off-season for a free-agent and they were unable to trade him, but that is not the case right now. It does not appear that the Cubs will need Almora's slot on the 40 for another player, so it's very unlikely that he will be non-tendered. (He could get traded, though).  

Remember, despite what you might read next week, a club does - NOT - offer a player salary arbitration when the player is tendered a contract, and a club does - NOT - decline to offer salary arbitration if a player is non-tendered. An MLB club either tenders or does not tender a contract to an unsigned arbitration-eligible player on 12/2, and then if the player is tendered but is unhappy with the offer and the two sides cannot come to an agreement, the player (and only the player) can request salary arbitration in January. (Even though they are actually just as likely to win as to lose, most MLB clubs are averse to going to a salary arbitration hearing if they can avoid it). 
 
2. There are presently four unsigned pre-arbitration (auto-renewal) players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who are out of minor league options:

DANNY HULTZEN 
TONY KEMP 
ALEC MILLS
DUANE UNDERWOOD JR 

 
Any one of them could get non-tendered.

The way it's done is the club non-tenders the player on 12/2 (so that he can't be claimed off waivers), and then they wait until after the Rule 5 Draft (which will be on December 12th) to re-sign the player to a minor league contract (so that the player can't be selected in the Rule 5 Draft).

The reason why a club would non-tender a player who is out of minor league options is if the club values the player enough such that if there is a question about whether the player will be able to make the club's Opening Day MLB roster out of Spring Training, the player can be sent to AAA without the club taking the risk that the player could be claimed off waivers. The Cubs did this last year with Allen Webster (he was out of minor league options, he was non-tendered, signed a minor league contract with the Cubs after the Rule 5 Draft, came to Spring Training as an NRI and was very impressive but failed to make the Opening Day bullpen because the Cubs had too many veteran arms with guaranteed contracts in the pen at the start of the season, and then he was called-up in April once there was room for him in the pen).   

However, in the case of Hultzen and Mills (but maybe not so much with Kemp and Underwood), if they are non-tendered and agree (in advance) to sign a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft if they don't receive an MLB contract offer from another club in the interim, I suspect both will get a 2020 MLB contract offer from another club if non-tendered, and I don't think the Cubs want to risk losing either Hultzen or Mills that way. 

Two other factors that pertain just to Danny Hultzen and could influence the Cubs in deciding to non-tender him is that he has both Draft-Excluded status (he was added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th) and Article XX-D rights (he has been outrighted previously in his career), so he can't be outrighted any earlier than 20 days prior to Opening Day and he has the right to elect free-agency even if waivers can be secured prior to OPening Day. 

3. The Cubs have six Draft-Excluded Players on their MLB 40-man roster:

MIGUEL AMAYA 
DANNY HULTZEN
TYSON MILLER 
COLIN REA
MANUEL RODRIGUEZ 
ZACK SHORT

A "Draft-Excluded Player" is any minor league player who has accrued less than three years of MLB Service Time and who is eligible for selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft, whose contract is selected, and who is added to an MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) between August 15th and the Rule 5 Draft.

A Draft-Excluded Player can be non-tendered on 12/2, released, or traded at any time, but he cannot be sent to the minors by Optional Assignment beginning with the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day.

A Draft-Excluded Player can be sent outright to the minors only if Outright Assignment Waivers are requested no later than 2 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day following the final game of the World Series, and if a Draft-Excluded Player is not outrighted to the minors prior to the Rule 5 Draft, the player cannot be Designated for Assignment or sent outright to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to the start of the MLB regular season.

So a Draft-Excluded Player is essentially a lot like a Rule 5 Draft pick during the off-season and the first half of Spring Training, in that the player cannot be optioned or outrighted to minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening day. 

So if the Cubs believe they will need a Draft-Excluded player's roster slot during the off-season (which does not appear to be the case for the Cubs right now), other than outright release or trade, the only way to remove the player from the 40 is by a non-tender. 

4. The Cubs have two unsigned players who are not yet eligible for salary arbitration but who have Article XX-D rights (player can elect free-agency if outrighted): 

DANNY HULTZEN 
ROWAN WICK 

Any player who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career has the right to elect free-agency if outrighted.

Even though he has Article XX-D rights, Danny Hultzen cannot be outrighted any earlier than 20 days prior to Opening Day because he is a Draft-Excluded player, but if he were to be outrighted after that point in time (20 days prior to MLB Opening Day), he can elect free-agency after being outrighted.   

5. The Cubs have seven players with Rule 55 status who otherwise have no restrictions (not Draft-Excluded and do not have Article XX-D rights) that would preclude them from being outrighted during the off-season: 

ADBERT ALZOLAY 
VICTOR CARATINI 
ROBEL GARCIA 
TONY KEMP 
DILLON MAPLES 
ALEC MILLS 
DUANE UNDERWOOD JR 


Starting at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series, an unsigned MLB Rule 55 eligible player (second contract or 6YFA) who was not selected in the Rule 5 Draft or is not a Draft-Excluded Player and/or is not eligible to elect free-agency if outrighted cannot be sent outright to the minors until Outright Assignment Waivers are secured and the player has either signed a Major League contract for the next season, had his previous season's contract unilaterally renewed by the club, or agrees (in advance) to sign a minor league contract for the next season (if the Outright Assignment is contemplated prior to a Major League contract being tendered).
NOTE: For any MLB player not eligible for salary arbitration, an MLB club can unilaterally renew the player's contract from the previous season (subject to the MLB minimum salary rule and the MLB maximum salary-reduction rule) if the player has not signed a contract by March 1st.

Most players with Rule 55 status (or at least their agents) know the rule, so they usually try and wait until at least the start of Spring Training (if not March 1st) before signing a contract. That way, they can't be sent outright to the minors during the off-season (after 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series).

However, the player can be non-tendered, especially if the club needs the player's 40-man roster slot during the off-season and/or did not want to risk losing the player off waivers by trying to outright him to the minors after the World Series or by successfully outrighting him to the minors after the World Series only to lose him as a minor league 6YFA (as happened with Allen Webster three weeks ago), and so a non-tender is generally the best way to remove a Rule 55 player from the MLB 40-man roster.    

Hultzen, Kemp, Mills, and Underwood are already candidates to be non-tendered because they are out of minor league options (Hultzen is also a Draft-Excluded Player), but for the others with Rule 55 status (only) where the player essentially can't be outrighted to the minors during the off-season unless and until he signs an MLB contract, removing the player from the 40 via non-tender is basically the only way to do it and (hopefully) still retain the player (by non-tendering the player and then signing the player to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft).

I think the most-likely Cubs Rule 55 player not out of minor league options to possibly be non-tendered (and then hopefully re-signed to a minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft) is Robel Garcia, but that's only if the Cubs believe that they will need his 40-man roster slot during the off-season, and as I mentioned previously, right now that just does not appear to be necessary.  

6. There are no injured unsigned players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who need to be non-tendered. If the Cubs had an unsigned player on the 40 who had sustained a major injury that player could be non-tendered just to get the player off the 40 and signed to a minor league contract while rehabbing (there are restrictions pertaining to the outrighting of an injured player to the minors during the off-season), but there aren't any players like that on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster right now. 

THE BOTTOM LINE PROBLEM WITH A NON-TENDER

The main problem is, a player does not have to agree to sign a minor league contract after being non-tendered. He can just say "no thanks." Or he could agree but with the caveat that if he receives an MLB contract offer from another club before he officially signs the minor league contract (as happened with Ronald Torreyes last year after he was non-tendered by the Cubs), that he will take it. The club might try to induce the player to wait and sign the minor league contract by offering the player more money than he would have received if he had been on the 40, but there is always a chance that once non-tendered the player will take the opportunity to sign with another club.

And if the player doesn't agree in advance to re-sign after being non-tendered, the club's only option (if the club doesn't want to lose the player) would be to just go ahead and tender the player an MLB contract and take the chance that the player will not be claimed off waivers if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster (or in the case of Danny Hultzen, the Cubs would be taking the chance that he could get claimed off waivers, but even if Outright Assignment Waivers can be secured, the Cubs would be taking a chance that he will elect free-agency if outrighted). 

Comments

Hey Phil, question on the whole "Rule 55 status" thing. Last offseason, the Mets outrighted Gavin Cecchini in January, even though he would have been a 6YFA in November had he not been on the 40-man roster. Is it possible that simply tendering him a contract on Dec. 2 (or Nov. 30 last year) removed those restrictions?

jdmym: Gavin Cecchini was indeed a Rule 55 player post-2018.

The Mets would have had to tender him a contract last year on 11/30 to keep him from being a non-tendered free-agent, and because he was an auto-renewal player, the Mets would have been able to automatically renew his 2018 contract on March 1st if he had not yet signed a 2019 contract by that date 

He was Designated for Assignment  on 1/28 and then was outrighted on 2/1, so during that four-day period the Mets apparently convinced him to sign a 2019 contract so that he could be outrighted to the minors (they may have upped their salary offer and also gave him an NRI to Spring Training to get him to agree). Otherwise the Mets would have had to either trade him or release him (no other choice). 

From Cecchini's (and his agents's) POV, he would know that if he wasn't claimed off waivers that he was unlikely to get traded, or to receive a major league deal from another club if the Mets released him, so as long as they took care of him (an NRI to Spring Training and maybe a slight salary bump over the club's original offer) and so long as he was happy remaining in the Mets organization, the decision to sign may not have been that difficult.

The advantage of being an unsigned Rule 55 player during the off-season (December-January-February) is that even though you are not an actual Article XX-D player you do have de facto Article XX-D rights (that is, the right that players who have been outrighted previously in their career or who have accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time or who qualify as a "Super Two" player have) that gives you the right to refuse an Outright Assignment to the minors and become a free-agent (in this case, via Outright Release after declining to sign a contract). 

So while Cecchini did not have actual Article XX-D rights last off-season, he was essentially an Article XX-D player because he was in a position to force the Mets to release him if they couldn't trade him (so that he could become a free-agent) if he had declined to sign a 2019 contract prior to being outrighted. 

Of the eleven players who were outrighted to the minors since 5 PM (Eastern) on 11/4 (the 5th day after the final game of the World Series), three (RHP Conner Greene, LHP Williams Jerez, and OF Daniel Palka) were Rule 55 players without Article XX-D rights (that is, they could not elect free-agency if outrighted), which means that they had to agree to a 2020 minor league contract after being Designated for Assignment but prior to being outrighted.

If they had not agreed to sign a 2020 minor league contract prior to being outrighted, they would have had to have been either traded or released within the seven-day DFA period.    

cj edwards slides over to the mariners on a 1/950K + 500K incentives deal.

ATL signs cole hamels 1/18m...a'ite then.

also, z.wheeler 5/100+ to the phillies.

The Cubs 2019 CBT liability was $7.6M, meaning the Cubs taxable payroll (including MLB Player Benefit Costs) was $244M ($38M over the 2019 CBT AAV threshold of $208M and just $2M under the 2019 AAV mega-limit of $246M).

That's because any payroll over the CBT threshold is taxed at 20% for the first $40M, and $7.6M is 20% of $38M, so therefore the Cubs 2018 payroll was $38M over $206M, or $244M. 

The 2020 CBT AAV threshold is $208M and at present the Cubs 2020 CBT tax liablity is appoximately $208, presuming $141M in signed contracts, $45M projected for the six unsigned arbitration eligible players, $7M estimated for auto-remewal players (including $6M projected for auto-renewal players expected to be on the Opening Day 26-man roster and another $1M for players on Optional Assignment to the minors), and $15M projected (estimated) for 2020 MLB Player Benefit Costs.    

So if the Cubs make no further moves during the off-season and Spring Training, they will be right at the luxury tax threshold on Opening Day. And I don't think it's far-fetched to believe that all of the moves (and non-moves) made by the Cubs so far post-2019 were made specifically to get back down to the CBT threshold, which apparently has been mandated by the Ricketts Family.  

And I would think that any further moves made by the Cubs that require taking on payroll via trade or free-agent signing will have to be offset by another corresponding move (trade) that would match the 2020 AAV salary increase. 

For example, trading Kris Bryant (projected to get $18.5M in 2020 ) and Jose Quintana (signed for $10.5M) would save about $29M in 2020 AAV payroll that could be allocated elsewhere (like maybe in part to Nicholas Castellanos, for instance). 

If so, I wonder if Epstein-Hoyer might be able to convince Ricketts to consent to the Cubs signing Castellanos (only because the Cubs can't wait much longer), with the promise that Bryant and Quintana will (one way or another) absolutely and positively be traded by Opening Day.  

BTW, whether or not they trade Bryant or Quintana and sign Castellanos, the Cubs will have about $35M-$45M in AAV payroll coming off the books post-2020 (the $10M difference depending on whether Quintana is traded prior to 2020 Opening Day or remains with the Cubs in 2020), presuming Jon Lester's 2021 $25M option does not vest (he must throw at least 200 IP in 2020 for it to vest, and he hasn't thrown 200 IP since 2016) and the Cubs pay the $10M buy-out (so $15.5M overall AAV savings from Lester post-2020), plus free-agents Tyler Chatwood ($12.67M AAV savings), Jose Quintana ($10.5M AAV savings if he isn't traded), and Daniel Descalso FA ($2.5M  AAV savings), and $3.5M more in 2020 legacy AAV paid to Brandon Morrow ($3M buy-out from contract signed in 2018) and Brad Brach ($500K owed in 2020 after August 2019 release), and that doesn't even include possible post-2020 non-tenders.      

So not only can the Cubs payroll AAV remain under the CBT threshold in 2020 (whether they trade Bryant and Quintana and sign Castellanos or don't trade Bryant and Quintana and don't sign Castellanos), this time next year the Cubs actually could make at least one major FA "splash" ($20M+) signing (like maybe Robbie Ray or Trevor Bauer to replace Lester) and two or three lesser FA signings ($5M each) depending how high the Cubs go for the one "Big Fish," while at the same time signing Rizzo, Baez, Contreras, and/or Schwarber to post-2020 contract extensions, and after all that, still remain under the 2021 CBT AAV threshold (which will go up to $210M in 2021).  

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  • Cubster 2 hours 40 min ago (view)

    MLBTR has an update on the latest owner's revision proposal. 

     

  • Cubster 4 hours 53 min ago (view)

    'we have a donald trump problem, but he may be a highly advanced and dangerous symptom rather than the actual disease.'

    Surely true, dear Crunch. Trump has emboldened the ugly fact that America's cruel underbelly is still racism and police brutality that forwards that original sin. 

    America NEEDS its HEROES.

     

  • Cubster 5 hours 3 min ago (view)

    if he does die by "suicide", I would blame Bill Barr and look into a real conspiracy.

     

  • Cubster 5 hours 5 min ago (view)

    welcome to an unwelcome June 1st.

     

  • Hagsag 5 hours 59 min ago (view)

    November 3, vote!

     

  • George Altman 13 hours 23 min ago (view)

    Yes, many players are millionaires too. However, a good percentage of MLB Owners are billionaires. If there's no MLB in 2020 that's on 30 owners, not the players no matter how the Press spins things. 

     

  • George Altman 13 hours 27 min ago (view)

    Well said, Crunch. #Resistance 

     

  • crunch 13 hours 36 min ago (view)

    i'm not a fan of this administration.  i'm not a fan of someone holding office who's rise to political prominence involved insisiting, with proof he clamed, that the current elected president at the time was not a citizen of the United States.

    we watched as state after state was slowly "won over" by promises of keeping out muslims and hispanics as the most important issue that could help elevate the state of our country.

     

  • BobbyD 15 hours 17 min ago (view)

    Crunch, I'm looking at you. You dominate this site, you never don't comment. Say something meaningful now this country is effed if our current pussy is reelected. Personally I would love tomorrow's headline to be he died an agonizing death. It's time we bring this motherfucket down. 

     

  • BobbyD 17 hours 47 min ago (view)

    So the Minneapolis cop who murdered George Floyd is on suicide watch. Gosh, I sure hope that pathetic piece of shit doesn't take his own life. How can MAGA be true if pigs like this fuck die? Think of the white people!!!

     

  • crunch 17 hours 57 min ago (view)

    "Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that there is "no evidence of progress yet" in talks between MLB and the MLBPA and, thus, "no realistic hope" of reaching a deal by the "soft" June 1 deadline.

    Heyman adds, though, that the deadline "was soft for a reason" and the "hope remains to start (the) season (during the) July 4 weekend." In order for that to happen and for spring training 2.0 to start as hoped on June 10, June 5-9 appears to be the likeliest window for a deal to get done"

     

  • crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome.  #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012

     

  • crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.

    "oh hi." - green bay packers

    *shoves out of way*

    like i said, there's no way that would work.

     

  • Hagsag 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    Corey Black still has a job.

     

  • Charlie 1 day 23 hours ago (view)

    I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.

    If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 2 days 3 hours ago (view)

    Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.