2020 Cubs Spring Training Uniform Numbers


The Cubs have optioned RHP Dillon Maples to AAA Iowa.  

So the Cubs MLB Active List roster now stands at 30, with ten players on Optional Assignment.  

The status of the eight remaining Cubs MLB Spring Training minor league NRI (LHP Rex Brothers, C-INF P. J. Higgins, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Ian Miller, RHP Brandon Morrow, INF-OF Hernan Perez, C Josh Phegley, and RHP Michael Rucker) is unclear, although MLB and the MLBPA have agreed that the deadline for a club to decide whether to release a post-2019 MLB Article XX-B free-agent signed to a 2020 minor league contract (Kipnis and Morrow), add the player to the MLB 40-man roster by Opening Day, or retain the player on a minor league contract where the player receives a $100K retention bonus and an automatic 6/1 player opt-out, will be postponed until five days prior to MLB Opening Day (once it has been rescheduled).     


The Cubs have optioned RHP James Norwood to AAA Iowa, and LHRP Danny Hultzen, RHRP Dakota Mekkes, LHRP Wyatt Short, and RHRP Ben Taylor have been assigned to Minor League Camp.  

Cubs MLB Spring Training roster now stands at 39 (21 pitchers, four catchers, eight infielders, and six outfielders). 


The Cubs have optioned RHP Adbert Alzolay, RHP Colin Rea, and INF Zack Short to AAA Iowa and C Miguel Amaya to AA Tennessee, sent INF Carlos Asuaje, OF Noel Cuevas, INF-OF Trent Giambrone, and 1B Corban Joseph to Minor League Camp, and added NRI RHP Michael Rucker to MLB Spring Training roster.

Cubs MLB Spring Training roster now stands at 44 (26 pitchers, four catchers, eight infielders, and six outfielders) 


The Cubs have optioned RHP Tyson Miller and INF-OF Robel Garcia to AAA Iowa and RHP Manuel Rodriguez and LHP Justin Steele to AA Tennessee, sent non-roster RHP Jason Adam, RHP Oscar de la Cruz, LHP Tyler Olson, LHP C. D. Pelham, RHP Caleb Simpson, RHP Brock Stewart and C Jhonny Pereda to Minor League Camp, and re-claimed RHP Michael Rucker (selected by Baltimore Orioles in Major Phase of 2019 Rule 5 Draft) and assigned him outright to AAA Iowa.  

Cubs MLB Spring Training roster now stands at 51


NOTE 1: These are preliminary and are subject to change 
NOTE 2: Numbers 6, 18, 35, 37, 47, 49, 53, 69, 70, 80, 90, 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, and 98 are not assigned at this time (Cubs do not issue #69) 
NOTE 3: Some of the Spring Training guest instructors are wearing duplicate numbers

2 Nico Hoerner, INF  
3 David Ross, MANAGER
4 Josh Phegley, C (NON-ROSTER) 
5 Albert Almora Jr, OF 
7 Victor Caratini, C-1B 
8 Ian Happ, OF-INF
9 Javy Baez, INF 
11 Yu Darvish, P 
12 Kyle Schwarber, OF 
13 David Bote, INF  
15 Brandon Morrow, P (NON-ROSTER)
16 Robel Garcia, INF  
17 Kris Bryant, INF 
20 Colin Rea, P 
20 Kevin Youkilis, GUEST INSTRUCTOR
21 Steven Souza Jr, OF  
22 Jason Heyward, OF 
23 Ryne Sandberg, GUEST INSTRUCTOR
24 Jeremy Jeffress, P
26 Billy Williams, GUEST INSTRUCTOR 
27 Jason Kipnis, INF (NON-ROSTER) 
28 Kyle Hendricks, P 
29 Trevor Megill, P 
30 Alec Mills, P
32 Tyler Chatwood, P  
33 Daniel Descalso, INF   
34 Jon Lester, P 
36 Dillon Maples, P 
38 Brad Wieck, P 
39 Danny Hultzen, P (NON-ROSTER) 
40 Willson Contreras, C 
40 Rick Sutcliffe, GUEST INSTRUCTOR 
41 Hernan Perez, INF-OF (NON-ROSTER)  
43 Dan Winkler, P 
44 Anthony Rizzo, 1B 
45 Jharel Cotton, P 
46 Craig Kimbrel, P  
46 Ryan Dempster, GUEST INSTRUCTOR
48 Rex Brothers, P (NON-ROSTER)  
50 Rowan Wick, P  
51 Duane Underwood Jr, P  
52 Ryan Tepera, P   
54 Chris Young, BULLPEN COACH  
56 Kyle Ryan, P 
57 James Norwood, P  
59 Tyler Olson, P (NON-ROSTER) 
60 Jason Adam, P (NON-ROSTER)
61 Carlos Asuaje, INF (NON-ROSTER) 
62 Jose Quintana, P 
64 C. D. Pelham, P (NON-ROSTER)  
65 Casey Sadler, P 
66 Noel Cuevas, OF (NON-ROSTER) 
67 Ben Taylor, P (NON-ROSTER) 
68 Tommy Hottovy, PITCHING COACH  
71 Oscar de la Cruz, P (NON-ROSTER) 
72 Tyson Miller, P
73 Adbert Alzolay, P 
74 Justin Steele, P  
75 Miguel Amaya, C
76 Zack Short, INF   
77 Manuel Rodriguez, P 
78 Wyatt Short, P (NON-ROSTER)
79 Ian Miller, OF (NON-ROSTER)   
82 Jhonny Pereda, C (NON-ROSTER) 
84 Caleb Simpson, P (NON-ROSTER)
85 Trent Giambrone, INF-OF (NON-ROSTER) 
86 P. J. Higgins, C-INF (NON-ROSTER)
87 Brock Stewart, P (NON-ROSTER) 
88 Corban Joseph, INF (NON-ROSTER)
89 Dakota Mekkes, P (NON-ROSTER)  
99 Anthony Iapoce, HITTING COACH 


pitchers and catchers report in 3 days (tuesday 11th)...position players on the 16th.

so far it seems the entire pre-season plan is to see what rises to the top out of the huge pile of trash they've assembled to compete for 1 starting spot, a slew of pen slots, and a roaming crew of part-time-plus IF/OF's.

hopefully some rough gems get polished enough to make this cheap-out build worth it.

ex-cub for a half season (2002) angel echevarria has died at age 48.

he had been feeling ill for days and had a fall where he hit his head.  he went into the hospital shorty afterwards.  there's no official cause of death, though.

wrigley field concerts are now up to 8 concert nights over 7 tours (dead and co playing 2 nights in a row).

there's going to be 3 in a row july 24-26.  august 28-29 are 2 in a row gigs.

hopefully the field won't suffer too much.

At least we know the Ricketts might have a few extra pennies to spend. Maybe we can resign Descalso.

cubs will have 4 days (Mon-Thur) for the field to recover for an afternoon game after the 3-day july concert stretch.

they will have 1 day for the field to recover for a night game afte rthe 2-day august concerts.

Next up: Cubs play Ravinia.  Musical interludes between innings and walk-up music by John Williams conducting the CSO.

Anything to make money and help trump with his re-election.


straight up wtf?  who's thinking up this circus ass stuff?

the diultion of the post-season by letting half the f'n league into it (yes, other sports do it and i think it's too much there, too)...and most of the rest of it is just too stupid to comment on.  i get it, but hahah no.  just no.  whatever.

No. All series must be seven games. Baseball is not a game where good teams dominate, so a  short  series is just a roll of the dice. tAnd the whole should end before Halloween.

"Free agent right-hander Taijuan Walker is throwing in Cubs' camp on Monday. "

oh yeah, that dude throwing 85mph during his last public workout who's coming off surgery.  let's throw money at that.

if he does sign, bradsbeard called this one back in december during one of the various "i wonder what injured dude the cubs might sign" post threads.

Yeah I'm still annoyed we didn't give Graveman a shot. A little less so Smyly.

At least Walker might actually pitch this year?

walker throwing for the M's today...hopefully they see something they like and can outbid the cubs.  it should be easy since the cubs seem to be hiring guys with camel cash and canadian tire money.

M's sign him 1/2m

I would have liked to give him a shot. I don't see much more out of a Chatwood and Alec Mills competition for the 5th spot.

darvish, lester, and mills could combine to give up 100 homers between the 3 of them.

Q could be subbed in for any of those too

cubs to sign jason kipnis...because they love trash more than oscar the f'n grouch.

he's gotta limp through not failing a physical first...as if that matters.

I would have preferred Gennett. At least he has been good recently other than last year. Kipnis hasnt been good since 2016.

A pseudo-platoon at 2B with Kipnis/Bote would be rough - hard to believe just how bad Bote struggled against lefties last year.  

i wouldnt put him in a MLB uniform just yet.  the guy might end up in AAA or cut if he's not good enough this spring.  the pool for his services is supposedly really shallow.

Perhaps they're bringing him to prop up Descalso ... and end up a dead heat of suck

this offseason sure has been something.

in 2019 they cancelled themselves out of the playoffs by spectacularly falling on their face in the last 2 weeks of the season, going 2-10 (including a 9L in a row performance).

...and this is the 2020 regrouping.

i mean, this is still a hell of a crew and i'm expecting a team that can compete for a playoff spot, but i think even the most pessimistic was expecting a bit more.

j.kipnis signs a minor leage deal with invite to spring training.

he'll get 1m + incentives.

Probably an upgrade over Descalso, but not clearing that very low bar by very much.

Jason Kipnis (like Brandon Morrow) was a post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a 2020 minor league contract, so he gets a $100K retention bonus and an automatic June 1st player opt-out if he is not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB 40-man roster or MLB 60-day IL by 12 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day. 

BA ranks Cubs system @22.

LHP Brailyn Marquez (37), SS/OF Nico Hoerner (40), OF Brennen Davis (94)

Skinny: Towering lefty Brailyn Marquez took as big of a jump as any pitcher in the minors and has drawn comparisons to both Aroldis Chapman and David Price. Nico Hoerner got a taste of the big leagues, too. The system still has a ways to go to return to prominence, however.

Increasing levels of smoke concerning a possible Arenado/KB trade


Get Arenado to agree to push back his opt out a few years or so down the road and this could work out nicely for the Cubs

mark grace returns to chicago as an analyst/on-air-talent for Marquee.

he won't be part of the main game calling crew, but will be doing support content during games.

Replacing someone like David DeJesus?

"Buster Olney of ESPN reports that Scott Kazmir will throw for MLB teams this week.

The 36-year-old Kazmir hasn't thrown in the majors since the 2016 season, but he recently told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he that he hit 90.9 mph with his fastball during a bullpen session."

someone put another bottle of left-in-the-car warm water under the cubs hot stove and let's get this one done!  woo!


Just sign Rick Reuschel and lets move on

"Kris Bryant expects to remain with the Cubs in 2020 after a sit-down with team president Theo Epstein.

"Everything went great," Bryant told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was the best meeting I had with a superior. He just gave me insight as to what kind of happened in the offseason." The star third baseman did later add that Epstein gave him no assurances that he will be kept in the loop if further trade talks were to arise, before stating, "I’m a Chicago Cub.""

Per Bruce Levine, Kris Bryant will be leading off for the Cubs.

that should be good for 175Ks, 30 homers, 30 doubles, 60-70 RBI...

wonder who the #2 they're looking at...hopefully rizzo and not heyward.

bryant/rizzo/baez/schwarber/contreras would be a hell of a 1-5.

That would be a hell of a 1-5. The problem comes from 6-8 being a combination of Heyward, Bote/ Kipnis/ Descalso, and Happ/ Almora.

Bote was a little better than league average with the bat last year and Happ has never been worse than league average with the bat over a full season in the majors. Not too bad at the end of your lineup (though neither is helping out too much on defense). Heyward could end up the #8 if things break OK for Bote and Happ at the plate.

huge bote fan over here, and i think he's one of the best longterm investments the cubs have gambled on.  cubs have control over him through 2026 if they exercise both his options (both 7.6m).

i'd like to see him penciled in as the main regular at 2nd, but overall i just wanna see him play more than he was late last year when he was red hot.  if bryant flames out with the glove at 3rd (clock is ticking on that) we might see bote at 3rd a bit.

i'm not expecting all-star teams and seeing a slew of bote jerseys in the stands, but i like his chances of being a consistent above average player with the bat and glove.

I'd like to see Bote not get owned by lefties. Not sure what it is about his stroke that's hurting him - struggles against offspeed in general?

I think it was likely just a small sample size luxuation against LHP last year. His splits were essentially swapped from 2018 to 2019. For his career he's been a little above average against both sides, or essentially no significant split. I'd expect him to hit LHP better than RHP going forward though. 

someone else may have noticed or written something about a possible issue with lefties last year (aside from the obvious disappointing numbers), but i didn't see anything that made him look lost vs them.

myself, i'm not expecting the hard time vs lefties to keep happening (though i can't point to why 2019 wasn't good for him and i may be missing something).  also, how well he handled righties has me a bit pumped about his future.

Bote, for the moment, is adequate. Very unsold on the 2 LH hitting 2B options.

I have never seen it for Happ. I'd love for him to prove me wrong but I dont see it happening.

Happ has been an above average hitter every season he's been in the majors, and he killed it in his brief return from the minors last year (with better contact and lower K rates to boot). Aside from an extended period with the lower K rates, what else are you not seeing?

Extended period of good hitting? Not striking out at deeply inopportune times? Some baseball IQ in regard to situational hitting?

I think I also just hate his swing. It's so long and loopy.

Hey, if you hate the swing there's probably nothing I can say to change your mind. I personally think it's one of the nicer looking ones on the team. 

As far as an extended period of good hitting, he had an awful second half in 2018, but through the first half of 2018 he had hit .254/.349/.490 (117 wRC+) in 693 career PAs. That's pretty darn good for over a year's worth of PAs, especially for a CF. 
Then he came back from a half year working on things in Iowa and hit .264/.333/.564 (127 wRC+) over 156 PAs. He's been a lot more good than bad in his time in the majors. 

He has struck out too often in general (though less in 2019), but with runners in scoring position he has hit .268/.387/.473 (116 wRC+) in his career, so that's really good too. He's even hit .329/.409/.582 (156 wRC+) in high leverage situations in his career. 

I'll admit he has his faults, but considering he's still only 25 and has put up a solid career line of .246/.340/.476 (112 wRC+), I'd say he is a guy we should be much more optimistic about. 

I think proving the K rate wasn't a fluke would go a long way toward convincing me. 

I think he's going to strike out over 25% of the time, but he's shown that he can be an above average overall hitter even if he's only batting .230-.250.

I'm also not a big fan of the swing, and I'd be very skeptical of him if the ball is deadened. Stats suggest he'd benefit from a true platoon despite being a switch hitter. Sure would be nice if Almora could hold up the other end competently.

I'm not ready to write him off from the right side just yet. One of the things I believe about Happ is that switch hitters in general just take longer to establish themselves as hitters due to having to develop and maintain two separate swings. Given that he sees fewer lefties, you kind of have to give him a little more leeway to develop there I think. 

That said, Happ wasnt awful from the right side last year (was better than Almora at least).  His wRC+ from the right side has been 98, 69, and then 96. Obviously he was a wreck in the second half of 2018. But maybe he has at least adjusted somewhat to what the league was doing to him.  

That's fair. And  the discussion would be different if Almora were heads and shoulders above Happ defensively, which seems (surprisingly) not to be the case.

Re: 6-8, w/ JHey in the 6 hole there are a lot of interesting things that can happen 7-9. You have the 2B slot, Happ (CF), & P slot.  Happ is a Switch hitter (though admittedly better LHH), roster looks to be long on 2B options from both sides (quality issues TBD, but promising IMHO), & a slot you with pinch hit for at least x2/gm. Lots of dbl switch possibilities (w/o jacking up the rest of your lineup)

That creates some brutal match up decisions for the opposing mgr right before recycling back to Bryzzo. 

Hopefully KB has worked on his base sliding technique - believe he jacked his knee up last year because of some rough "landings" on the basepaths. He definitely should shine in the role - and provided KB is not traded - Cubs can only go up from their leadoff hitter ranking from last year. 

C/1B Alberto Mineo (25) has re-signed with the Cubs organization according to: https://www.mister-baseball.com/alberto-mineo-mino...

Kelly C. to the Braves. Damn it.

I didn't realize until today that the new network will be broadcasting almost every spring training game. Just a heads up for anyone else expecting the usual 4-6 broadcasts.

more spring news...

i.happ expected to primarily play CF this spring.  rizzo expected to primarily hit 2nd going into the season.

tomorrow's game has been moved to 6:10 MST (7:10 central) because of a threat of bad weather...sweet.

Ok, so what time will Marque go on the air ways?

1pm central

there's still people figuring out if they actually will have the channel or not...it's been a weird mess.  don't think comcast is on board yet and directv just slid in under the deadline with a deal to carry it.  hulu has the channel, but supposedly they're not going to start carrying it for weeks.

as an aside, i hope the cubs actually plan on showing most ST games going forward in years to come rather than this being some money-grab leverage to force cable/sat/streaming provider's hand.  seeing almost all the ST games would be nice, even the nearly meaningless early ones.

I have Direct TV. I called them today., asked what was the channel #?They didn't know. 

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales
From Cubs:  Marquee available in Chicago area through following providers:
DIRECTV (channel 664); AT&T U-verse in SD (channel 740) and HD (channel 1740); RCN (channels 377 and 679 (HD))
MetroNet (channel 29); TVision (channel 100). Iowa’s Mediacom (Ch. 51; 768/668 in HD)

For anyone hoping to watch the Marquee Network this spring:  I'll be signing up for a free week of AT&T TV NOW (streaming service) on Sunday morning: https://www.atttvnow.com/accounts/select-plan - Marquee Network will be replaying Saturday's Spring Training opener at 7am Central and will have the Sunday game at 2pm: https://www.marqueesportsnetwork.com/schedule/febr.... Hopefully, Hulu Live TV+ will be active by next Sunday, when I can sign up for a free week of that: https://www.hulu.com/welcome! Fingers crossed that someone else signs a carriage agreement by then so I can either watch it at home (WOW TV) or at a local bar (Comcast)!

cubs moving the game up was a wise choice unless the rain lingers very long.  everyone else in ARZ is rained out except LA/SF which starts in 4 hours (cubs in 7 hours)...and that LA/SF game still might get rained out because other games in that time slot have been cancelled/postponed (though they posted a lineup for today's game on twitter 10 minutes ago).

speaking of LA, m.betts makes his debut tomorrow vs CHC.

CRUNCH: It's still drizzling in Mesa but it's clearing to the southwest (which is where the rain came from) so the Cubs should have at least three hours to get the field ready. The infield is covered, so it's just the outfield that will be wet. 

cubs coming out big for their marquee network debut lineup...

bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward / contreras / kipnis / souza (LF) / bote (DH) / almora...mills pitching

d.ross got sent home with flu-like symptoms, andy green managing...

really not a big fan of the marquee network's score bug graphic location.

I also hope they edit it for the season. doesn't list pitcher or hitter or pitches thrown.

"i'm feeling right at home." - mark grace

hell of a 1st game.  even the good and bad mean nothing this early in spring, but it was a nice one.  i'm not worried about rizzo misplaying a couple balls in the first innings, nor do i think bote is on his way to a batting title.  spring is meaningless enough without trying to read into february spring games.  it was a fun watch, though.

my biggest regret is not seeing souza chase down any plays in LF while he was in the game.  that's something i really would like to see this early in spring.

I know most of you saw the game or will be seeing the game, but for anyone else who might be interested, here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings from Saturday night's game: 

Alec Mills: 
FB: 90-92 
CH: 82-83 
SL: 80-81 
CV: 68 
NOTES: Nice mix of pitches... Mills obviously comes from the "I'm a pitcher not a thrower" school, all of which means command & control matters a lot and he had both tonight... a legit candidate for the Cubs #5 SP slot... 

Jharel Cotton: 
FB: 93-94 
CV: 75-78  
CH: 77 
NOTES: Looked very good considering he hasn't pitched much the last couple of years..

Rex Brothers: 
FB: 92-94 T-95-96 
SL: 86-88 
CH: 88-89 
NOTES: Looked very good with plus velo on both the FB anf SL and he threw strikes... if he can keep it up going forward Brothers could be a Spring Training bullpen surprise... 

Duane Underwood Jr: 
FB: 93-95 
SL/CV?: 82-85 
NOTES: Underwood threw strikes with good FB velo and a solid breaking ball... he is definitely in the Opening Day bullpen mix going forward, especially cuz he out of minor league options...  

James Norwood: 
FB: 96-99 
SL: 87-88 
NOTES: IF he could just command his SL he could take the next step to high-value MLB reliever, because his FB is nothing short of explosive...  I mean, 99 in his first outing of the Spring?!!!... c'mon man...  

Tyler Olson: 
FB: 85-88 
SL: 80-81 
CH: 80 
CV: 73-76 
NOTES: Threw from various arm angles... nothing to see here, folks... keep moving.,. BTW, I'm not even 100% sure what the slower pitch-types were... I guess "slop" is the best way to describe his array of "stuff"...  

Jason Adam: 
FB: 91-93 
CV: 75-76 
NOTES: Short-arms his pitches like a converted infielder or catcher and gets OK results with a reliable low 90's FB and equally reliable CV... nothing special... a bullpen default candidate only because Rowan Wick is a better version of Jason Adam...  

C. D. Pelham:  
FB: 93-95 
SL: 87 
NOTE: Threw FB for strikes with a smooth & effortless delivery... will need to develop an effective secondary pitch to compliment the FB but he looks a bit like Amir Garrett when he throws strikes... has long arms which means his release point is closer than normal to the hitter... 

Dakota Mekkes: 
FB: 91-94 T-95-96 
CV: 75-76 
NOTES> Best outing of the night by a Cub pitcher... worked fast and threw strikes and FB velo actually increased by 3-4 MPH as the inning wore-on...  

i forgot about these types of update posts...thanks for the breakdowns.  they're really useful.

strong agreement on the mess t.olson was throwing.  he didn't even look happy with himself out there.  

I'll just be here salivating over the possibility of observing a sub-70MPH curve ball. :)

Rooting for Mills in general. Seems like fun as a 5th starter.

Rooting for General Mills?

I just love cereal so much

ha.  also, this reminds me that Grand Slam cereal existed in the late 90s.  it was basically Kix with the marshmallows from Lucky Charms (in baseball items shape).  it was actually really good.

Don't forget the awesome taste of RizzO's !!!

Thanks Phil for these breakdowns. Really helpful.

Love those breakdowns Phil - thank you!

People tweeted about watching the Cubs game live here yesterday: http://yoursports.stream/mlb?v=MTQ5NzY2MDMw Might work for anyone on here who can't seem to get the game today.

Man this Dodger broadcast is garbage.

dusty baker + adam greenberg piece...


I like that they're trying Robel and Giambrone all over the diamond.

Yeah, both of those guys have some versatility. Could make a nice platoon if it ever came to that. 

kinda crazy a.russell is still a free agent.

he's not the first and probably not the last domestic abuser to "serve his time" and find contracts to sign.  there's a 20HR guy who plays great D at SS sitting out there while spring training is going down without him.

i wonder how much he's demanding (if that's an issue at all) vs teams that want no part of him...

He hit 20+ HR only once and that was four years ago. He has a career OBP of 312, a career SLG of 392, and is his SS defense really that special anymore?

he paced for 20+HR last year and might have done it if he wasn't on unpaid leave for a while.  i'd handicap him as a 15-20HR guy at worst rather than saying 20HR solid.  it's probably a safer range.

his D isn't up there with the all-time greats of the game, but it's well above average for a young guy (turned 26 last month) who can also provide some pop.  i think more than a few teams could slot him in as a middle IF starter without having much internal competition.

lester seems to be leaving off where he was for the last couple months of the season in 2019.

no one should take anything from a february spring training start...NONETHELESS...this outing looked a lot like the ones he spent in the last couple months of the season with batters sitting around waiting to swing at lester fastballs and laying off everything else.

1h 50min into the game and they're through 4 innings.

yesterday's game was 3h 45m.

3h 43m game today.

at least i've seen a lot of "i need to hop on baseball reference" cubs minor leaguers and new hires in the past 2 days.

rex brothers looked good again.

Most of the pitchers who threw today pitched Saturday night, so not a lot of new pitch/velo info. 

Jon Lester:  
FB: 86-89
SL: 85 
CH: 84
CV: 70-74 
NOTES: First Cactus League game outing of 2020 for Lester... looked uncomfortable on the mound and even when he was warming up in the bullpen before the game... stuff and command were not sharp... hopefully Lester has at least one good year left in him...  

Scott Effross: 
FB: 89-92 
CH: 80 
SL: 81-82 
NOTES: Finished Lester's second inning after Lester hit his pre-ordained pitch limit... began to throw sidearm late last season and in the AFL post-2019... remains to be seen how effective he will be with the new delivery... 

Duane Underwood Jr: 
FB 92-95 
SL/CT: 87-88 
CH: 86 
CV: 82-83 
NOTES: Struggled with his command today which was not the case on Saturday... when he struggles to throw strikes he gets into trouble in a hurry, so reliability and consistency are issues with him... 
James Norwood: 
FB: 96-98
SL: 88-90 
NOTES: FB velo was down just a bit from Saturday when he hit 99 but he still can't command the SL so hitters can just sit on his FB... 

Jason Adam: 
FB: 92-95
CH: 86-89 
CV: 77-80 
NOTES: Adam is a reliable middle-reliever type... stuff is good but not special, but his FB velo was up a couple of ticks today over what is was on Saturday... Like Rowan Wick, Adam likes to use his CV a lot to offset his FB and he generally gets decent results with that approach... 

Rex Brothers: 
FB: 95 
SL: 88-89
CH: 85-88 
NOTES: Continues to surprise & impress with high-velo stuff... FB velo did not fluctuate even one MPH during the course of his inning (constant 95), and his secondaries were all upper 80's....  biggest question for me about Brothers coming into ST was his control, but he has shown very good command so far in both outings...

Tyson Miller:
FB: 90-92 
SL: 83-84
CH: 80 
CV: 77-79 
NOTE: Showing off a SP repertoire in one inning of work doesn't do justice to his stuff, because he has a wide array of pitches and his command is pretty good.... FB is OK but not great and likewise with the rest of his stuff, but all-in-all and in total it's probably good enough for him to eventually be an MLB BOR SP...  

C. D. Pelham:
FB: 92-95
CH: 83-86 
SL: 81-84
NOTE: It's obvious Pelham is a project... he can't command his secondaries and even his FB command comes & goes (although velo is good)... fortunately for the Cubs he is not eligible to be a minor league 6YFA until post-2021, so there is still plenty of time for him to develop...  

Dakota Mekkes:
FB: 90-94 
SL: 81-84 
CH: 80-81 
CV: 76-77  
NIOTES: Like most of the Cubs pitchers today, Mekkes labored through his one inning of work... he mixed his pitches very well with good velo separation (even his FB had a 5 MPH variance), but he had command issues with all of his pitches except the slow CV... FB velo was down a bit from Saturday and it sat at 90-91 the last couple of hitters... 

I love these scouting reports. Thanks Phil!

You wouldn't happen to have this info for the road games Sun and Mon?

DJL: Nothing from Sunday or Monday. 

Whatever happened to Mark Zagunis? I thought we still held his rights, but he was just out of options? Haven't heard anything about him in awhile & I think he would make a good platoon partner with Schwarber.

W-RAT: Mark Zagunis is assigned to AAA Iowa but he did not get an NRI to MLB Spring Training. He is eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020 World Series if he is not added back to an MLB reserve list (40-man roster) in the meantime. 

Thank you AZ Phil! Does that mean he's been signed to a minor league contract, then? Because he's out of options.

Zagunis's stock has dropped a lot since his first exposure to MLB pitching. His 2019 at AAA is particularly alarming given the power spike in that league.

W-RAT: Mark Zagunis was sent outright to the minors last September, and because he did not have the right to elect free-agency after being outrighted he remains under club control through the 2020 season, and so he is signed to a minor league contract that expires at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the conclusion of the 2020 World Series. 

I see that Dillon Maples hasn't pitched yet. Is he injured or spending time in the lab?

Hot take: The Cubs should be considering PJ Higgins as the potential 26th man. 3rd catcher / infield sub who can put the bat on the ball.

I think I'm just stealing an AZ Phil projection from a while ago, actually. But it makes sense!

I really like this idea. They've talked of a 3rd catcher as 26th meaning Phegley, who seems a waste of roster space, good spring notwithstanding. Higgins is far more interesting 

He'll be 27 in May and he's played in 36 games at AAA. Seems like he should be playing regularly. 

This is the take if you see him as a legit prospect. Which, maybe? I know little about him, and his numbers in limited AAA exposure last season were really nice. Maybe a lively ball helps his career.

He's at a career juncture where I think he is a toss up of he is who he is or there's a little more left for him to achieve. Playing this as his age 27 season he is either in or damn close to his peak. I personally think he doesn't need the everyday playing time, just based on the fact that he's not a top prospect, is older, and doesn't project to be a starter at any spot for a first division team.

He's better than Taylor Davis.


No argument there. Plays an excellent violin though.


For those of you who didn't see the game, here are the pitch-velo readings from Wednsdays Cubs - Royals game: 

Kyle Hendricks: 
FB: 84-87 
CH: 77-80 
CV: 78-80
NOTES: An amazing pitcher... he's probably in mid-season form right now...  just needs to gradually increase innings...   

Alec Mills: 
FB: 89-92 
SL: 80-82 
CH: 77-80 
CV: 66-70 
NOTES: A legit candidate to be the 5th starter 

Kyle Ryan
FB: 88-89 
CT: 84-87 
NOTES: Doesn't need to throw a lot of different types of pitches when the ones he throws have plus movement and generate weak contact ground balls... K. Ryan should be able to survive the Brave New World of the Three Batter Minimum because he is an extreme ground ball pitcher...  

Jharel Cotton:
FB: 92-93 
SL: 86-88 
CH: 75-77 
CV: 76 
NOTES: Quality stuff with a SP repertoire... if he can get stretched out as a SP (and stay healthy) at Iowa he could be in the Cubs starting rotation by mid-season... 

Trevor Megill
FB: 95-97 
SL: 85 
CH: 81 
NOTES: 6'8 load with an explosive big-time high-velo FB but with somewhat raw secondary stuff... really likes to lean on the heater... probably near-MLB ready but he's a Rule 5 Draft pick and so you might think the Cubs can just work out a trade with SD so they can keep him and send him to Iowa, except he would probably get claimed off waivers by a non-contending club before a trade with the Padres can happen... 
Ben Taylor: 
FB: 91-93 - T 94-95 
SL: 85-87 
CH: 83-85 
NOTES: Journeyman middle-reliever type with decent and reliable (though not exceptional) stuff...  

Oscar  de la Cruz
FB: 92-94 - T 95-96 
CH: 87-88
CV: 77-80 
NOTES: Has a SP repertoire but throws too many pitches-per-inning to be a starter, although he could be a multi-inning RP... command continues to be elusive, but his stuff is plus across-the-board if he can ever manage to harness it... 

AZ Phil, the "work out a trade" part of Rule 5 is still a mystery to me. Do the Cubs have to put Megill through waivers and (if he clears) offer him back to SD before they can trade for him?

BRADSBEARD: Before making a trade with the Rule 5 Draft pick's former club, the drafting club must first place the player on Outright Assignment Waivers and any of the other MLB clubs can claim the player for the $50,000 waiver price and assume the Rule 5 Draft obligations (actually it's Rule 6 Selected Player obligations, but you know what I mean). 

If the player is not claimed off Outright Assignment Waivers and waivers have been secured, the player then must be offered back to the club from which the player was drafted. That club can then either re-claim the player for $50,000 (half the Rule 5 Draft price) and the player is automatically sent outright to the minor league affiliate from which he was drafted, or the club from which the player was drafted can decline to re-claim the player and keep the entire $100K draft price. 

If the Rule 5 Draft pick is not claimed off Outright Assignment Waivers and if the club from which the player was drafted declines to re-claim, then Rule 6 Selected Player restrictions are removed and the club that selected the player in the Rule 5 Draft is free to keep the player on its MLB active list, send the player to the minors by Outright or Optional Assignment, or the player could be released. 

But in order to entice the club from which the player was drafted to decline its right to re-claim, it is sometimes necessary for the drafting club to trade a player or players, a tradeable draft pick (like a Competitive Balance draft pick), ISBP space (which can be traded only in increments of $250K unless the club is trading it's entire remaining ISBP), and/or cash to the club from which the player was drafted.  

Sounds like a long shot to get a trade done then. Thanks for clarifying!

n.arenado continues to go very hard on COL front office.  he's careful not to turn on the fans, but he's burning the hell out of every other bridge to the point they may trade him just to not hear about it too much longer.  he's not shy at all about airing it out for the media.

if the cubs want him, it will most likely take more than just k.bryant.


Has he gone so far as calling the Rox front office namby-pambies yet?  There's only so much a front office can take before it snaps. 

Shouldn't it take less than Bryant, given Arenado's opt out? I guess the Rockies could be asking for more, but it wouldn't make sense.

if bryant wasn't looking less and less like a 3rd baseman, it would probably be an even or less trade given the cost difference between the 2 guys.  it's not been so slick the past couple years for bryant with the glove meanwhile arenado does nothing but win gold gloves.

bryant has 2 years of club control and arenado can opt out after 2021.

that said, i dunno if the cubs have the $$ space to take on a $35m/yr contract with or without the risk of him opting out.

A healthy Bryant is the better player. Unfortunately, KB hasn't been healthy the past two years.

With Bryant earning just over half of what Arenado is making this year, I think every team in the league would take that gamble. Also, Arenado at home has a 130 wRC+ and only a 109 wRC+ away (across his whole career).

cubs night game baseball and it's not even april yet...loving the extended spring training broadcast schedule and i hope they keep it up in following years.

bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward(RF) / contreras / kipnis(2nd) / almora / descalso(DH) / ian milller(LF) ...chatwood pitching vs zach davies

SD is fielding a mostly A-List team, too...tatis, machado, hosmer, myers, etc

"Ross learning how different spring is as manager"


ross musing on some of his approaches and player use plans for this spring

They probably won't all get added, but as things stand right now the Cubs NRI with realistic shots to get added to the 40 (and to the MLB 26-man active list) by Opening Day are 2B Jason Kipnis (likely 2B platoon with Bote), LHRP Rex Brothers (2nd lefty in the pen), C Josh Phegley (if Cubs want to carry a 3rd catcher so that Contreras and Caratini can be used more liberally off the bench), INF-OF Hernan Perez (can play everywhere including SS), and/or OF Ian Miller (speedy PR and 5th OF).  

Kipnis, Phegley, and H. Perez have Article XIX-A status (and Phegley and H. Perez are also out of minor league options) so they can't be sent to the minors without their consent once added to the 40 and they are not likely to give their consent, either), but both Brothers and Miller have minor league options left so once added to the 40 they can be optioned to Iowa if need be (although Brothers will reach Article XIX-A status if he accrues at least 81 days of MLB Service Time, and at that point the Cubs will probably not be able to send him to Iowa). 

phegley had a very impressive day with the glove/arm at 3rd yesterday.  that had to help his cause.

he had one impressive play where the umpire ruled the throw took the 1st baseman off the bag, but if they were doing replay it would have been recorded as an out.  it's spring for umps, too.  he also had a very impressive no-glove pick and throw to 1st for an out later on.

That would have been Higgins, right?

yes.  my bad.  thanks.

i got my multi-purpose C mixed up.

1st pitch HR...welcome to spring darvish.

another darvish HR...no wait, no...

nevermind, that was alzolay with the other HR...  i'm going to stop trying to ID people while passively watching games for the rest of the day.  i'm not having a good one.

Pay attention.

what?  huh?  hold on.  wait.  what?  okay.  wait.  what?


hey guys, brandon morrow tore his calf (not major).

he's expected to sit for a couple weeks before getting back into activity.  so basically, he'll be starting spring training over from scratch while going slow as to not re-injure himself.

For those of you who did not see today's Cubs - Brewers game, here are the Cubs pitchers velo readings  

Yu Darvish 
FB: 95-98 
CT: 92-94 
CH: 86-88 
SL: 82-84 
NOTES: Plus-FB velo in his first game outing of Spring Training and he held the velo through both innings of work... threw wide-array of pitches for strikes... other than the first-pitch lead-off HR, it looks like he has picked-up right where he left-off at the end of last season... no question Yu is the Cubs ace... 

Adbert Alzolay 
FB: 92-95 - T 96
CH: 81-83 
CV: 79-80 
NOTES: Not sure what's wrong here.. Stuff is good and he's healthy but hitters seem to be squaring up his FB (which has good velo)... I wonder if he might be tipping his pitches? 

Rowan Wick 
FB: 93-95
CV: 78
NOTES: Much better outing than his first one... I suppose it would appear that an Opening Day bullpen job is Wick's to lose, but he is only marginally better than Adam and Taylor, I'm not sure he's as good as Winkler or Tepera, Underwood and Sadler are out of minor league options, and Megill is a Rule 5 draft pick... these bullpen-sorting roster decisions will probably go down to the wire...     

Duane Underwood Jr 
FB: 95-96 
CT/SL: 87-88 
CV: 82-84 
NOTES: We got the "good" Dunderwood today... it will be interesting to see if being out of minor league options will give him a leg-up on the other RH bullpen candidates (of which there are many).,.. 

Ben Taylor  
FB: 90- 93 
SL: 82-86 
NOTES: Journeyman RH middle-reliever with decent (but not exceptional) stuff...   

C. D. Pelham 
FB: 93-95 
SL: 83 
NOTES: Threw only one SL (which was nowhere near home plate), and every other pitch was a FB (which is the one pitch he can command)... I suspect he might start the regular season at Extended Spring Training and spend a lot of time in the Pitch Lab... 

Dalota Mekkes
FB: 92-95 
CV: 76-79 
NOTES: A fine outing with the better FB velo he showed last Saturday (that was missing on Tuesday)...

addison russell's BP Annual book blurb came out swinging (no pun)


this started last year, with a more detailed explaination of their views.  it seems it's not worth their time to repeat themselves.


he's still a FA.  a guy who can play 2nd/SS well above average, 26 years old, and can hit for decent power for a middle IF'r is sitting at home without a job.  i'm sure someone will give him a minor league deal eventually, but wow we live in a new era of accountability...well, a better one.

in a bit of sideshow keeping an eye on k.bryant and possible trades (which seems unlikely currently)...

WAS has t.turner penciled in for SS and s.castro at 2nd.  they're trying to make c.kieboom stick at 3rd (middle IF by trade) and he's not adjusting well so far.  a.cabrera is their "plan b" and that's not a good plan b.

so, i guess keep an eye on that situation if anyone is still thinking bryant might not be here come opening day.

myself, i don't see something like this happening unless a strong bat suddenly appears out of the mix of 3rd base-capable guys in camp and i'm not counting on that even if the strong bat doesn't have to have bryant's power considering the power lineup already on this team.  c.kieboom would be a hell of a pickup, but he's not a guy you can count on for 100% MLB-ready production in 2020 and it's not like the cubs can take that $$ savings and pour it into an existing impact FA or someone looking to dump payroll on a quality bat.

Phil, is March 1 report day for the minor leaguers? Also is Dillon Maples injured or in the lab? Thanks.

HAGSAG: Dillon Maples threw a bullpen last week and he's supposed to throw "live" BP sometime in the next day or two. I don't know the reason behind the delay. 

lester fielded a comebacker and successfully underhand tossed the ball to 1st without "walking" too much before throwing...and it wasn't a slow arching off-target rainbow of a toss.  he looked like he actually played the game beyond little league on that play.

players still taking huge leads once on base...and contreras can still throw the hell out of a baseball to punish them (two CS on two baserunners today, though the 2nd one would have been overturned on replay if available...both still great throws).

descalo's 1st spring hit is a slow bouncing infield hit to the right of the SS that had a runner going from 2nd to 3rd further slowing the play.  at least he's finally created a stat that isn't a circle.

I think the last time he actually mashed a ball must've been in 2018. I haven't seen it with the Cubs yet. :(

Descalso hitting leadoff tonite and currently 0-3 with 3 Ks, .071 avg

Can't imagine he'd make the 26 man roster if he doesn't start to show a pulse. 

Crunch, want to buy my Descalso bobblehead?

i dont want to risk purchasing and having the real human version show up at my house.

nice try, cubs front office troll.  you're stuck with him.

cubs relief prospect manuel rodriguez's injury is being called "right biceps discomfort" after being pulled after throwing a wild one and clutching his arm.

Hope he's okay but have to say that he has a very aggressive delivery.  It's a consistent 95 on the fastball but not an efortless one.....

For those of you who did not see today's Cubs - Mariners game, here are the Cubs pitchers velo reports... 

Jon Lester
FB: 89-91 - T 92 
CT: 85-88
CH: 81-83 
CV: 66-76 
NOTE: Much more like the Jon Lester we have come to know... three outstanding innings where he faced just the minimum nine batters, although he was helped by two Contreras CS... showed significantly better FB velo today than he did in his first outing, and better command, and he looked more comfortable, too...  

Kyle Ryan
FB: 85-90 
CV: 78-79 
NOTES: Ryan's outings are very consistent... he is an extreme ground ball pitcher... 

Trever Megill
FB: 94-97 
SL: 85-87 
CV: 79-80
NOTES: Even though there are Rule 5 Draft issues involved that will impact whether or nor he gets an Opening Day slot in the Cubs pen, Megill actually has the stuff to be a legit MLB reliever in 2020 even if he hadn't been selected in the Rule 5 Draft... if he isn't 100% MLB-ready right now, he is very close...   

Manuel Rodriguez 
FB: 96-97 
CH: 87 
SL: 83 
NOTES: Left game with what appeared to be a right arm injury after throwing his first slider of the day... prior to that he displayed plus FB velo... 

Jake Stinnett
FB: 91-94 
CH: 86 
SL: 83 
NOTES: Finished M-Rod's inning... stuff is OK but nothing special... he will be a minor league 6YFA post-2020 and he has yet to reach AAA, so the clock is ticking on the 2014 2nd round pick...  

Wyatt Short
FB: 92-94
SL: 82-84 
CV: 79
NOTES: An OK lefty reliever who needs to establish himself in AAA in 2020...  

Caleb Simpson
FB: 95-98 
CT: 91-93 
SL: 84-86 
NOTES: 28-year old power arm throws high-octane gas and a swing & miss slider... command needs work, however... Cubs signed him as a minor league 6YFA post-2019... he was a AA closer for Giants in 2019 so he needs to establish himself in AAA in 2020... missed all of two seasons and parts of two others very early in his pro career with a back injury (2013), then elbow surgery (2014), then TJS (2015-16), but he is healthy now... 

Oscar de la Cruz 
FB: 93-96
CH: 89-90
CV: 79-80
NOTES: The stuff is there... he just needs to find consistent command...  

Even those of us who can see the games (as I can) do not get radar gun readings on the Marquee broadcast, so these posts are much appreciated. 

Looking both fresh and rusty, Kendall Graveman (who spent the 2019 season at the Cubs UA Performance Center in Mesa rehabbing from 2018 TJS before having his 2020 $3.5M club option declined by the Cubs) got the start for the Mariners and was pumping a 94-96 FB, a 91-93 sinker, a mid-80's CH, and a low 80's SL through his two innings of work... still not exactly sure why the Cubs declined the option, but I suppose they must have had a good reason?      

Couldnt afford that bill!

j.cotton 640K, d.winkler 750K, j.jeffress 850K, r.tepera 900K, s.souza 1m.

that's the cubs 4.14m off-season.

Even with their frugal off-season the Cubs are still about $4M over the CBT threshold, and they will go over at least a million or two more once one or more of the NRI (Kipnis, Brothers, H. Perez, Phegley, and/or Miller) are added to the 40. The Cubs will also need an extra $2M or so in payroll to cover the difference between minor league & MLB split salaries for temporary injury replacements recalled from the minors during the course of the season. And that's presuming the Cubs don't add any payroll at the trade deadline. 

In retrospect, if the Cubs had not picked up Jose Quintana's $10.5M club option but instead picked up Kendall Graveman's $3.5M club option, they would have saved $8M in 2020 payroll, and that would mean they would be $4M under the CBT threshold right now instead of $4M over. 

I suspect the Cubs Master Plan post-2019 was to trade Kris Bryant and get back at least one MLB-ready young SP in the deal, then trade Quintana, and then sign Javy Baez to a contract extension, but the delay in the Bryant grievance put a crimp in that plan, and so now they're stuck with Quintana and are $4M over the CBT threshold, and they don't have the payroll space they feel they would need to sign Baez long-term.  

Chatwood is due $13M this season and will be a free agent at its conclusion.  Perhaps he gets moved to get under the luxury tax. 

Got dang that is frustrating.

Expect the first "batch cut" (15-18 players) from Cubs MLB Camp next Monday (3/9), which is the day off after the Las Vegas trip and the two split squad days (Saturday & Sunday).

"Draft-Excluded Players" (Amaya, T. Miller, M. Rodriguez, and Z. Short) cannot be sent to the minors any earlier than this coming Friday (3/6), and Rule 5 Draft picks cannot be placed on waivers any earlier than this coming Friday and cannot be sent outright to the minors any earlier than Wednesday 3/11.  

Keep in mind that if a Rule 5 Draft pick is re-claimed by his former club, the player - MUST - be sent outright to the minor league affiliate from which he was selected. So if the Cubs were to re-claim Vimael Machin and/or Michael Rucker (the two guys they lost in the December 2018 Rule 5 Draft), they would be automatically assigned outright to AAA Iowa. 

OAK is giving v.machin a nice chunk of early playing time (21 PA)

he's doing well so far.

...of course la stella hits a HR vs the cubs to give ANA the lead (off j.cotton, btw).

they were being no-hit coming into the 6th, but now the cubs are down by 1.

Here are Cubs pitchers velo readings from today's Cubs - Angels game: 

Kyle Hendricks
FB: 86-87
SL: 80 
CH: 79-80
CV: 72-74 
NOTES: He's just Kyle Hendricks..  nothing more to be said... 

Jeremy Jeffress
FB: 93-95 
SL: 88-90 
CH: 81 
NOTES: Looks very sharp... hard-stuff (FB/SL) combo is very effective... 

Jharel Cotton
FB: 91-94 
SL/CT: 87-89 
CH: 77-80 
CV: 78-79
NOTES: Is beginning to get stretched-out so that he can be a SP at AAA Iowa... process will have to be completed at Minor League Camp... 

Juan Gamez
FB: 94-96 
SL: 84 
NOTES: Finished Cotton's second inning... a converted catcher (ex-MIN minor leaguer) who pitched in Mexico last season... features a FB/SL combo, but the SL needs work... 

Tyson Miller
FB: 89-91 
SL: 82-84 
CV: 80 
NOTES: Like Cotton, Miller is beginning to get stretched-out as a SP, with the process to be completed at Minor League Camp... Miller's only value will be as a SP (as opposed to a RP)... 

Craig Brooks 
FB: 91-93 
SL: 81-83 
NOTES: Short-arms the ball like an infielder (which he was before he became a pitcher)... uses the FB/SL combo very well and gets good results by off-setting the two pitches... otherwise stuff is just OK (nothing special)... needs to establish himself at AAA... 

How about Luis Verdugo getting into today's game and looking like he belonged against MLB pitchers? Pretty impressive.

Prior to today's Cubs - Angels game Anthony Rizzo and Tommy LaStella spent a good ten minutes having a very animated conversation with lots of laughter and back-slapping by the Angels bus in the alleyway outside the visitor's clubhouse beyond the LF bullpen.

Ex-Cubs Strength & Conditioning Coach Tim Buss (now with the Angels) was also part of the Old Home Week confab in the alley as Kris Bryant, Nico Hoerner, and Max Venable joined-in, and then several more Cubs stopped by to say hello as they headed toward the field on-board their golf cart transport.

And lots of hugs for Angels Manager Joe Maddon and 3rd base coach Brian Butterfield as they arrived, too.  

It felt a bit like a softball game at a family reunion.  

Because he was injured before he was optioned to the minors, RHRP Manuel Rodriguez cannot be optioned to the minors until he is healthy enough to play. And if he needs to go on an Injured List, it will have to be the MLB IL, where he will paid at the MLB rate and accrue MLB Service Time.  


While most injured players on an MLB 40-man roster can be outrighted to the minors only during a period of time beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until reserve lists are filed in November, an injured player on an MLB 40-man roster who has accrued less than three years of MLB Service Time in his career and who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season, has not previously been outrighted to the minors, and who was not selected in the immediately-preceding Rule 5 Draft, can be outrighted to the minors - EVEN IF HE IS INJURED - during a period of time beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until the 15th day prior to the start of the next MLB regular season. 

Justin Steele, LHP 

And, an injured player with Draft Excluded Status who otherwise would qualify to be outrighted during the off-season and Spring Training can be outrighted - EVEN IF HE IS INJURED - only during a five-day window starting on the 20th day prior to the start of the MLB regular season up until the 15th day prior to the start of the MLB regular season.

Miguel Amaya, C 
Tyson Miller, RHP 
Colin Rea, RHP 
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP 
Zack Short, INF 

So if Outright Assignment waivers were to be secured, Rodriguez could be sent outright to the minors during a window of time beginning this coming Friday (3/6) and extending until Wednesday 3/11. He can't be optioned to the minors, but he can be outrighted. 

That said, it's EXTREMELY unlikely that the Cubs would risk losing Rodriguez off Outright Assignment Waivers ($50,000 waiver price) just so he can't accrue MLB Service Time or so that the Cubs can avoid paying him at the 2020 MLB split salary rate ($563,500) rather than at the minor league split salary rate for players on an MLB 40-man roster for the first time ($46,000), but it is an option the Cubs have.  

But if it was a different Draft-Excluded Player with less of an upside (like Colin Rea), and if the injury was season-ending, the Cubs probably would take their chances and try to get him through waivers sometime before a week from Wednesday. And if he were to be claimed? No big deal. No great loss. 

$563,000 would help take the sting out of a major injury...

CRUNCH: The problem is that the difference between Rodriguez's $563,500 MLB split salary and his $46,000 minor league split salary jacks up the Cubs CBT threshold overage by $517,500 (if Rodriguez is placed on the Cubs MLB IL and he remains there for the entire season). 

b.wieck played catch/long-toss yesterday.

no timetable for his full activity return from cardiac ablation procedure known yet.

My hero Ben Zobrist is in camp as an instructor.

wow...rockies score 5 runs in the 9th to win (and cubs only got 1 out).

i know it means nothing, but it's march 3rd and there's baseball on tv.  so...yeah.

Mekkes pulled a Kimbrel before even Kimbrel could pull a Kimbrel.

Good news: today, you get a Chatwood start, Kimbrel in relief and Descalso in left field. What more could you ask for?


Definitely Jackstraw's fault. Spoke the name of the closer and it summoned him from his slumber.

Shit. Double secret probation for me, I guess.

kimbrel giving up homers in mid-season form.  kimbrel took a half season off last year and forgot how to put movement on his fastball.  meatball buffet...

in other news, chatwood was highly effective...and descalso has a hit.

some female fan has been "coaching" pitches and swings on/off all game.  it would be nice to mute any mic anywhere near her...also, the beer vendor has hopefully cut her off.

nothing mean/horrible/stupid or worthy of throwing her out of the park...it's just a whole lot of it going on and on and on and on and on.

...and the camera crew has found her...and len/jd are about full up on this extra commentary.

...and someone called her to let her know "she's on tv" and she has requested they "record it"...and her boyfriend/husband is now chirping loudly with her...

darvish and kipnis scratched, flu.  almora sick, too, but not in today's lineup.

hoerner playing 2nd...norwood to start.

And now Rizzo out with a finger blister issue. So much for the A squad.   

jd making astros cheating jokes...be careful about burning those bridges, guy...

fan with a torn cubs jersey and he jokes "maybe that's where he kept his buzzer."  len chose to not laugh and changed the subject.  len's no fun sometimes.

Agreed on Len. I was a skeptic of JD at first because I liked Brenly but I have really come to thoroughly enjoy JD's commentary.

Len can be a stick in the mud sometimes and definitely goes through other times where he is an insufferable homer. I know everyone in the modern announcing game is a homer to some extent, but Len lost me when the Cubs let MIL tie them in 2018 and every broadcast at least 2-3 times he'd mention "the Cubs haven't had enough off days!"

Then on the first spring broadcast of 2019, within an inning or two, said the same type of comment.

i miss brenly a lot, and i loved len/bob as a combo.  i still catch bob on ARZ games (lot of late games when cubs are done) and enjoy it.  i like len/jd.  they don't "flow" as naturally as len/bob, but when they're clicking they're having a great time...and there's not many slow/bad times...nothing out of the ordinary f'sure.

as an aside, if jd ends up leaving for some reason or the cubs don't extend him (neither are rumored), i wouldn't be shocked to see mark grace sliding into the booth.  i know he's an aquired taste, but i find him amusing.

bonus joe maddon and mark grace from last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGMFri8WFnA

I like how much credit J.D. gives the audience in terms of knowledge and analysis. I think just about every broadcaster could stand a touch more of that. I dont' know if I could go back to Brenly and his "yes dear" jokes.

not much to say about today's game.

ian happ continues to hit with 2 today (9/18 overall), but he's only got 1 walk to go with it.

j.jeffress put in a boring, but effective inning.  only his 3rd appearance, but he's looking good so far.

d.maples made his spring debut and did maples things...1ip 1h 1bb 1k (1r/0er)

Cubs pitchers reports from today's Cubs - Rangers game at Sloan Park:  

James Norwood
FB: 97-99 
CH: 88-89  
SL: 86 
NOTES: Despite continuing to show the best FB velo I've seen from any pitcher this Spring his mix was not FB-heavy as per usual... obviously he's working on his secondaries... 

Jeremy Jeffress 
FB: 90-93 
CH: 88 
CV: 81 
NOTES: Threw mostly FB... looked OK... 

Dillon Maples 
FB: 95-98 
SL: 88-90 
CB: 83-85 
NOTES: Very peculiar outing... stuff looked electric but he couldn't command it... had really bad body language on the mound, almost like he didn't want to throw the ball... looked like he was pissed about something... worked slow and fielders behind him walked around in circles between pitches... after he finished his inning he seemed to purposely walk away from Contreras who was waiting to talk to him in front of the bench, and he entered the Cubs bench at north end (which I've never seen a pitcher do after an inning in Spring Training), avoiding the catcher, the manager and the pitching coach... very strange...  

Jason Adam 
FB: 92-94 T 95-96 
CH: 90 
CV: 77-82 
NOTES: Terrible outing for a guy who is (at best) "on the bubble"... had absolutely zero feel for his CV so he ended up throwing mainly FB and then he started to nibble and his FB ran out of steam the more pitches he threw and the further he got into the inning...  it was like he was digging a hole that just kept getting deeper and deeper... 

Bryan Brickhouse 
FB: 94-95  
CH: 84 
CV: 79-80 
NOTES: Finished Adam's inning... was really amped-up and was all over the place with his FB... he jumped higher than he knew how!... next time you come by bring my stomach! ...

Wyatt Short
FB: 91-94 
SL: 81-84 
CV: 79
CH: 75 
NOTES: Threw two innings and his stuff held-up OK throughout... the 75 MPH CH might have been a CV that didn't break... 

Oscar de la Cruz 
FB: 93-96 
CH: 87
CV: 78-81
NOTES: Threw two innings.. FB velo & secondary stuff was as good at the end of his second inning as it was at the beginning of his first frame... has a SP repertoire and his stuff is above-average across-the-board... at the very least he should be an effective multi-inning RP, but I'm not sure he can't still be a SP (although there is no indication that the Cubs are interested in doing that at this time)... 

Juan Gamez
FB: 95 
SL: 83 
NOTES: Both FB and SL velo held exactly steady throughout the inning... nothing special but not bad... looked exactly like he did the last time I saw him a few days ago... 

i wonder if jeffress is intentionally slowing his FB velocity for better command/control or he's just warming up as the spring goes on...his ch/cv are pretty much mid-season velocity. 

CRUNCH: Jeffress FB velo was down 3-4 MPH from where it was earlier this week... 

Gamez is mildly interesting. The 100 k retention bonus might weigh a bit here. Same with Simpson.

The TV feed cut out for the last batter of Maples' inning, so I couldn't see what happened after his inning was over. Rewatched it and it does seem like he and Willson weren't on the same page. Kind of seemed like Willson didn't give full effort on the two passed balls and that might be why Maples was upset, though they were obviously not easy to catch because of his movement. I actually thought he looked pretty good, as even the passed balls weren't bad misses. But you do wonder if he's nearing a tipping point. It's his last option year, and it has to be wearing on your mental state to just not be able to command your stuff. 

TIM: Only post-2919 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who sign a 2020 minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day (which for the Cubs is Jason Kipnis and Brandon Morrow) are eligible to receive a $100K retention bonus if not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day and not added to an MLB reserve list (40-man roster) or MLB 60-day IL by MLB Opening Day.

So as far as the Cubs are concerned, the decision whether to assign Kipnis and/or Morrow to the minors out of Spring Training and pay a $100K retention bonus (which also includes an automatic 6/1 player opt-out), or give the player his unconditional release, or add the player to the MLB 40-man roster (or 60-day IL), must be made no later than 12 PM (Eastern) on Saturday March 21st.

It does not apply to any of the other free-agents signed by the Cubs to 2020 minor league contracts. Only Kipnis and Morrow.  

BTW, it is possible that if the player does not make the Cubs Opening Day MLB roster (or gets placed on the MLB 60-day IL) the Cubs will release Kipnis and/or Morrow before the deadline, and then re-sign the player to a new minor league contract with a different salary and/or different opt-out date (or no opt-out date).

The Cubs actually did this in 2016 with three post-2015 Article XX-B free-agents signed to 2016 minor league contracts who were eligible to receive a $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt out (Munenori Kawasaki, Shane Victorino, and Manny Parra). The Cubs released all three of them prior to the deadline and then re-signed them to new minor league contracts with different salaries and opt-out dates.  

Why you're the best.

Beginning today (Friday 3/6), the off-season restrictions that prevented post-2019 Draft-Excluded players from being sent to the minors (by optional or outright assignment) have expired, so the Cubs can now send C Miguel Amaya, RHSP Tyson Miller, RHSP Colin Rea, and SS Zack Short to the minors.

And while the Cubs other Draft-Excluded player (RHRP Manuel Rodriguez) cannot be optioned to the minors while he is injured (right biceps strain), he can be outrighted to the minors (even though he is injured), but only through next Wednesday (although it is very unlikely that the Cubs will risk losing Rodriguez off waivers). 

Jordan Bastian reporting that Rodriguez was optioned to Double-A.

I didn't think he was healthy enough for that.

r.garcia and t.miller to AAA.

steele joins rodriguez in AA.

rodriguez was diagnosed with a "stage 2 biceps strain" so it looks like he will be back in baseball shape without too much time off...a lot better diagnosis than what it looked like it may have been when he exited after throwing one wildly.

If Manuel Rodriguez is not healthy enough to pitch at Minor League Camp by MLB Opening Day (3/26), his minor league option will be revoked and he would have to be placed on the Cubs MLB 15-day or 60-day IL. 

It's possible that his injury is not as significant as it first appeared to be. 

Keep in mind that any player on the Cubs MLB reserve list (40-man roster) who is optioned to the minors can continue to play in MLB Cactus League Spring Training games on a game-by-game basis, just like any other minor leaguer. 

TIM: According to Jordan Bastian, the Cubs are saying that the rule allowing a club to assign an injured player who accrued no MLB Service Time the previous season, has accrued less than three years of MLB Service Time, has not been outrighted to the minors previously in his career, and who was not selected in the Major League Phase of the previous Rule 5 Draft (which in 2020 would be Justin Steele, Miguel Amaya, Tyson Miller, Colin Rea, Manuel Rodriguez, and Zack Short), outright to the minors up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day also applies to Optional Assignments. 

I have never seen that before. 

It doesn't say that in the CBA (only outright assignments are covered), but apparently MLB told the Cubs that optional assignments are covered by this article as well, so that is very instructive.

Thanks to Jordan Bastian for that. 

Every now & then I come across a rules interpretation by MLB for something that is not stated explicitly in the CBA or in the MLB rules. That happened last summer with Ben Zobrist getting a minor league conditioning assignment even though the reason for his being placed on the Restricted List did not involve an MLB PED or DV suspension (which are the only two circumstances specifically stated in the rules that allow for a conditioning assignment). 

TIM: I was able to talk to someone regarding the right of a club to either outright - OR - option certain injured players to the minors. 

It is covered in Article XIX-C sub-section 2(b) of the CBA:  

(2) Notwithstanding Section C(1) above, a Player who is injured and not able to play may be assigned to a Minor League club:

(b) During the period immediately following the filing of Major League Reserve Lists and before the 15th day prior to the start of the next championship season, if:

(i) the Player has less than three years of Major League service;

(ii) the contemplated assignment would not be the Player’s second (or subsequent) career outright assignment since March 19, 1990;

(iii) the Player had no Major League service the prior championship season;


(iv) the Player was not selected by the assignor Major League Club in the immediately preceding Rule 5 Draf

So the term "assignment" as used in Article XIX-C sub-section 2(b) is meant to cover both outright - AND - optional assignments, keeping in mind that a player cannot be optioned to the minors beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season (and all players who are still on Optional Assignment must be recalled that day) and the official first day of Spring Training.   

BTW, this actually happened with Danny Hultzen when he was with the Seattle Mariners, and I should have remembered it because I just read about it last year.  

Hultzen was optioned to the minors by the Mariners more than 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day in both 2014 and 2015, even though he was rehabbing from shoulder surgery and was unable to pitch. Why I forgot about that, I don't know...    

And so if they are not going to make the Cubs MLB Opening Day active roster, Miguel Amaya, Colin Rea, and Zack Short need to be optioned prior to Thursday so that there are no potential issues with a pre-existing injury requiring placement on the MLB IL (Tyson Miller, Manuel Rodriguez, and Justin Steele have already been optioned).

OMG Phil is human!

Or, Rob Manfred makes stuff up on the fly.

o's return michael rucker to the cubs.

That's good news. More bullpen options!

And by rule, Michael Rucker must be assigned outright to the minor league affiliate from which he was drafted (that being AAA Iowa). 

I really, really like Alfonso Rivas' swing. If he can play OF and fill in when Rizz is hurt I think he's got a legit shot at a MLB career. Looks like a good return for Tony Kemp.

Yeah, I'm sold. 

Here are the Cubs pitcher velo reports from today's Cubs v. White Sox game at Sloan Park (played in front of an all-time record Cactus League crowd):  

Jon Lester
FB: 89-91 
CT: 86-88
SL: 85 
CH: 81-83 
CV: 71-72 
NOTES: Typical Lester Spring Training performance where he is is just trying to increase his pitch count and innings,  although he labored throughout the outing... 

Ryan Lawlor
FB: 90-93
SL/CT: 86 
CH: 80 
NOTES: Really struggled to just record one out and finish Lester's third inning... will likely be in the AA Tennessee bullpen in 2020... 

Dan Winkler
FB: 94-96 
CT: 91-93 
SL: 85 
NOTES: Hanging SL resulted in a two-run HR... mid-90's FB and low 90's CT are his two main pitches... outing was generally subpar and Winkler (who has a minor league option left, actually two) really needs to stand-out above Underwood and Sadler (who are out of minor league options) to win an Opening Day job in the pen...  

Adbert Alzolay
FB: 93-95 
CH: 81-84 
CV: 78-81 
NOTES: Alzolay has quality stuff but he just doesn't look MLB-ready right now... this will be his last minor league option year so he needs to get it together at AAA in 2020 and be ready to win an MLB  job (SP or RP) no later than 2021 when he will be out of options... 

Rex Brothers
FB: 94-96 
SL: 86-89 
CH: 85-86 
NOTES: Threw two innings and he was better (dominating actually) and threw harder in the second inning than in the first one...  combines a mid-90's FB with a hard SL and it really works... the two CH he threw may have been SL that didn't break... presuming the Cubs carry two lefties in the pen in 2020 (which they might not - TBD), Kyle Ryan will almost certainly be one and Brothers will likely be the other one, since Brad Wieck (February 2020 cardiac procedure) will likely begin the season at EXST... keep in mind that if Brothers is added to the 40 he has one minor league option left, but once he accrues 81 more days of MLB Service Time he will reach five years and then he can't be sent to the minors without his permission... so if he begins the season on the Cubs MLB active roster and stays there until Wieck come back, Brothers will need to be optioned to the minors before 6/15 (which is when he would hit 5+000 MLB ST)... 

Craig Brooks
FB 89-92 
SL: 82-85 
NOTES: Uses the FB to set-up the SL... SL is his best pitch, but it's nothing special... 

If I was the Cubs I would put in a claim on STL INF-OF Yairo Munoz off Release Waivers (known as "$1 waivers" because the waiver price is just one dollar).  

The Cubs would not be awarded the claim if another club with a better waiver claim priority makes a claim as well (which I suspect will happen), but still it's worth a try.

Munoz is making the MLB minimum so there would be no salary offset if a club interested in his services waits until he clears waivers to sign him (as is usually the case when a high-salaried veteran is released, where the new club is only responsible for paying the pro-rated MLB minimum salary if they wait until the player clears Release Waivers to sign him). 

Munoz has one minor league option left and he can play anywhere in the infield & outfield (including SS), and so he would make an excellent 26th man. The Cubs need someone who can play SS in case Baez is out "day-to-day" with an injury that keeps him from playing for three or four days but not long enough to warrant an IL stint, and I don't think Hernan Perez is that guy.   

The reason the Cardinals released Munoz is reportedly that he left the team and flew home to the Dominican Republic without permission because he said he wasn't getting enough playing time, but leaving the club without permission is a reason to place a player on the Restricted List or Disqualified List. The fact that he has been suddenly and summarily released probably indicates that his departure from the club included some additional significant issue(s) beyond a disagreement about playing time. 

short sample size and all (though 25 PA is a good amount for this time in spring), but d.descalso now has a sub-.300 OPS (.291 OPS).  2 singles and 3 walks is his output so far.