So NOW what????

10/28 UPDATE

LHP Andrew Chafin, RHP Tyler Chatwood, OF Billy Hamilton, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Cameron Maybin, C Josh Phegley, and LHP Jose Quintana were automaticaly declared Article XX-B MLB free-agents at 9 AM (Eastern) today (Wednesday 10/28), so the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 32 (eight slots are open). 

The Cubs must decide within the next couple of days whether to exercise the club options on INF Daniel Decalso ($3.5M 2021 salary or else $1M buy-ouit), LHP Jon Lester ($25M 2021 salary or else $10M buy-out), and 1B Anthony Rizzo ($16.5M 2021 salary or else $2M buy-out). It is almost a lock that the Cubs will exercise the 2021 option on Rizzo and decline the options on Descalso and Lester. 

So with the Cubs almost certainly exercising their 2021 option on Rizzo and declining the options on Descalso and Lester, the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) after the World Series will be at 31 (nine slots open, because Descalso becoming a free-agent won't open up a slot on the 40 because he is presently on the MLB 60-day IL).  

The three players on the MLB 60-day IL who are not eligible to be MLB Article XX-B free-agents (James Norwood, Manuel Rodriguez, and Brad Wieck) must be reinstated no later than 5 PM (Eastern) this coming Sunday. Once the trio are reinstated, the Cubs MLB Rseerve List (40-man roster) will be at 34 (with six slots open).  

The Cubs also must decide by 5 PM (Eastern) on Sunday whether to add any of their minor league players who are eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents (second-contract or 6YFA) to the 40. At present there are 22 minor leaguers eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league second contract or 6YFA on Sunday (see full list below) if the player does not sign a 2021 minor league successor contract or is not added to the MLB 40-man roster by the 5 PM (Eastern) deadline.

In addition, any 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who is not eligible to be a minor league free-agent after the World Series but who was sent outright to the minors after signing a 2020 MLB contract (Trevor Megill and Michael Rucker) must be added to the MLB 40-man roster no later than 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the 2020 World Series or else the player cannot be added back to the MLB 40-man roster of the club that outrighted the player until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft. 

See ORIGINAL POST below for what comes next after that...


Eight Cubs (LHRP Andrew Chafin, RHSP Tyler Chatwood, OF Billy Hamilton, RHRP Jeremy Jeffress, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Cameron Maybin, C Josh Phegley, and LHSP Jose Quintana) are scheduled to automatically be declared Article XX-B MLB free-agents at 9 AM (Eastern) on the day after the final game of the 2020 World Series (which can't come fast enough for me!). The Cubs hold club options over three more players (INF Daniel Descalso, LHSP Jon Lester, and 1B Anthony Rizzo) who will become Article XX-B MLB free-agents if the Cubs decline their club option(s), so as many as eleven Cubs could become free-agents after the conclusion of the World Series.

I do not expect the Cubs to extend a Qualifying Offer to any of their post-2020 MLB free-agents, so don't expect any 2021 comp draft picks. 

Of the eleven potential post-2020 MLB free-agents, only one (Anthony Rizzo) will definitely be retained. The Cubs hold a "club-friendly" $16.5M club option for Rizzo in 2021 and he can elect free-agency if he is traded, so I fully expect Rizzo to return to the Cubs in 2021. The Cubs may also very well try and extend Rizzo past 2021, especially since the Cubs have no young stud 1B prospect anywhere in the system at this time. Possibly something like $21M-$22M per year through 2024, which means essentially a $5M or so annual bump in salary. Rizzo might want more money or more years, but I do not see the Cubs going much past 4/$84M.    

The Cubs will almost certainly not exerise their 2021 $25M club option on Jon Lester, instead opting to pay him the $10M buy-out. I don't see Lester returning the Cubs in 2021 even for a significantly reduced salary.  

The Cubs will also positively - NOT - exercise their 2021 $3.5M club option on INF Daniel Descalso (at least I hope they don't), instead opting to pay him the $1M buy-out. Descalso's main value to the Cubs in 2020 was spending the entire truncated season on the 45-day IL (60-day IL) with an ankle injury he (supposedly) sustained while attempting to hit a baseball (not an easy task for him!) in the last Summer Camp pre-season game versus the Twins, thereby providing an injury replacement slot for the extremely valuable Josh Phegley on the Post-Season Roster Eligibility List. 

I think it is possible that the Cubs will attempt to re-sign Jose Quintana to be their only LHSP and #3 in the rotation, but for less than the $11.5M he made in 2020. Maybe something like $32M for four years ($8M per season) with a club option and $1M buy-out for the 4th season, so either 4/$32M or else 3/$25M if the 2024 club option is declined. Something like that. Whether Quintana would sign such a contract, I do not know,  What I do know is that Quintana is five years younger than Lester and prior to 2020 he was a rotation horse who (until this year) did not miss a start, and the two injuries he sustained in 2020 were not elbow or shoulder related, so he is still fairly clean in those areas. He just needs to buy a dish-washer.  

The Cubs will also probably try and re-sign Jeremy Jeffress for maybe two years at a $5M base salary per season with significant annual performance bonuses based on GF (so if he is the closer he makes more like closer money), with maybe an additional club option with a modest buy-out for a third year tacked on the end of the deal. Again, I do not know if Jeffress would be interested in such a deal, but that's what I would expect him to be offered by the Cubs.

So with the Cubs exercising their 2021 option on Rizzo and (initially) letting the other ten walk (I don't expect Quintana or Jeffress to re-sign immediately), the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) after the World Series will be at 34 (with six slots open).  

The three players on the MLB 45-day IL (60-day IL in all previous sesons) who are not eligible to be MLB Article XX-B free-agents (James Norwood, Manuel Rodriguez, and Brad Wieck) must be reinstated no later than 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series. Once the trio are reinstated, the Cubs MLB Rseerve List (40-man roster) will be at 34 (with six slots open).  

The Cubs next must decide by 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series whether to add any of their minor league  players who are eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents (second-contract or 6YFA) to the 40.

22 Cubs minor leaguers (16 post-2020 6YFA and six second-contract players) are eligible to be declared MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA at 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day following the final game of the 2020 World Series (or at 5 PM Eastern on October 15th if the 2020 World Series is cancelled).   

In addition, four additional players (Ian Miller, Josh Osich, Hernan Perez, and Patrick Wisdom) were outrighted to the minors during the 2020 season and had the right to either elect free-agency immediately or else defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, and all four accepted their Outright Assignment and deferred their right to elect free-agency (unless they are added back to the MLB Reserve List in the meantime). These players will have until October 15th to elect free-agency, but even if they don't they will automatically be declared MLB Rule 55 6YFA after the World Series. .  
NOTE: LHP Matt Dermody and C Josh Phegley were also outrighted to the minors during the 2020 season and had the right to either elect free-agency immediately or else defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, and Dermody elected free-agency on 9/28 and the Cubs selected Phegley's contract and added him back to their MLB 40-man roster on 9/29.  

The Cubs will have until five days after the final game of the 2020 World Series  to either sign a post-2020 MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (including any Article XIX-A or Article XX-D player who did not file for free-agency by October 15th) to a 2021 minor league successor contract or add the player to their MLB 40-man roster, otherwise the player will automatically be declared a free-agent. 

Corey Black, RHP
Erick Castillo, C 
Eric Gonzalez, C
Luke Hagerty, LHP
Danny Hultzen, LHP
Luis Lugo, LHP
Ivan Medina, RHP
Jordan Minch, LHP
Erling Moreno, RHP  
Tyler Olson, LHP  
Eugenio Palma, LHP
Pedro Strop, RHP
Jerrick Suiter, RHP/1B  
Jerry Vasto, LHP
Joe Wieland, RHP  
Mark Zagunis, OF

Aneudis Beard RHP (previously released by TEX)
Garrett Kelly, RHP (previously released by MIN)
Ryan Lawlor, LHP (previously released by ATL)
Jorge Ramirez, LHP (previously released by TEX)
Juan Vasquez, C (previously released by SD)
Vance Vizcaino, OF (previously released by KC)
NOTE-1: With mutual consent (player & club), a second-contract minor league player who has accrued fewer than seven minor league seasons can be signed to a multi-year minor league contract with club control extending up through the player's seventh minor league season.
NOTE-2: RHP Aneudis Beard (previously released by TEX) and LHP Jorge Ramirez (previously released by TEX) are second-contract minor league players, but neither of the them is eligible for selection in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft if signed beyond 2020.

With the possible exception of LHRP Danny Hultzen (who has an outside shot at being added back to the 40), I do not see the Cubs adding any of their 22 potential Rule 55 minor league free-agents to the 40 by the post-World Series deadline, but I do think the Cubs will offer 2021 minor league successor contracts to some of them (especially Hultzen and the younger ones with upside, like LHP Luis Lugo, LHRP Jordan Minch, LHRP Ryan Lawlor, RHP Erling Moreno, LHRP Eugenio Palma, RHRP Ivan Medina, and RHRP/1B Jerrick Suiter). While signing a successor contract will make them Rule 5 Draft eligible, it will also keep them in the organization for an additional season (as long as the player is not selected in the Rule 5 Draft).

Also, any 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who is not eligible to be a minor league free-agent after the World Series but who was sent outright to the minors after signing a 2020 MLB contract (Trevor Megill and Michael Rucker) must be added to the MLB 40-man roster no later than 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the 2020 World Series or else the player cannot be added back to the MLB 40-man roster of the club that outrighted the player until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft. 

I believe the Cubs will likely add Michael Rucker to the 40 (he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, and he pitched very well in Spring Training before being reclaimed by the Cubs in March), but I don't think the Cubs will add Trevor Megill back to the 40, instead taking the chance that he will not be selected again in the Rule 5 Draft (the Cubs selected him in the Rule 5 Draft last year from the San Diego Padres, but were able to retain him and outright him to the Alternate Training Site during Summer Camp in July by sending the Padres a cash payment so that they would not reclaim him after he went unclaimed off Outright Assignment Waivers).  

So if the Cubs add Michael Rucker to the 40 after the World Series (and let's say they do), their MLB 40-man roster goes up by one to 35. 


Michael Rucker, RHRP

Trevor Megill, RHRP 

Next the Cubs must decide by November 20th which 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible players (including any player eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2020 who signed a 2021 minor league successor contract) to add their MLB 40-man roster (to keep the player from being eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft). 

Keep in mind that any minor league player eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft who has his contract selected and is added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 31st (was August 15th in previous seasons) has Draft-Excluded status, meaning the player cannot be sent to the minors (outrighted or optioned) any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, so a roster slot on the 40 that is allocated to a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player by the 11/20 deadline would effectively be locked and unavailable for the duration of the off-season and much of Spring Training.

The Cubs also must decide by November 20th whether to place a 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor league player who is not added to the MLB 40-man roster on 11/20 on their AAA Iowa reserve list or on the reserve list of an affiliate of a lower classification (usually AA, but somtimes single-A). At most 38 of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguers can be placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on 11/20. However, although the AAA Reserve List limit is 38, probably more like 35 of the Rule 5 Draft-eligible players will actually be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 (the Cubs placed 35 players on their AAA Iowa reserve list in both 2018 and 2019), because slots need to be left open for players the Cubs might want to select in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, as well as for free-agents signed to minor league contracts or players outrighted to the minors after 11/20 but prior to the Rule 5 Draft. (Any Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who signs a 2021 minor league contract prior to the Rule 5 Draft will be eligible for selection). Any 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguer who is not added to the MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) or placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List on or before 11/20 will be eligible for selection in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft).

Last year the Cubs had seven slots open on their MLB 40-man roster after the departure of their Article XX-B MLB free-agents (Barnette, Castellanos, X. Cedeno, Cishek, Hamels, D. Holland, Kintzler, Lucroy, Moorow, Phelps, Strop, and Zobrist) after the conclusion of the World Series. The Cubs outrighted RHRP Allen Webster to AAA Iowa and selected the contract of RHSP Colin Rea (who otherwise would have been declared a minor league 6YFA) from AAA Iowa prior to the 5 PM (Eastern) deadline on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series, and then with seven slots still open on the 40 on 11/20, they selected the contracts of only four of their Rule 5 Draft eligible minor leaguers (C Miguel Amaya, RHSP Tyson Miller, RHRP Manuel Rodriguez, and SS Zack Short), leaving three slots open for a cash trade (RHSP Jharel Cotton acquired from OAK), a waiver claim (LHP C. D. Pelham claimed off waivers from TEX), and a Rule 5 Draft pick (RHRP Trevor Megill, selected from SD). 

During the course of the 2020 season the Cubs added just one player to the 40 who was eligible for selection in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft (LHP Brailyn Marquez, on the last day of the MLB regular season). Marquez is considered to be the Cubs top pitching prospect, so adding him to the 40 was going to happen on 11/20 anyway.   

Back in 2018 the Cubs added just one Rule 5 Draft-eligible player (LHP Justin Steele) to the 40 on 11/20, after adding one (RHRP James Norwood) during the course of the 2018 MLB regular season. That's it. Just two. Another Cubs 2018 Rule 5 Draft-eligible player (3B Jason Vosler) was traded to the San Diego Padres for RHRP Rowan Wick on 11/20 (Wick required a slot on the 40 because he was a Draft-Excluded player).  

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

The Cubs then added three more post-2017 Rule 5 Draft-eligibles (RHSP Adbert Alzolay, INF David Bote, and RHSP Oscar de la Cruz) to the 40 on 11/20 of 2017, Bote after hitting a robust 333/395/536 for the Mesa Solar Sox in the post-season Arizona Fall League. (It's not unusual for the Cubs to assign a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to the Arizona Fall League, as the AFL is often used as a "proving ground" for pitchers and position-players who are under consideration for promotion to an MLB 40-man roster). However, the AFL season was canceled (as was the entire minor league season) in 2020 due to the CoViD-19 pandemic. 

Here is how I think it will go this year...  


1. Cory Abbott, RHSP 
2. Christopher Morel, INF 

3. P. J. Higgins, C-INF 
4. Duncan Robinson, RHSP 
5. Dakota Mekkes, RHRP 

Presuming Abbott, C. Morel, Higgins, Robinson, and Mekkes  are added to the 40 on 11/20, the Cubs MLB Reserve List roster goes up to 40 (roster is full).  

So keeping in mind that post-2020 Cubs minor league FA-eligibles who sign minor league successor contracts prior to being declared a free-agent at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series (TBD), players outrighted to the minors prior to the Rule 5 Draft (TBD), and free-agents who sign 2021 minor league contracts prior to the Rule 5 Draft (TBD) will also be eligible, - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - here is my preliminary projected minor league reserve list assignments for the Cubs 2020 Rule 5 Draft eligible minor leaguers who are not likely to be added to the 40 in November:  

Aramis Ademan, SS 
Jose Albertos, RHSP 
Javier Assad, RHSP
Cam Balego, C-1B-3B
Craig Brooks, RHRP
Bailey Clark, RHRP  
Danis Correa, RHSP 
Zach Davis, OF
Donnie Dewees, OF 
Scott Effross, RHRP
Trent Giambrone, INF-OF 
Ben Hecht, RHRP 
P. J. Higgins, C-INF 
Bryan Hudson, LHSP 
Fernando Kelli, OF 
Brendon Little, LHSP 
Eddy Julio Martinez, OF  
Trevor Megill, RHRP 
Dakota Mekkes, RHRP 
Connor Myers, OF 
Tommy Nance, RHRP 
Jeffrey Passantino, RHSP 
Tyler Payne, C 
C. D. Pelham, LHRP 
Yunior Perezs, RHSP
Eury Ramos, RHSP
Peyton Remy, RHSP 
Duncan Robinson, RHSP 
Aneuris Rosario, RHRP   
Wyatt Short, LHRP 
Matt Swarmer, RHSP
Keegan Thompson, RHSP 
Erich Uelmen, RHSP 
Jared Young, 1B-OF  
Delvin Zinn, INF  

Maikel Aguiar, RHP 
Jesus Camargo, RHP
Yovanny Cuevas, OF 
Christian Donahue, INF 
Jose Gutierrez, OF 
Ferrol Heredia, LHP 
Brandon Hughes, LHP (ex-OF) 
Ryan Kellogg, LHP 
Fidel Mejia, IB-3B
Carlos Ocampo, RHP 
Raymond Pena, C
Henderson Perez, C 
Yonathan Perlaza, INF 
Gustavo Polanco, C-1B   
Jonathan Sierra, OF 
Didier Vargas, LHP 
D. J. Wilson, OF 

The Cubs then will have another 12 days to decide whether to tender contracts to unsigned players on their MLB 40-man roster (MLB contract tender date in 2020 is December 2nd). 

Last year the Cubs non-tenderd two players, INF Addison Russell (after being unable to trade him in November) and LHRP Danny Hultzen. Russell ended up playing for the Kiwoom Heroes in the KBO in South Korea in 2020 (hitting 272/338/342), but Hultzen subsequently signed a 2020 minor league contract with the Cubs on 12/16 after being non-tendered on 12/2 (probably pre-arranged, because he waited to re-sign until after the Rule 5 Draft so that he could not be selected).   

In 2018 the Cubs non-tendered INF Ronald Torreyes (just two days after acquiring him in a trade!), RHRP Justin Hancock, and RHRP Allen Webster. (Hancock subsequently signed a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, Torreyes signed an MLB contract with the Minnesota Twins less than a week after being non-tendered, and Webster re-signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal with an NRI to Spring Training after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft). 

Who the Cubs might decide to non-tender on 12/2 will depend on several factors. 

1. The Cubs want to remove a player from the 40 but don't want to expose the player to waivers or risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft, so they non-tender him on 12/2 and then wait to re-sign him to a 2021 minor league contract until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft (as they did with Allen Webster in 2018 and with Danny Hultzen in 2019). But the player has to be cool with the idea and go along with the plan. (A liitle extra cash helps, like paying him the same money he would have gotten if he had remained on the 40).  

2. The player is arbitration-eligible and the Cubs do not want to risk potentially going to an arbitration hearing and losing, so they tell the player "Here is our offer.. take it or leave it...", and if the player declines to sign on the line that is dotted, he gets non-tendered. Of course, if he gets non-tendered the club gets nada in return (other than salary relief, if that matters). 

3. The Cubs do not want to retain a player for the next season but they would prefer to trade the player and get something back of value (if possible), but if they can't work out a deal by the tender deadline, they just non-tender the player.This is what happened with Addison Russell last year. However, in 2018 the Cubs were able to find a taker for Tommy LaStella just a few days before he wouldf have been  non-tendered. Of course, it turned out to be a really bad trade for the Cubs.  

4. The Cubs want to cut a player more than maximum-permissable 20%, so they non-tender him and try to re-sign him for a lot less money than they would have had to pay him if he was tendered a contract. This is sometimes done when a player is injured and is expected to miss most (if not all) of the next season). 

5. The player has Draft-Excluded status and so he can't be sent outright to the minors during the off-season. So he gets non-tendered and then (hopefully) agrees to sign a minor league contract, preferably after the Rule 5 Draft.  

Here's the deal (and it's fairly bleak): 

Who gets non-tendered this year will depend on the Cubs 2021 payroll.

The 2021 Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold is $210M.

The estimated 2021 Player Benefit Costs (which count against a club's payroll AAV) will be about $15M.

A club has to keep a about $5M in payroll AAV available for injured list replacements and possible mid-season trade acquisitions.

So that means if the Cubs want to stay under the CBT threshold in 2021, the actual available payroll is about $190M.   

At present the Cubs have five signed players (Bote, Darvish, Hendricks, Heyward, and Kimbrel, plus Rizzo's club option which will almost certainly be exercised). Because he is likely to finish in the Top 3 in N. L. Cy Young voting, Darvish's 2021 salary will increase by $1M over what it otherwise would have been, and since Hendricks will likely finish in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting his 2021 salary will increase by $3M over what it otherwise weould have been. This is what is known as a "salary escalator" because it is applied to all of the player's annual salaries for the duration of the contract.  

So added together, the 2021 salary AAV for the six signed players listed above is right about at $95M.

That leaves about $95M. 

The collective salaries for pre-arbitration players (including minor league split salaries for players with split contracts) is always around $6M 

That leaves about $89M for the 13 arbitration-eligible players.  
Keep in mind that per an agreement between the MLBPA and MLB owners, the 2020 season will be disregarded by the arbitration panels, so whatever a player did in 2020 (good or bad) is not going to matter.

If the Cubs keep everybody who isn't an Article XX-B free-agent and tender contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players (Almora, Baez, Brothers, Bryant, Caratini, Contreras, Happ, J. Marttinez, Rea, Schwarber, Tepera, and Winkler), their estimated collective projected salaries AAV total about $73M: :

Almora - $2.25M
Baez - $15M 
Brothers - $1M
Bryant - $23M
Caratini - $2.5M
Contreras - $9M 
Happ - $2.5M 
J. Martinez - $2.5M 
Rea - $1M  
Ryan - $1.25M 
Schwarber - $10M 
Tepera - $1.25M 
Winkler - $1.5M  

So about $16M will be sign free-agents and/or spend on in-house cotract extensions (Baez and/or Rizzo). And just re-signing Quintana (or a LHSP similar to him) would probably cost about $8M in 2021AAV. 

Which is why the Cubs are likely to non-tender a whole bunch of guys. Of course they will shop them first, throughout the month of November, but if they don't get any nibbles, then a non-tender is the only alternative. 

If they aren't traded, I would expect Almora, Brothers, J. Martinez, Rea, Ryan, Tepera, and Winkler to be non-tendered. right off the top.

Because non-tendered players would be replaced on the active roster by minimum salary guys, the actual projected payroll AAV savings isn't the player's entire salary. Rather, it's the non-tendered player's AAV salary minus about $575K, so together Almora, Brothers, J. Martinez, Rea, Ryan, Tepera, and Winkler are projected to make about $11M in 2021 payroll, offssrt by about $4M in minimum salaries. So the actual AAV savings is about $7M, meaning about $23M should be available in Cubs 2021 payroll AAV after all of the non-tenders.

The Cubs would be able to sign Quintana or a similar type FA LHSP (presuming he is willing to sign for $8M per year) and Jeffress (if he is good with $5M per year) and maybe one or two contract extensions (Rizzo, and maybe Baez but only if they don't re-sign Jeffress and Baez is willing to take a "hometown discount").

And that's presuming Ricketts doesn';t slash the Cubs payroll budget way below the $210 CBT threshold in the CoViD-19 aftermath! 

Which is why I think the following three things will happen:

1. The Cubs will non-tender Kyle Schwarber if they can't trade him by end of November; This is extremely likely to happen. A virtual lock.     

2. The Cubs will try and trade Kris Bryant during November for a minimum salary MLB SP or 2B, 3B, or LF with some years of club control beyond what Bryant has (through 2021) and/or a half-decent prospect (maybe two if they'ee lucky), but probably nobody too extraordinary or elite. And they may not be able to even do that. Is it possibl;e that Kris Bryant could be non-tendered on 12/2? I have thought about it, and I'm not sure now. It's possible (though not likely).   

3.  The Cubs will trade Willson Contreras for minimum salary MLB players and/or prospects. With the needs they will have in 2021,the Cubs just cannot afford to keep both Contreras (under club control through 2022) and Caratini (under club control through 2023), especially since it appears that Caratini is ready to be a #1 catcher, and with Miguel Amaya probably only a couple of years away.

I believe the Schwarber non-tender is a virtual lock. There is just not going to be any trade market for him because of  what he can get through the arb procees. I can see some MLB clubs pursuing him after he becomes a non-tendered free-agent, but not by way of a trade if they would possibly have to go to arbitration with him (which is a possibility).

Bryant could be traded. I could see the Washington Nationals and/or the New York Mets possibly being interested, since both clubs have their contention windows open only so much longer (Scherzer is a FA after 2021 for WAS and Syndergaard and Conforto are FA for NYM after 2021), and even just one year of Bryant (playing for what he believes will be a potential mega-contract post-2021) might be an attractive proposition too good to pass up, especially since he can be offered as QO and the club can get a comp draft pick in 2022 if he doesn't sign an extention (which he won't).   

While there is no way Bryant signs an extension prior to hitting free-agency, I think Willson Contreras would be more than willing to sign one (maybe 5/$75M, something that would buy out his last two arbitration years and three free-agent years). So any team acquiring Contreras should feel confident it can probably keep him beyond 2022.

If the Cubs were to non-tender Schwarber, trade Bryant, and trade Contreras, they would save about another $42M in usable 2021 payroll AAV. The Cubs would probably be able to sign Rizzo and possibly Baez to contract extensions (would probably cost somewhere around $16M AAV combined), re-sign Quintana and Jeffress (about $13M AAV combined), and maybe sign a couple of FA (like 2B D. J. LeMahieu and/or LF Michael Brantley and/or maybe even 2B-3B-DH Tommy LaStella) to replace the missing Ben Zobrist element in the lineup. Because if it wasn't obvious before, it sure is now... the Cubs need hitters who don't strike out a lot, make consistent hard contact, barrel the ball, handle high-velo, and don't need to be platooned. 

Here are a couple or three zero dark-thirty alcohol-fueled trade ideas that maybe possibly perhaps could happen (maybe):

1. The Angels sign Jon Lester for a couple of years, and decide they want Willson Contreras to catch Lester, but also to be their #1 catcher for the next five years.   

Willson Contreras and Nico Hoerner to LAA for 2B-3B-SS David Fletcher and CF Brandon Marsh. 

2. The Washington Nationals believe they'll get just one more shot with Scherzer in 2021 and Bryant could be the missing ingredient (if only just for one season, then a QO and a comp draft pick).

Kris Bryant to WAS for INF Carter Kieboom (would play 2B for Cubs) and LHRP Matt Cronin.    

3. The Mets decide they want Willson Contreras to be their catcher for the next five years and Kris Bryant to play 3B in 2021.

Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant to NYM for 2B-LF Jeff McNeil,3B Mark Vientos, and RHSP Josh Wolf. 

'Nuff said.


Wow Phil, I think you have covered it!

great read, f'sure.

Great stuff, AZ Phil - Thank you!

I'd be kinda surprised if Schwarber gets non-tendered. But it's possible.

The Cubs would be absolutely insane to trade Contreras. At this point, he's the only one they'd be able to feel comfortable extending. The rest of that group was, to a man, complete trash this year. That isn't to say they're not good players any more, but signing Javy or Rizzo to an extension got a whole lot more risky after the seasons they just completed.

I know I've asked in the past why Amaya is so well thought of. And it's been answered, but I just think it's such an enormous risk to bet on a catcher who has never really produced much offensively in the minors despite off the charts intangibles and strong defense. Contreras is one of the premier catchers and has been for years. He is so athletic and seems like the type that can sustain production deep into his career. I'm no scout, but man, I think it would be an enormous mistake to trade Willson based on how good he is and the risk involved with Amaya. When I see Amaya, I see Austin Hedges. Anybody clamoring to acquire Hedges?

Phil, you believe there is ZERO trade market for Schwarber, and that there is a trade market for KB? That's nuts. KB is awful. Kyle will at least hit 25 HRs in a normal season from the left side as a DH at worst. KB may never hit 25 HRs again. He ain't been the same since he got beaned in the head. He's scared to death at the plate. 

KB was actually better after being hit in the head than before, until his shoulder injury on a head-first slide. We’re able to see this by looking at game logs. Also his 2019 was as good as his rookie year 2015.

Does any Cubs 'fan' or interested observer look at statistical, objective analysis of Kris Bryant? Yes, his swing was all f'd up in a 60 game season (see Ron Coomer on WSCR this morning). He is a 4-5.5 WAR player when playing 145+ games/year. That's a $30-40m/yr value. I have no problem watching him figure it out in a Cubs uniform the first 80-90 games of 2021. 

The only compellingly scary thing about Bryant is recent history of nagging injuries that seem to have limited his bat. The declining defense is no biggy. Healthy, the bat is fine at any corner spot. Keeping him [I mean signing a big extension] or sending him off both feel massively risky.

I wonder if the Cubs are interested in taking a shot on Foltynewicz. He's not that far removed from excellent work and is only going into his age 29 season. Plus ATL designated him so quickly this year that I believe he still has 2 years before free agency.

Kris Bryant isn't Kris Bryant anymore and has been trending that wat since 2018. Last year was the last straw for me. This year was just salt in an open wound. He's made everyone else worse around him. Everytime he fails at the plate, the next guy has to pick him up. It's always deflating when The Guy doesn't drive in a runner. Kris just isn't a RBI guy. That's the stat people need to pay attention to more often. 

Well, Kaplan reports Theo is going to leave. Probably to NYM. Ricketts don't want to pay him anymore. No reason to now since they won it in 2016.

Time for a straight rebuild. Trade them all. Hendricks. Yu. Schwarbs. KB. Willson. Javy. Heyward if possible. Kimbrell. Even Rizzo if Miami gives us some players for him. 

Clean start over. Get prospects and top draft picks from losing seasons.

Definitely thought you were kidding about this until I saw Kaplan's column. Still not totally sure if you're serious??

dude did a decent job, but there's no reason to pay "superstar" scale pay for an executive like him.

let's not pretend jed hoyer is a clueless young man or think theo didn't work his magic without an insane amount of money backing some things big money teams rarely do (like, multi-year intentional tanking of team win/loss records).

he's gonna be a HOF executive and he's not even 50 or done with his career.  he's the man.  he may be off to attempt to work his magic elsewhere.

I was more referring to seriousness of tearing everything down. The Theo part makes sense, given his personal philosophy as well

yeah, i don't want to see a total teardown.  this isn't some mid-market team and watching teams like NYY consistantly spend big money -and- develop a strong minor league system that rarely has a "dry" period should show people this task isn't an either/or.

My thoughts exactly. 

I had heard scuttlebutt after the Cubs won the World Series about Theo perhaps wanting to build an expansion team from scratch as his next impossible dream / mountain to climb, but it doesn't look like MLB expansion will be happening anytime soon. 

I always thought Colorado would be about the biggest possible challenge if he wanted another mission impossible. I still think of them as an expansion team!

I don't think anyone actually wants to take on Colorado.

I'm totally serious about total rebuild.

This core group are Chicago Folk Heroes. They always will be. But their magic is gone. They had a great run for Cubs Nation.

Time to move on. Allow them to rejoice their careers at other places. They're probably just as frustrated as we are. Pressure to repeat that 2016 success must be heavy.

Everyone would be better off moving on.

Let Ross decide whether he wants to stay and coach young guys or go back to TV work.

No one is taking Heyward or Kimbrel.

I also can't fathom wanting to see a total tear down type rebuild. It worked so well the first time due to some luck, some skill and the fact that half the goddamned league wasn't doing the same thing. Like yeah the last couple seasons have been frustrating but haven't been devoid of fun moments. 2012-2014 was some truly difficult and awful baseball. We ended 2012 with a starting rotation of Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Jason Berken, and someone else so awful I have blacked out on their name. Can you honestly say you're good with that again? You gonna pay for MLB.TV to make sure you catch those games? Especially when there are no guarantees, even moreso now because of the aforementioned like 13 teams trying to do the same.

It appears as if Mike Rizzo's contract is up this year. Is there any chance that rhe Chicago boy could be considered for Baseball Ops President? Maybe good timing for all considering Theo may just want to transition things early, which I am fine with. While I'm at it, I thank him and his staff again for the golden memories of 2015-2016. I also pee on them for totally fucking up by not trying hard enough to move a couple pieces when they had value, instead of waiting until they had none. This is after they stated that "changes were in order", and proceeded get rid of LaStella, to bring in Sauza and Descalzo. What a goddamn waste. 

imo, it's time to let jed hoyer shine.

promote crane kenny to president, let hoyer take more power over the GM position, and call it a day.

i know some people don't like kenny, but the guy has been kept on by multiple owners because monitizing wrigley field and the cubs is something he's done very well while dealing with a revolving door of aldermen, mayors, and neighborhood advocates.  it's very obvious that monitizing the cubs and the "wrigley field entertainment complex" is something this current ownership group considers a top priority.

Crane Kenny is already president of business operations. Totally separate from the baseball operations. The move would be to promote Jed to Theo's job (president of baseball operations) and bring in/promote another GM under him. I wonder if it might not be Dan Kantrovitz. 

Nationals signed Rizzo to a 3 year extension in September.

Good to see you post, E-Man - Hope you're doing well. 

Cubs AA Tennessee Pitching Coach Charlie Haeger is wanted for the murder of his ex-girlfriend in Scottsdale.

Ex-girlfriend's roommate heard shots fired from bedroom and then saw Haeger leave room and flee scene. His car was later found abandoned in Flagstaff.  

he's been found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on a grand canyon trail.

2020 simply can't end soon enough.

I find it interesting that seven of the 16 MLB clubs (nearly half of the clubs) that qualified for the Wild Card Series were from the MLB Central region (A. L. Central and N. L. Central), and all seven lost their series, some in embarasasing fashion (Reds, Cubs, and Brewers offense didn't show up, Cardinals & White Sox managers misdmanaged their bullpens, Shane Bieber shit in his pants, and the Twins defense and baserunning went Little League.  

Maybe the W-L records weren't what they seemed. (Sort of like a "false positive" in medicine). Maybe PIT, KC, and DET are a lot worse than they appeared to be. 

Really pathetic performances by those seven teams. 

twins aren't very good at the post-season for quite a while.  18 losses in a row dating back to 2004...

osich cleared waivers and has been sent to the alternative training site.

There were six Cubs players (Matt Dermody, Ian Miller, Josh Osich, Hernan Perez, Josh Phegley, and Patrick Wisdom) sent outright to the minors over the last four or five weeks of the 2020 season who had the right to elect free-agency immediately upon being outrighted (they actually had two days to decide) or wait to elect free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up through October 15th, and all six elected to accept the Outright Assignment and defer. 

Dermody elected free-agency on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season (last Monday) and Phegley was added back to the MLB 40-man roster last Wednesday (which he probably had been told would happen when he was outrighted), but the other four have yet to elect (again, they have until 10/15).

But even if they don't elect to be a FA by 10/15, each will be automatically declared a minor league 6YFA at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the Worl;d Series if he isn't added back to MLB 40-man roster or signs a 2021 minor league successor contract in the meantime.

It's just that becoming a minor league free-agent on or before 10/15 gives the player a "leg-up" on the literally hundreds of MLB Rule 55 minor league second-contract free-agents and 6YFA who will hit the market after the conclusion of the World Series, and so (if possible, which it is in their case) it is better to become a free-agent now rather than later. 

So the only reasons why I. Miller, Osich, H. Perez, and Wisdom would not elect free-agency by 10/15 would be if the player thinks he might get added back to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by 10/15 (not very likely) or if he plans to sign a 2021 minor league successor contract with the Cubs (and receive an NRI to 2021 Spring Training), which of course is quite possible.  

Otherwise, I would expect I. Miller, Osich, H. Perez, and Wisdom to join Dermody on the free-agency market very soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow (Monday 10/5), but certainly no later than 10/15.

And if he isn't dropped from the 40 prior to the conclusion of the World Series (and he could get dropped if the Cubs need his 40-man roster slot before then), Phegley will automatically be declared an Article XX-B MLB FA at 9 AM on the day after the final game of the World Series.   

3B-1B Patrick Wisdom (assigned outright to the Iowa reserve list on 9/28) has elected free-agency. joining LHRP Matt Dermody (who elected free-agency on 9/28).  

Still waiting on OF Ian Miller, LHRP Josh Osich, and INF-OF Hernan Perez (they have until 10/15 to decide).  

a team that finished 2 games under .500 (HOU) is about to play for the AL pennant.

braves back in the NLCS for the first time since 2001.

Remember that Astros cheating scandal a decade or two ago?

yeah, something about buzzers in trashcans or something.

i miss the beforetimes.

Recent comments

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  • Hagsag 11 min 52 sec ago (view)

    Phil, we all are so glad you are getting to somehow "view" these games. Stay safe my friend.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHRP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter. 

    He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs  immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    Good to see Roederer and Velasquez  providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 15 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster. 


  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    "He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."

    reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here. 

    He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.

    His receiving should improve with experience as well. 


  • azbobbop 2 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?


  • tim815 2 days 23 hours ago (view)

    That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.

    Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 16 hours ago (view)

    For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.

    As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later. 


  • Arizona Phil 3 days 17 hours ago (view)

    In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:  

    RHP Josh Burgmann 
    RHP Chris Clarke 
    LHP D. J. Herz
    RHP Michael McAvene 


  • Charlie 4 days 14 hours ago (view)

    This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.


  • bradsbeard 4 days 19 hours ago (view)

    I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump. 


  • crunch 5 days 9 hours ago (view)

    iapoce expected to stay.  i'm surprised.  i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.


  • crunch 5 days 10 hours ago (view)

    i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.