So NOW what????
The Cubs have exercised their 2021 $16.5M club option on 1B Anthony Rizzo, and declined their 2021 $25M club option ($10M buy-out) on LHSP Jon Lester and their 2021 club option ($1M buy-out) on INF Daniel Descalso, making Lester and Descalso Article XX-B MLB free-agents.
So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 31 (nine slots are open).
However, the Cubs must reinstate the three players who remain on their MLB 60-day IL (RHRP James Norwood, RHRP Manuel Rodriguez, and LHRP Brad Wieck) no later than tormorrow (Sunday), at which point there will be 34 players on the 40.
The Cubs have claimed 2B-3B-LF Max Schrock off waivers from the St. Loius Cardinals, and LHRP Rex Brothers has been sent outright to AAA Iowa.
If Brothers doesn't elect free-agency immediately, he will be automatically declared an MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA on Sunday at 5 PM Eastern, unless he agrees to sign a 2021 minor league successor contract).
Brothers is out of minor league options and he is arbitation-eligible post-2020, so he was likely to be non-tendered on 12/2 anyway.
Schrock has two minor league options left and he cannot elect free-agency if he were to be outrighted, so the Cubs very well may choose to run him through waivers themselves, but they must wait seven days before he can be placed back onto Outright Assignment Waivers. (Clubs must wait at least seven days to place a player claimed off waivers back onto waivers during the post-season and off-season, and at least 48 hours during Spring Training and the regular season).
Schrock has accrued less than a year of MLB Service Time (he was added to an MLB reserve list for the first time in August) so he is at least three years away from salary arbitration.
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...
ORIGINAL POST 10/2:
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.
24 Cubs minor leaguers (18 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.
POST-2020 SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS: (updated 10-16-2020)
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
Josh Osich, LHP
Eugenio Palma, LHP
Hernan Perez, INF-OF
Pedro Strop, RHP
Jerrick Suiter, RHP/1B
Jerry Vasto, LHP
Joe Wieland, RHP
Mark Zagunis, OF
SECOND CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS (see NOTES below)
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)
SECOND CONTRACT MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS NOTES:
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.
OUTRIGHTED RULE 5 DRAFT ELIGIBLE PLAYER - CANNOT BE ADDED BACK TO MLB 40-MAN ROSTER AFTER 5 PM EASTERN ON 5TH DAY AFTER FINAL GAME OF WORLD SERIES
LIKELY TO BE ADDED :BACK TO THE B40
Michael Rucker, RHRP
OUTSIDE SHOT:TO BE ADDED BACK TO THE 40
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...
RULE 5 DRFT-ELIGIBLES ADDED TO CUBS MLB 40-MAN ROSTER ON 11/20:
1. Cory Abbott, RHSP
2. Christopher Morel, INF
ON THE BUBBLE: :
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:
LIKELY ON AAA IOWA RESERVE LIST - AVAILABLE IN MAJOR LEAGUE PHASE ONLY (WITH POTENTIAL RIGHT TO RE-CLAIM)
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
Tommy Nance, RHRP
Jeffrey Passantino, RHSP
Tyler Payne, C
C. D. Pelham, LHRP
Yunior Perez, RHSP
Yonathan Perlaza, OF (ex-INF)
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
LIKELY ON AA TENNESSEE RESERVE LIST - AVAILABLE IN AAA PHASE (NO RIGHT TO RE-CLAIM IF SELECTED):
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
Connor Myers, OF
Carlos Ocampo, RHP
Raymond Pena, C
Henderson Perez, C
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 available.to 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.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 hour 57 min ago (view)
I believe this is the correct take. It's surprising that Len is leaving. He's good, but he had gotten a little too rationalizey over the past few years for me.
However, it seemed he was heavily invested in the Cubs. His departure feels like there is some Ricketts-ish bullshit going on behind the scenes at Marquee that Len wants no part of. Anyway, I wish him well with the other Chicago team
crunch 2 hours 34 min ago (view)
is everything the ricketts touch just falling to shit in 2021? ....well, except their heavy investments in taking over the state of Nebraska politically with one of the sons and heavy investment in supportive state legislators...
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 hours 4 min ago (view)
This makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks Phil!
(And that HR off Hader was unforgettable)
Hagsag 6 hours 28 min ago (view)
Wrigley Rat 11 hours 56 min ago (view)
Len Kasper is leaving the Cubs for the White Sox radio booth.
Charlie 16 hours 13 min ago (view)
I would be happy to see the Cubs no longer spend DH time on Victor Caratini. Provided there's a Kyle Schwarber or better alternative, of course.
Arizona Phil 1 day 16 min ago (view)
DJL: I don't think Ildemaro Vargas being out of minor league options is much of a concern to the Cubs because as things stand right now he projects as the team's primary utility infielder in 2021. He can play all four INF positions (1B, 2B, 3B, and SS, plus corner OF, too), and he is switch hitter with some pop, especially from the right side (remember the 9th inning HR he hit off Josh Hader in September?).
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 59 min ago (view)
I'm a little surprised Ildemaro Vargas was tendered, given that he's out of options. He has value and isn't expensive as he is pre-arb this year, but still a bit surprised. Have to think he's got an inside track to an Opening Day spot at this point
waveland 1 day 9 hours ago (view)
really appreciate the years and years of your updates
Arizona Phil 1 day 11 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: Strumpf was wearing a cast on his hand in Minor League Camp before everything got shut-down in March so his not being at South Bend might have had something to do with that. I don't know why Rivas wasn't at the ATS.
bradsbeard 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Do you have any idea why Rivas and Strumpf weren't at the alternate site in South Bend? I thought Rivas especially showed enough in ST games to be viewed as a legitimate depth option, especially with the DH.
Arizona Phil 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Alfonso Rivas reminds me a bit of Rafael Palmeiro when Palmeiro first came up to the big leagues and was a "doubles machine" (before he started hitting home runs).
Rivas played D-1 baseball at the University of Arizona, so (just like Nico Hoerner, who also played in the PAC-12) I don't think he needs a lot of additional time at AAA before he's ready for MLB. He's a very advanced hitter, as long as you are OK with lots of doubles & lots of walks but not many HR.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
I hadn't thought of that but I really like that option
bradsbeard 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
I really hope Rivas has a chance at the LF job. Would ease some of the sting of Schwarber being cut loose.
Arizona Phil 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
CRUNCH: I got the impression that Ross had seen enough of Schwarber in LF, so implementing the universal DH may be necessary before Schwarber returns to the Cubs in 2021. I think the Cubs would be fine with Schwarber as their main DH going forward.
BTW, I strongly suspect that the universal DH will be included in the next CBA, but whether there will be a DH in the National League in 2021 is still TBA (which is really stupid, since clubs need to know right now for sure one way or the other whether or not there will be a DH in the N. L. in 2021).
Arizona Phil 1 day 14 hours ago (view)
Besides the guys on the 40, Cubs 2021 NRI relievers with a legit chance to win a bullpen slot in Spring Training include LHRPs Josh Osich and Rex Brothers, and RHRPs Jake Jewell, Trevor Megill, Dakota Mekkes, Michael Rucker, and Joe Wieland (presuming they are not taken in the Rule 5 Draft).
Brothers and Wieland are out of minor league options, however, so if added to the 40 they could not ride the "Chicago - Des Moines Shuttle" like the others could.