Off-Season Roster Machinations
The best thing about non-tendering a player on December 2nd is that it's the one day each year when a club can remove a player from its MLB 40-man roster without having to risk losing the player off waivers.
Unfortunately, players can - NOT - be non-tendered to open up slots on the 40-man roster for players eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft. That's because the only day of the year when a player can be non-tendered is December 2nd, and the roster filing deadline for players eligible for selection in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft is November 19th (the roster-filing deadline is normally November 20th, but November 20th falls on a Saturday this year, so by rule the deadline is moved-up a day).
What non-tendering a player on 12/2 does buy a club is a roster slot that can be used for signing a free-agent to a major league contract, an off-season waiver claim, or possibly selecting a player in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (and the Cubs have the #7 pick in the Rule 5 Draft this year).
As of right now, the Cubs have have 39 players reserved on their MLB 40-man roster (so one slot is open), plus another eight players are on the MLB 60-day IL and do not count against the reserve list roster limit, but they must be reinstated no later than the 5th day after the final game of the World Series.
There also are four players (Robinson Chirinos, Zach Davies, Matt Duffy, and Jose Lobaton) who will automatically be declared an Article XX-B MLB free-agent at 9 AM on the day after the final game of the World Series. (They don't have to file, it's automatic). Lobaton is one of the eight players presently on the 60-day IL, so those four players becoming free-agents the day after the final game of the World Series will actually only free-up three slots on the 40 (the Chirinos, Davies, and Duffy slots), getting the Cubs MLB reserve list down to 36, but with seven players still left on the MLB 60-day IL who will need to be reinstated no later than the 5th day after the final game of the World Series.
So just to get down to 40 players on the 5th day day after the final game of the World Series, the Cubs will need to drop three players who are presently on the 40, beyond Chirinos, Davies, and Duffy. And that doesn't even address opening up additional 40-man roster slots for however many Rule 5 Draft eligible players the Cubs will want to add to the 40 by the 11/19 roster filing deadline (art least two, possibly more).
Depending on the player, there are certain types of restrictions as far as removing the player from a club's MLB 40-man roster during off-season.
1. MLB RULE 5 DRAFT-EXCLUDED PLAYER (formerly MLB Rule 6 Draft-Excluded Player): These are players with less than three years of MLB Service Time who were on a minor league reserve list, were eligible for selection in the Rule Draft, and who had their contract selected and were added to an MLB reserve list (40-man roster) after 8/15 up until the Rule 5 Draft. These players cannot be sent to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to 2022 Opening Day, and cannot be sent outright to the minors prior to the Rule 5 Draft unless the player is placed on Outright Assignment Waivers no later than 2 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series and then (if not claimed off waivers) sent outright to the minors prior to the waivers expiring (which would be absolutely no later than 14 days after the final game of the World Series). Otherwise, a Draft-Excluded Player can be non-tendered on 12/2, traded, or released. Draft-Excluded players presently on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster are Jason Adam, Scott Effross, Trent Giambrone, Michael Hermosillo, Nick Martini, Alfonso Rivas, Adrian Sampson, and Trayce Thompson, plus any Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguer who is added to the 40 by the 11/19 roster filing deadline (TBA). So these players cannot be outrighted to the minors during the last part of November, all of December, all of January, all of February, and the first part of March. That's why a club might want to non-tender one or more of these players on 12/2 if the player is not sent outright to the minors by the 14th day after the final game of the World Series, because the club might believe it will need the player's slot on the 40 during the off-season for a free-agent signing, a waiver claim, or a Rule 5 Draft pick, and if the player is not dropped from the 40 by 12/2, the club is basically stuck with him up until mid-March. (While a club could release a Draft-Excluded player after 12/2 to clear the player's slot on the 40, the player could be claimed off Outright Release Waivers for just $1, and even if he isn't claimed off release waivers and the player becomes a free-agent and could be re-signed by the club that released him, a player on an MLB 40-man roster who is released after August 31st cannot be added back to the MLB 40-man roster of the club that released the player until May 15th, and most players would not want to have that restriction going into Spring Training).
2. MLB RULE 9 PLAYER (formerly MLB Rule 55 player): An MLB Rule 9 player is any player on an MLB 40-man roster who would have automatically been declared a minor league free-agent at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series if he had been on a minor league roster at that time. These players cannot be sent outright to the minors after 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of World Series unless and until the player has signed a 2022 contract (and contracts aren't tendered until 12/2, and even then, the player doesn't have to sign it, and the club can't auto-renew the player's previous contract until March 1st). MLB Rule 9 players presently on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster are: Jason Adam (is also a Draft-Excluded player), Adbert Alzolay, Scott Effross (is also a Draft-Excluded player), P. J. Higgins, Alec Mills, Frank Schwindel, Justin Steele, and Brad Wieck. So if the Cubs believe they will need the 40-man roster slots of any of these players by the 11/19 roster filing deadline they will need to be outrighted no later than the 5th day after the final game of the World Series. Otherwise, the player could be non-tendered on 12/2 and then subsequently be re-signed to a minor league contract (preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft), except that doesn't open up a 40-man roster slot for a player the Cubs might want to protect from selection in the Rule 5 Draft by adding him to the 40 by the 11/19 roster filing deadline. Otherwise, the Cubs would be stuck with these guys until March 1st.
3. MLB ARTICLE XX-D PLAYER: These are players who have accrued at least three years of MLB Service Timer but less than five years of MLB Service Time, or who have been outrighted to the minors previously in their career, or have "Super Two" status for salary arbitration. Players with MLB Article XX-D rights on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster right now are Sergio Alcantara, David Bote, Ian Happ, Michael Hermosillo, Jonathan Holder, Nick Martini, Trevor Megill, Rafael Ortega, Michael Rucker, Adrian Sampson, Kohl Stewart, Trayce Thompson, Rowan Wick, and Patrick Wisdom. Bote, Happ, Ortega, Wick, and Wisdom are probably safe and secure on the 40, but the other nine guys are the ones the Cubs would most want to non-tender and then subsequently re-sign to a minor league contract (preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft) - IF - the player wasn't dropped from the 40 prior to 11/19 and the Cubs believe the player's roster slot might be needed during the off-season. Of course, it's possible that the Cubs wouldn't care if the one of more of these players gets claimed off waivers or elects free-agency after being outrighted, but if they do care, then non-tendering the player on 12/2 and then (hopefully) re-signing him to a minor league contract (preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft) is the way to go. But again, a non-tender on 12/2 will - NOT - open up a roster slot to add a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to the 40 by the 11/19 roster filing deadline.
4. MLB ARTICLE XIX-A PLAYER: These are players on the 40 who have accrued at least five years of MLB Service time. They can't even be outrighted to the minors without their consent, so if the Cubs want to drop any of these guys from the 40, they just need to notify the player of their intention and then the player can either elect free-agency without being outrighted, or choose to remain on the 40 and then become an Article XX-B FA on the day after the final game of the World Series, or for Article XIX-A players with less than six years of MLB Service Time (like Rex Brothers and Adam Morgan), either be non-tendered on 12/2, or released, but that's only if the player is unsigned.
5. An injured player normally cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers after the 11/19 roster filing deadline. The only exception is a player with less than three years of MLB Service Time who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season, has not been outrighted previously in his career, and who was not selected in the prior Rule 5 Draft (Miguel Amaya, Alexander Canario, Anderson Espinoza, Brailyn Marquez, Rafael Morel, and Alexander Vizcaino), plus any Rule 5 Draft-eligible player the Cubs might add to the 40 by 11/19. These players can be sent to the minors - EVEN IF INJURED - by optional or outright assignment up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day. If the player is also a Draft-Excluded player (like any Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguer the Cubs might add to the 40 by the 11/19 roster filing deadline), then the player can be sent to the minors (if injured) only during a five-day window beginning 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day (the first day that a Draft-Excluded player can be sent to the minors) up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day (the last day that a player who accrued no MLB Service Time during the previous season can be sent to the minors.
So the only players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster right now who have no restrictions and can be sent outright to the minors at any time (presuming the player is not claimed off waivers), either now, next month, or anytime next year, are Cory Abbott, Miguel Amaya, Alexander Canario, Greg Deichmann, Anderson Espinoza, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal, Brailyn Marquez, Christopher Morel, Tommy Nance, Manuel Rodriguez, Keegan Thompson, and Alexander Vizcaino.
In general, MLB clubs would prefer to non-tender a player who is out of minor league options and then re-sign the player to a minor league contract (preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft) if the player has some value to the club but is not assured of an Opening Day 26-man roster slot. So players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who are out of options and who are more-or-less "on the bubble" for an Opening Day 26-man roster slot like Sergio Alcantara, Michael Hermosillo, Trayce Thompson, and Brad Wieck are definite 12/2 non-tender candidates for that reason. (Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills are out of options but are not candidates to get non-tendered, while Rafael Ortega is out of options but would appear to be fairly certain of a spot on the Cubs MLB 26-man Opening Day roster at this time, although maybe not as certain as Alzolay and Mills).
Also, unsigned players on the 40 who are eligible for salary arbitration are sometimes non-tendered if the player and the club cannot come to an agreement on a contract by the contract tender date (12/2) and the club doesn't want to take a chance of losing to the player in an arbitration hearing. Cubs players eligible for salary arbitration post-2021 are Willson Conteras (lock to be tendered). Ian Happ (will likely be tendered after excellent August & September), Adam Morgan (not likely to be tendered but has outside shot if he is still on the 40 on 12/2), Rex Brothers (almost certainly will not be tendered), and Jonathan Holder (will almost certainly will not be tendered). In fact, Brothers and Holder (and possibly Morgan) could be dropped from the 40 sometime within the next week. (Rowan Wick will probably be eligible for salary arbitration as a"Super Two," but he's right at the 2+114 MLB Service Time post-2021 "Super Two" cut-off and the post-2021 MLB Super Two list hasn't been officially announced by MLB yet).
So which players are most likely to be dropped from the 40 prior to the 11/19 roster filing deadline?
1. P. J. Higgins (on 60-day IL - TJS rehab) - Rule 9 player so outright assignment deadline for him is 5th day after final game of World Series
2. Jonathan Holder (on 60-day IL - right shoulder strain) - has Article XX-D rights & would almost certainly elect free-agency if outrighted
3. Kohl Stewart (on 60-day IL - right elbow inflammation) - has Article XX-D rights & would almost certainly elect free-agency if outrighted
4. Trent Giambrone - Draft-Excluded player so outright assignment deadline for him is 14 days after final game of World Series
5. Nick Martini - Draft-Excluded Player so outright assignment deadline for him is 14 days after final game of World Series - has Article XX-D rights & would almost certainly elect free-agency if outrighted
6. Rex Brothers - has Article XIX-A rights & would almost certainly elect free-agency if outrighted - or could just get released
7. Adam Morgan - has Article XIX-A rights & would almost certainly elect free-agency if outrighted - or could just get released.
If all seven are dropped from the 40 by the 11/19 deadline, four slots on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster would be opened for the two Rule 5 Draft-Eligible players who are the most-likely to get added to the 40 by 11/19 (RHRP Ethan Roberts and OF Nelson Velazquez), plus a couple of more (TBD).
Or the Cubs could open up a 40-man roster slot prior to the 11/19 deadline for a potential waiver claim (clubs sometimes get into a roster logjam at the roster filing deadline and put a decent prospect waivers, and the Cubs have the #7 waiver claim priority through the 30th day of the 2022 MLB regular season), or to acquire an MLB player from another club in a trade, like they did in November 2018 when they obtained RHRP Rowan Wick from the Padres in exchange for minor league INF Jason Vosler when the Padres needed Wick's slot on the 40 but couldn't place him on waivers (he was a Draft-Excluded player at the time), and they couldn't wait until 12/2 to non-tender him, either.
And what about Cubs 12/2 non-tender candidates?
Higgins, Holder, Stewart, Martini, Giambrone, and Brothers would very likely be non-tendered if they are still on the 40 past 11/19 even if they do not agree to sign a 2022 minor league contract, but if Morgan gets this far he might stay on the 40 as long as he gives up the possibility of going to salary arbitration and signs a 2022 MLB contract for whatever salary the Cubs offer.
LIKELY WILL BE NON-TENDERED (just because they are out of options):
1. Trayce Thompson (Draft-Excluded Player who is out of minor league options)
2. Michael Hermosillo (Draft-Excluded Player who is out of minor league options)
3. Brad Wieck (had August cardiac surgery and is out of minor league options)
4. Sergio Alcantara (out of minor league options options)
Again, taking a 40-man roster player who is out of minor league options to Spring Training limits a club's roster flexibility when establishing the Opening Day roster, and so (whenever possible) it's better to bring these players to Spring Training on a minor league deal (NRI) so that the club can send to the player to the minors prior to MLB Opening Day without having to first secure waivers.
5. Jason Adam (Draft-Excluded Player)
6. Adrian Sampson (Draft-Excluded Player)
7. Scott Effross (Draft-Excluded Player)
NON-TENDERED ONLY IF PLAYER'S 40--MAN ROSTER SLOT IS EXPECTED TO BE NEEDED AFTER 12/2:
8. Tommy Nance
9. Michael Rucker - can elect free-agency if outrighted
10. Trevor Megill - can elect free-agency if outrighted
Players #5-7 are not out of minor league options but they are Draft-Excluded Players and so they cannot be outrighted after mid-November. Players #8-10 are not out of minor league options and they also are not Draft-Excluded Players, so for them it's just a matter of removing the player from the 40 so as to not have to risk losing the player off waivers later in the off-season (and Megill and Rucker can elect free-agency if outrighted), should the player's slot on the 40 suddenly be needed for a free-agent signing or waiver claim, so if possible, it's better to remove the player from the 40 in advance by non-tender. Again, not ALL of these players need to be non-tendered. In fact NONE of them absolutely need to be non-tendered. It would just be desirable.
And keep in mind that just because a player is non-tendered and then re-signed to a minor league contract doesn't mean he doesn't fit into the club's plans for the next season. It's just that he doesn't - DEFINITELY - fit into the club;'s plans, and so the club would prefer to have the roster flexibility to send the player to the minors out of Spring Training if that proves to be the best play.
It gets a bit tricky if a player who has some value to the club declines the offer to sign a minor league contract after being non-tendered, so a club usually will try and gauge a player's willingness to sign a minor league deal before he is non-tendered, and a club will sometimes need to offer the player more money than he would have received if he had remained on the 40 (plus absolutely an NRI to MLB Spring Training) as an enticement to re-up on a minor league deal.
And while sometimes a player will agree in advance to sign a minor league contract after being non-tendered, he might also want to sign it prior to the Rule 5 Draft (rather than waiting until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, which would be the club's preference) so that he has a chance to get drafted by another MLB club.
But the bottom line is, if a player isn't interested in signing a minor league contract and the club doesn't want to lose the player for nothing, it's better to just tender him a contract and then take the chance that the club might lose him off waivers later if his 40-man roster slot is needed.
crunch 2 hours 2 min ago (view)
yanks and wsox fans are both hyped up over this signing by the cubs.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 40 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: I would be very surprised if the Cubs sign anyone with a QO attached, so that rules out Story and Correa. I could see the Cubs maybe acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Phillies as a Phillie salary dump if the Phils sign Correa or Story. Then the Cubs could flip Gregorius at the trade deadline. Gregorius is signed thru 2022 at about $14M. Gregorius could end up back with the Yankees for a year under a similar scenario.
Arizona Phil 3 hours 47 min ago (view)
CRUNCH: Willson Contreras to the Yankees just makes too much sense.
crunch 4 hours 5 min ago (view)
yow...okay, maybe trade watch is very underway.
crunch 4 hours 9 min ago (view)
yan gomes 2/13m cubs.
contreras trade watch underway...maybe...dunno if you can actually count on gomes to catch 120+ games a year. he may be high-end backup/rest with powerful bench option between him and contreras.
crunch 4 hours 15 min ago (view)
j.baez to DET....6/140m
cubs are obviously in the market for a SS, especially since hoerner has been put on notice he could be a ultility player in 2022. it's looking a lot like trevor story time unless he gets priced out.
not too stoked on his bat, but his glove is solid.
Sonicwind75 4 hours 56 min ago (view)
Have to admit that as someone that now lives in Texas and enjoys baseball in general (not just Cubs), will likely head to DFW instead of Houston this summer to get my baseball fix. New stadium, some exciting new players. Guess that covers $100 of those millions they just spent.
I figured the Rangers would make a Jason Werth type of signing this offseason. Overpay to bring in a big time free agent that signals that the organization is transitioning from rebuilding to trying to be competive. Didn't expect them to double down on it.
crunch 21 hours 20 min ago (view)
corey seager signed a deal for 32.5m a year and that means carlos correa is having a really great day.
Dolorous Jon Lester 21 hours 55 min ago (view)
Texas has a wildly expensive middle infield. They've also set the market really high for the remaining SS. And they did it single handedly.
crunch 23 hours 22 min ago (view)
c.seager goes to TEX for 10/325.
they've committed to spend 1/2 billion this week (marcus semien added, too).
meanwhile, the cubs complained to the local paper about how their new multi-million dollar sports betting lounge isn't a casino and they sent out a "cyber monday" ad to offer the great deal of it costing nothing to get on the season tickets waiting list.
it already is and will continue to be a hell of a 24 hours. maybe the cubs will *shrug* i dunno...do something worth talking about.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
BA released their top-10 cubs prospects list...
1. Brennen Davis
2. Cristian Hernandez
3. Brailyn Marquez
4. Pete Crow-Armstrong
5. Jordan Wicks
6. Kevin Alcantara
7. Caleb Kilian
8. Owen Caissie
9. DJ Herz
10. Yohendrick Pinango
reggie preciado got robbed.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
m.scherzer mets 3/130m (wow)
that's more than the entire payroll for PIT last season per year and only a bit less than what BAL, CLE, and MIA paid out.
crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)
both are equally useful to a baseball team.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
The violinist or the camera staring afficionado?
Hagsag 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Taylor Davis might be next.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
STOP THE PRESSES! They signed someone. Some random lefty RP named Locke St.John.
Sounds like a Bond villain.