Cubs MLB Roster

Cubs Organizational Depth Chart
40-Man Roster Info

40 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (roster is full), plus four players are on the 60-DAY IL


28 players are on the MLB ACTIVE LIST, plus seven are on OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENT to minors, two are on the 10-DAY IL, and three are on the 15-DAY IL


Last updated 9-22-20239
 
* bats or throws left
# bats both

PITCHERS: 14
Javier Assad
Jose Cuas
Kyle Hendricks
Mark Leiter Jr
* Luke Little
Julian Merryweather
Daniel Palencia
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele
Marcus Stroman
Jameson Taillon
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski
* Jordan Wicks

CATCHERS: 2
Miguel Amaya
Yan Gomes

INFIELDERS: 6
Nico Hoerner
* Miles Mastrobuoni
Christopher Morel
Dansby Swanson
Patrick Wisdom
* Jared Young

OUTFIELDERS: 6
* Cody Bellinger
Alexander Canario
* Pete Crow-Armstrong
# Ian Happ
Seiya Suzuki
* Mike Tauchman

OPTIONED: 7
Keven Alcantara, OF 
Ben Brown, P  
Brennen Davis, OF 
Jeremiah Estrada, P
Caleb Kilian, P 
* Matt Mervis, 1B 
Michael Rucker, P

10-DAY IL: 2
Jeimer Candelario, 1B
Nick Madrigal, INF

15-DAY IL: 3
Adbert Alzolay, P
Brad Boxberger, P 
Michael Fulmer, P 

60-DAY IL: 4
Nick Burdi, P
Codi Heuer, P
* Brandon Hughes, P
Ethan Roberts, P
 


Minor League Rosters

Rule 5 Draft 
Minor League Free-Agents

Cubs Offseason In Progress

The Chicago Cubs' front office finds itself charting the middle ground again in the aftermath of a 74-88 season. With the most-valued prospects not yet ready for prime time, Hoyer and company has continued to add in places via free agency but appears not to have been given a green light to spend like a real competitor. The Cubs biggest move so far has clearly been the addition of shortstop Dansby Swanson on a 7-year contract that will see him through his age 35 season. In the next tier of moves are Jameson Taillon and Cody Bellinger, each of whom address a roster need on a reasonable budget. On the other side of the ledger, the Cubs front office allowed Willson Contreras to go to the Cardinals on a five year deal despite the North Siders still having gaps in the lineup at Catcher, 1st base, and DH.

What more lies in store before Spring Training? Use the comment section below to discuss further developments.

Comments

Ok, I'll start. Overall, they spent more $$$ than I thought they would. 

SP, OF, and Middle IF greatly improved. C defense is a plus.

If Mervis makes team and hits, 1B/DH also improved.

K. Thompson, Alzolay, Sampson, Hughes, Boxberger, Wick anchor a decent bullpen. Would love another lefty but minor league depth will have to contribute. 

Not a fan of Hosmer, but would rather spend league minimum $$$ on him than $8-10M on Mancini for essentially same production. And he hits LH. 

Spend any extra $$ on extensions for Hoerner and Happ.

 

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In reply to by George Altman

given how little consideration they're giving to 1st, it seems mervis is probably going to get a solid shot at 1st...or he's expected to slot in during 2023.

when eric hosmer is your compliment (not signed yet, just heavily linked) they don't seem to be hedging against mervis.

i was hoping for a b.belt type...hell, i was actually hoping for josh bell.  it doesn't seem like they were even on the cubs radar, though.

makes sense.  mervis doesn't have much left to prove in the minors.  hopefully his game translates to the bigs.

love the pitching, but i wish there was some ob% ability scattered into the lineup.

pretty much every mock lineup has hoerner and his 28 walks leading off.  the rest of the lineup is mostly a 50-60 walk ceiling.  they're going to put the ball in play and hope that makes the magic happen.  there's at least some pop there.

a lot is riding on bellinger not being a bust.  there seems to be no plan B.  suzuki needs to be way less timid in RF.  he played a worse RF than he's capable of last season.

The thing that worries me is that we are counting on a lot of bounce backs (e.g. Bellinger, Bernhardt, Davis, Canario etc.) next year. Some will, but the chances of pulling an inside straight are not great.

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In reply to by azbobbop

Good call

But I'll say that Bellinger is technically holding CF until PCA is ready. If PCA hits in TN, he could see Wrigley in 2023. Maybe not. But, it's in the realm. As for Bellinger, he hit 17 HRs in 2022 and plays good CF and 1B. Even with the SOs, he can still help us with without a true "bounce back".

BDavis, Canario, Velazquez, Suzuki and Happ have the Corners for now. Let's hope Happ and Seiya hit 20 HRs each. ONKC and KAlcantara are coming in two years.

Barnhart and Gomes are just here for Defense. Jed has decided you don't need hits and RBIs from the Catcher spot. Maybe Amaya can get healthy for a year.

We'll have more cash to spend in winter 2023

I'd trade for RDevers now. Just not PCA

We'll see

Why in the world would you strip the farm system in order to bring in a one year player that will be gone before the Cubs are actually a top tier team.  That is a lot like drawing to an inside straight.  

I believe trading for Devers directly relates to AZ Phil's consistent point of how well have you scouted your own farm system?

 

Point: Do the Cubs believe PCA is going to be a 3.5-4.0 WAR Player?

 

Point: Could Jordan Wicks, DJ Herz, or Cade Horton replace Steele in the rotation by April, 2024?

 

Then, is Ricketts prepared to go 12-13 years on a contract with Devers?

 

I really don't see Boston settling for a Alcantara, Kilian, Morel type deal, and why should they?

They should if they are not sure that they can sign him to a long term contract themselves.  Nor should the Cubs make that trade unless they have an agreement to an acceptable extension already in place.

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In reply to by DavidP

I understand, and I hope Boston thinks like that. I doubt that they do.

Also, if Devers is a Boras client, they don't have a track record of signing an extension in place before a trade.

And, my somewhat educated guess is that Boston would get a better prospect package than Alcantara, Kilian and Morel. I agree with Phil that they're going to want PCA, and/or Steele.

PJ Higgins dfa to make room for Tucker Barnhart. I hope he doesn’t get claimed but expect he will.

think it's safe to say at this point the cubs have their SP locked in....

stroman (R) - smyly (L) - taillon (R) - steele (L) - thompson (R)

shift around the 2-3/4-5 maybe...there's a chance a.sampson could show up to spring training with something that turns heads and makes thompson or steele AAA or temp pen material to keep their workload lower and arms fresher.

i have no idea what their plan is for alzolay.  he's got the stuff, but the health and endurance has never been there.  many believe he's an ideal long-relief and emergency starter.  i would like to see him get a chance to close.  i wouldn't complain about anything he does as long as he does it well while he's still cheap.

the fact hendricks isn't expected to start the season 100% ready leads me to believe he's not in opening day plans.  i doubt they've given up on him as a starter out of sheer respect, though...unless hendricks or his skill level says he's not there anymore.

i hate to say it, but i've given up on hendricks at this point in his career.  he very well could figure out how to re-invent himself given his current limitations, but i'm not holding out much hope.  we're all rooting for him to find a successful role, though it's nice to not have to count on it.

having sampson, wesneski, and kilian around has me feeling good about the SP situation beyond what's already the assumed top crew.  i feel really positive about cubs SP, long relief, and AAA/majors pipeline going into 2023.  there's true talent with immediately available depth.

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In reply to by crunch

Agreed on almost all…

Personally, I love KT in the lock-down multi-inning role, so I’d rather see him in the pen. 

For the #5 slot, I’m ok rolling with a combo of Adrian S, HyWz, Hendricks (when healthy) & whoever else they dig up (for which they have a knack).

I think the day-to-day schedule will also have an impact on that #5 slot. Between the UK travel, all star break, & a couple 2 game series w/ off days on either sides, it feels like there are actually more “pauses” or opportunities for rotation reset in the schedule than usual. Flipside is 2 periods of ~25 games w/ only 1 off day. First is at end of April in to May. I think the 2nd is late July into Aug.  

I see some value in optimizing the #5 slot to the particular needs of that day/week/matchup. And to your point, it’s awesome they have the tools to choose that strategy. 
 

Love the idea of trying AdAz in closer or other leverage situations. 
 

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In reply to by First.Pitch.120

Rotation:

Stro-Steele-Taillon-Smyly-Wesneski

Long Man: Sampson

Multi-Inning: Alzolay-Leiter

One-Inning: Boxberger-Hughes-Wick-ManRod

Closer: Keegan

IL: Hendicks-Heuer-ERoberts

Optioned: Rucker-Estrada-Kay-BBrown-RJensen-Kilian-Assad

You hope that ManRod or Estrada can take the Closer role, but Keeg can hold it for a while. I don't trust Wick there. Keeg just wasn't consistent enough as a starter. He has juice as a Reliever. 

Wouldn't mind them adding another RP like Chad Green from Yanks or Fulmer from Tigers. Chafin would probably cost too much, but another LHRP would be nice as well.

You got to think Rucker-Kay-McKinstry-Madrigal-Mastrobuoni are the likely DFAs from here on to make room for any additions. McKinstry stays since he's a lefty bat. Mastrobuoni has value with his options. Madrigal.......I'll leave that alone. Rucker and Kay have options, so there's value there. Leiter is out of options so maybe he gets the boot? We'll see. I didn't think Higgins or Uelman would be DFA'd, but let's hope they stay with us in Iowa.

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In reply to by crunch

I'm not sure Hendricks ever throws another inning for the Cubs. Shoulder injuries on pitchers - not good.

Unless he bombs in Arizona, I would slot Wesneski as SP5. I feel this is a rotation that could take them into the 6th inning 100+ times. I like Keegan, Alzolay and Sampson in the MIRP roles. Not sure you would need much short relief. 

"Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the Cubs are deep in contract negotiations with free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer."

meh.  110% meh.  at least 10% more meh than the maximum allowable limit.

I don’t know how deep Hosmer negotiations would be. He’s got a $13MM contract in place. The only thing that would be negotiable is probably opt out dates or trade protection. I can’t see anyone giving him a bonus to sign.

[ ]

In reply to by azbobbop

Eric Hosmer initially had a full "no trade" in the 8 / $144M contract he signed with San Diego in February 2018, but it became a limited "no trade" after the conclusion of the 2020 season at which point he could block a trade to up to ten MLB clubs each season. However, if he were to be traded, the "no trade" would (once again) become a full "no trade" for the balance of the contract. There was also a  one-time player "opt-out" available to him post-2022, which would be after he had been paid $105M.   

So when he was asked to be part of the package going to Washington in the Juan Soto deal at the trade deadline, Hosmer exercised his "no trade," because the Nationals were among the ten teams to which he could refuse a trade, and in the process he delayed the consummation of the deal. (The Padres sent Luke Voit to Washington instead of Hosmer).

The Padres then almost immediately traded Hosmer to the Red Sox, just minutes prior to the trade deadline. (The Red Sox were not on Hosmer's "no trade" list). San Diego got back one of the Red Sox Top 10 prospects (LHP Jay Groome) in the deal, while the Red Sox got Hosmer and two second / third tier position player prospects, neither of whom are currently among Boston's Top 30 prospects.

The Padres also agreed to pay all of what remained of Hosmer's contract ($13M per year 2023-25), minus the MLB minimum salary -- about $2.2M in aggregate 2023-25, which the Red Sox would have to pay.

Not only that, Hosmer's contract was extremely "front-loaded," so while he would be making only $13M per year over the last three years of the contract, his AAV hit on the Padres 2023-25 is about $18M!   

The Padres probably hoped that Hosmer would opt-out of his contract post-2022, and then they wouldn't have to pay him anything 2023-25, and the $18M AAV would just go away. And if he had been traded to the Washington Nationals, he probably would have opted-out after the season. 

So the Padres essentially "bought" a Top 10 Red Sox prospect (Jay Groome) for $36.8M, with the possibility that Hosmer - MIGHT - opt out post-2022. Also, once he was traded, the partial "no trade" automatically became a full "no trade," and so the Red Sox could not trade him anywhere without his consent.

Unfortunately for the Padres, Hosmer chose not exercise his player opt-out post-2022, keeping the contract (and the $23M AAV hit) in effect.

That's why the Red Sox released him. It wasn't because Hosmer had no value. It was because he now has a full "no trade" and he wanted a contract extension (beyond 2025) in exchange for waiving it. So the Red Sox got two months of Eric Hosmer at MLB minimum salary (most of the two months spent on the IL with lower back inflammation) in exchange for one of their Top 10 prospects (Jay Groome). 

So even though the Padres will be paying most of his salary (minus the MLB minimum) 2023-25, I would think Hosmer will probably want at least a signing bonus if not a contract extension, a full "no trade" (of course), and a player opt out post-2023 and post-2024 so he doesn't get stuck playing for a non-contender. 

AZ Phil: can you update us on your thoughts on Cub pitching prospect Jeremiah Estrada. I recently read a short column on him in BA written by Mark Gonzales, detailing his previous issues with TJ surgery (2019) followed by significant covid illness but 2022 was an upbeat recovery season.  He did make 5 appearances last year starting as a "substitute" player vs the Bluejays.  Upper 90s FB and only 24. He is on the 40-man roster, so he should be in the bullpen as some point in 2023.

AZ Phil: Since we are in 2023, I'm finally catching up with BA past issues. Their issue on the AL/NL central rankings came out in their December issue. Can you do a pre-spring training re-rank of your Cubs top prospects 1-10 with your always-appreciated current views of their talent?

BA list has in order: PCA, Brennen Davis, Kevin Alcantara, Matt Mervis, Cade Horton, Ben Brown, Christian Hernandez, Hayden Wesneski, Miguel Amaya, and Caleb Kilian. 

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In reply to by Cubster

CUBSTER: As I mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, Pete Crow-Armstrong is at the same place right now that Michael Harris II was with the Braves this time last year, coming out of Hi-A and headed to AA. PCA won't be Rule 5 Draft eligible until post-2024, so there is no reason to rush him and call him up to The Show directly from AA, unless he forces the issue. Which maybe he will. Michael Harris did. No question PCA fits a very specific need for the Cubs, that being a LH-hitting CF and lead-off hitter. There is nobody blocking him even if he proves ready during the 2023 season, because Cody Bellinger could always be moved to 1B or dealt at the trade deadline.  

Without the back problems, Brennen Davis is a legit Top 50 MLB prospect, and he can certainly play CF if there is a need for him to do that, but with PCA coming along there really won't be a need for that. So long-term he is more-likely a corner-OF with the plus defensive skills and athleticism you would expect out of a guy who was named State of Arizona defensive player of the year as a junior on his state HS  champion basketball team. Basketball was his first sport, so he needs to stay healthy and get lots of baseball reps at AAA in 2023 to reach his potential. He is the most-likely heir-apparent to Ian Happ in LF in 2024... if his back is 100%.   

Kevin Alcantara is one of those freak talents who could boom or bust. I can see why the Yankees saw a little bit of Aaron Judge in him, with the potential to be a big-time five tool player once he reaches physical maturity. I think his development might be a bit slower than some of the other Cubs  outfield prospects, however, just because there is so much that needs to come together to make everything work for him. He probably has the highest ceiling of any of the Cubs outfield prospects (and not just because he is 6'6!). He also gets four minor league options so he won't be out of options until Spring Training 2027, making him the most-likely eventual heir apparent to Seiya Suzuki in RF. 

I first saw the Matt Mervis HR power at Instructs post-2020 when he launched a monster HR from Field # 1 over the RF screen and off the west exterior wall of Sloan Park (the Cubs Spring Training stadium). I saw him play in the AFL this year, and while I believe he will be a big-time HR hitter in MLB, I really see him as more of a DH than a first-baseman. It's not that he can't play 1B, it's just that he looks a bit stiff around the bag. It should be relatively easy for the Cubs to find an actual first-baseman so that Mervis can DH full-time. 

From the day they signed him, Miguel Amaya has been the Cubs top catching prospect. He is mobile behind the plate and has a strong arm. Offensively he has above-average power, although I am not as convinced about his hit tool / strike-zone management. He is defintely more SLG than AVG and OBP. I remember in his early days at Minor League Camp on the Cubs backfields he was chosen to lead the players in their morning run. He is an actual team leader. No joke. And if you don't think that counts for something, just ask the Cubs player development people. Like with Brennen Davis, Amaya needs to stay healthy. He had TJS in 2021 and a dislocated ring finger and then a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot in 2022, so he didn't get to play in the AFL. He also has yet to play above AA. Fortunately he gets a 4th minor league option in 2023, so he needs to make use of it to master AAA and be ready for MLB absolutely no later than 2024. He reminds me a bit of Benito Santiago. 

I saw a lot of Cristian Hernandez this year in Mesa, first at Minor League Camp, then at Extended Spring Training, then at ACL, and then at Instructs. First thing I noticed is that he is a legit SS. Reminds me a bit of Carlos Correa defensively.  Good range. Strong arm. SS actions. No need to move him to 2B or 3B or CF. He showed plus-HR power at Minor League Camp and at EXST, but in the process he also struck out at a 40% rate (LOTS of swing & miss). That is just not sustainable as he moves up through the system. His swing was altered late in EXST and he continued to work on it in the ACL and at Instructs, and while he cut-down on his swing & miss, his HR-power virtually disappeared. Where is the power? So while he is a definite Top 10 prospect, plays good defense at SS, runs OK, and has HR power, if he has to strike out at a 40% rate to use the power in games, it is going to be difficult for him to reach his potential, because it's not like he is a .300 hitter if he sacrifices the HR power to cut-down on the swing & miss. He will probably be a slow-mover (but hopefully steady) as he progresses through the pipeline, at least until he can get the swing right. Then he can maybe move faster. He isn't Rule 5 Draft eligible until post-2025, so there is absolutely no reason to rush him. 

As far as the pitchers in the Top 10 are concerned, I get Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski, but I would replace Cody Horton and Caleb Kilian with Jordan Wicks and D J Herz.

I saw Horton at Instructs. He threw a bullpen session on the first Saturday in Instructs, and then I didn't see him in uniform again. No "live" BP. No game action. So until I can see him pitch in a pro game or even face hitters in "live" BP, I can't say he is a Top 10 prospect. Maybe he is, We'll see. I hope so!

Kilian took a step backwards in 2022. Not everybody benefits from the Pitch Lab or tinkering with grip, release point, and/or delivery. He needs to get back to where he was in 2021. 

I project Herz as a super "multi-inning reliever" (MIR), a once-through-the-order guy, just like Keegan Thompson and Adbert Alzolay. As I have mentioned here before, I believe with a 13-man maximum pitching staff, clubs will need three MIR, at least one LH and one RH, so that the  match-up against the opposing lineup is most-advantageous when the MIR enters the game, depending on who the SP was.  

Jordan Wicks is a legit LHSP.  I expect him to be in the Cubs starting rotation no later than 2024, maybe sooner.  

Other notable prospects who would be outside my Top 10 are (in no particular order) Horton, Kilian, RF Owen Caissie, RF Alexander Canario (but ONLY if he recovers 100% from the broken ankle), LF Yohendrick Pinango, SS Kevin Made,  SS Ed Howard IV (but only if he comes back 100% from his 2022 hip surgery), 3B James Triantos, 2B Pedro Ramirez, C-DH Moises Ballesteros, 2B Jefferson Rojas, RHSP Porter Hodge, RHP Daniel Palencia (MIR), RHSP Luis Devers, LHP Luke Little (MIR), LHP Drew Gray (2022 TJS), RHSP Javier Assad, RHP Ryan Jensen (MIR), RHRP Zac Leigh (closer), RHP Kohl Franklin (MIR), RHRP Mason McGwire (closer), LHSP Jackson Ferris, and SS / RHP Nazier Mule.     

Thanks Phil, as always, your posts are chock full o solid info and so very much appreciated. Any thoughts on Jeremiah Estrada? 

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

I've seen Jeremiah Estrada quite a bit out here in Mesa because he has spent so much time down here what with the TJS and what not.

Estrada is an example of a pitcher who was probably always going to struggle to throw multiple innings (even as an MIR), but the spike in FB velo that came with throwing just one inning at a time has taken him to the next level.

As with any one inning two-pitch guy with an above average FB and breaking ball, it's possible that he could become a high-leverage MLB reliever, maybe even a closer. 

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

CRUNCH: The Red Sox gave up one of their Top 10 prospects (LHP Jay Groome) to get Eric Hosmer at the trade deadline this past August, after Hosmer rejected a trade to the Washington Nationals (Juan Soto deal).

The Padres picked up nearly 100% of what was left of Hosmer's salary ($13M per season 2023-25 at an AAV of $18M because the contract was front-loaded, with the Red Sox only on the hook for the MLB minimum salary over the next three seasons), but they also got Boston's # 4 pitching prospect (Jay Groome, which would be equivalent to the Cubs trading Jordan Wicks) in return for picking up most of what remained of Hosmer's salary.  

However, Hosmer's partial "no trade" (he could block a deal to ten teams, one of which was the Nats) became a full "no trade" once he was traded to Boston, so the only way the Red Sox could get him off the 40 after Hosmer elected not to exercise his post-2022 opt-out was via trade (except he had a full "no trade") or Outright Release. Which is why they released him. 

Hosmer has been extremely consistent over the past two seasons, hitting 268/334/382 - 108 OPS+ in 2022 and 269/337/395 - 104 OPS+ in 2021, with 12 HR &  28 doubles in 151 games in 2021 and eight HR & 19 doubles in 104 games in 2022 (which pro-rates out to 12 HR & 28 doubles over 151 games). 

So his OPS+ was slightly better than league average over the past two seasons, he hits LH pitching well enough that he doesn't have to be platooned, he has a World Series pedigree, and he is available for the MLB minimum salary 2023-25 (Padres are paying the rest).  

So I don't see why the Cubs signing Hosmer isn't actually a good thing, especially if Matt Mervis is more a DH than a first-baseman at this point in his career, and if the Cubs can  allocate the money they would have had to spend for a FA 1B bat like Trey Mancini or Brandon Belt (let's say) on a veteran FA RP like Andrew Chafin, Matt Moore, Will Smith, Cory Knebel, Michael Fulmer, or David Phelps. 

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In reply to by Childersb3

childersb3: As you know I projected a DFA for Nick Madrigal if the Cubs signed a SS (which they did), so I suspect it is only a matter of time before that happens. Madrigal has no value as a utility player because he  has a rag arm and can only play 2B. Unless (and I really, really, really hope this isn't the case) the Cubs intend to use Madrigal as their primary DH. Madrigal qualifies as a "Super Two" for salary arbitration, so if the Cubs move him (trade him, outright him, or release him), they need to do so before he files for arbitration on January 13th. Also, he can elect free-agency if he is outrighted. One thing about Madrigal is that he does have minor league options available (he has never been optioned to the minors), so I guess the Cubs could keep him on the 40 and stash him at Iowa as insurance in case something happens to Hoerner, and Hoerner could shift to SS and Madrigal could play 2B if Swanson gets hurt.    

The Anthony Kay waiver claim looks (to me) just like the Rylan Bannon claim from a couple of months ago, where the Cubs claim him and then try and outright him themselves. And if he gets claimed, it's no big deal. Kay cannot elect free-agency if he is outrighted, so if Madrigal doesn't get the next DFA, then I would think Kay would. So Kay is a VERY good candidate to get a DFA if a 40-man roster slot is needed.  

No way the Cubs DFA Miles Mastrobuoni. I guarantee you, it is not going to happen. The Cubs gave up a decent RP prospect in Alfredo Zarraga to get him, plus Mastrobuoni has three minor league options left. If that's not enough, Mastrobuoni also is a post-2022 Draft-Excluded Player, meaning he cannot under any circumstances be outrighted (or optioned) to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day.  

Mark Leiter Jr and Zach McKinstry will be out of minor league options beginning in 2023, so they are no longer fungible. (Mastrobuoni is fingible, McKinstry is not). That reduces their 40-man roster value. Leiter and McKinstry should not have been tendered contracts. McKinstry is a Rule 9 player, so he cannot be outrighted to the minors until he signs a 2023 contract (which is why I was surprised that he was tendered a contract), and knowing that, his agent should advise him not to sign his contract until he reports to Spring Training in February. 

The three guys the Cubs have DFA'd recently (Rivas, Uelmen, and Higgins) have no restrictions with respect to being outrighted, but Higgins can elect free-agency even if he is not claimed off waivers. Michael Rucker is in exactly the same class as Higgins. He can be outrighted without restriction (if he isn't claimed), but he can also elect free-agency if he is outrighted. 

Mark Leiter is another one who can elect free-agency if he is outrighted, but not having minor league options available makes that possibility less concerning than it is for Rucker (who does have options left). 

The DFA of Higgins was somewhat surprising / puzzling to me, because he is the Cubs # 3 catcher (at least until Miguel Amaya is ready), and while I believe the Cubs will go with just two catchers (Gomes and Barnhart) instead of three like they did last year (and please do - NOT - DH Gomes or Barnhart, ever!), Higgins would still have value as insurance at AAA. I suspect he will get claimed off waivers, but even if he somehow slips through, he can elect free-agency. So I just don't get the Higgins DFA. Should have been Madrigal, Kay, or Leiter (in that order). 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

One other thing to keep in mind is that injured / rehabbing players can be placed on the MLB 60-day IL beginning on the first official day of Spring Training (the day pitchers & catchers report in mid-February), so additional slots on the 40 can be opened at that time.

RHRP Ethan Roberts (2022 TJS) and OF Alexander Canario (broken ankle and shoulder surgery) can be placed on the 60-day IL if a 40-man roster slot is needed, although the Cubs will not place them on the 60-day IL unless and until a 40-man roster slot is actually needed. 

However, because he did not accrue any MLB Service Time in 2022, Canario can be optioned to the minors (even though he is injured) up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day, and the Cubs would probably prefer to do that rather than place him on the MLB 60-day Il, because players on an MLB 60-day IL accrue MLB Service Time and are paid at the MLB rate ($720K) instead of at the minor league split rate ($117K), and that $600K difference ain't nothing.    

e.uelman traded to PHI for cash... b.wieck signs a 2y minor league deal with the cubs (expected to miss most of 2023 with TJ surgery in july)...

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

When a player who has been Designated for Assignment is traded for "cash considerations" prior to being placed onto Outright Assignment Waivers (which was the case with Erich Uelmen), the cash considerations are - ALWAYS - greater than the $50,000 waiver price, typically $100K (the Rule 5 Draft price) or sometimes even more. 

So the Cubs can (if they wish) use the $100K on two future waiver claims, or maybe on a Rule 5 Draft pick next December. It's a form of deferred compensation, and while "cash considerations" doesn't sound particularly exciting, in most cases it's a better return than a second or third tier prospect out of Single-A.  

Evidently we signed Minor League Catcher Dom Nunez, so Higgins is probably electing free agency. Hope he finds a home.  Hope Miguel Amaya stays healthy.

Amaya/Nunez in Iowa (with Susnara maybe?)

Aliendo/Windham in TN (with Washer ?)  I really liked Aliendo this year. Even in April when I saw him in Ft Wayne he moved well behind the plate. He can hit a little as well.

Hearn/Opitz in SB (with Knight?)  I'm a huge Hearn fan.  Saw him a couple of times this year. 

Ballesteros/Quintero? in MB (with Avitia?)   Moises can hit !!  

Adan Sanchez maybe gets to ACL (he hit well in DSL).

If Jed is still bargain shopping, the Giants put Tommy LaStella on release waivers. He has a big $11.5M contract that the Giants are on the hook for. So he should become a free agent and cost the league minimum to sign ala Hosmer. Might be a good DH/bench option (but Madrigal would have to get moved for that to make sense).

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In reply to by crunch

I would love to see Morel have a chance to be the regular third baseman this year, but I haven't seen any indication that the Cubs are thinking about that at all.  The best I expect is for Morel to bounce around the park whenever some infielder or outfielder gets a little rest.

If Mervis is sent down to begin the season, I wouldn't mind seeing Morel given a chance to play first base, but the signing of Hosmer probably has ended that tiny possibility.

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In reply to by DavidP

Christopher Morel had one of the Top 5 average velo among position players in 2022 (92-96 T-102, which is even better than Oneil Cruz), so I doubt that he will be playing much 1B.

Sending him back to Iowa to work on his approach at the plate and to get lots of low-pressure reps in CF and 3B so as to take better advantage of his plus-plus arm strength would be the smarter play, IMO.

He's only 23, and he is still very much a toolsy work-in-progress, both offensively and defensively. He spent almost no time at AAA before getting called up.

A Mervis/Wisdom platoon at DH until Mervis can get comfortable being the everyday DH would probably be the best approach. Wisdom can also provide a bat-first (really HR-first) back-up four-corner guy (1B-3B-LF-RF)  after Mervis becomes the everyday DH (probably sooner than later). 

I would say 3B is really the one open position right now, and if the Cubs can acquire one in a trade, that would be good. I mentioned Eduardo Escobar last month, but he won't be available if the Mets don't sign Carlos Correa.

It's possible that Wisdom could play mainly 3B and maybe platoon with McKinstry or Mastrobuoni, but ideally he is a platoon DH and four-corner sub.  

I don't think the Cubs will use a revolving DH as much as they did last year, mainly because Gomes and Barnhart should be strictly catchers only. No need to DH either of them, ever.  It was different last season when the Cubs had Contreras, and he needed to DH when he wasn't catching. The Cubs should be able to go with a full-time DH or at least a limited platoon DH combo in 2023

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

Serious question... could Mervis play part-time 3B for a season?  A former 2-way player, he probably has enough arm (even if it isn't +).  It might be ugly at times, but I think given the overall defensive mix I could be fine with that for now.  I think if MM can be better than "historically awful" at fielding 3B then it becomes worth taking a look.  I can see a Mervis-Wisdom-Hosmer-McKinsturboni platoon working for 1B/3B.

 

And personally, I prefer wonky D at 3B instead of 1B.... less involvement in double plays & a misplayed liner or groundball keeps runners at 2B.  When a 1B boots something or lets a liner through, that runner gets to 3rd more often.

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In reply to by DavidP

I’ve assumed the Cubs not signing anyone for 3B means Morel will have a chance to win a share of 3B. I’d guess McKinstry is likely to get the bulk of starts at 3B v. RHP with Morel maybe slotting in at other spots on those days to give guys a day off. Or Morel ends up in Iowa if he struggles (with Bote, Strumpf, and Slaughter in the wings as RH 3B options in Iowa). But I think the Cubs moves this winter signal that McKinstry and Morel are likely the guys at 3B (with Wisdom and Mastrobuoni as options as well). It’s probably their deepest position in terms of MLB and AAA depth at the moment. 

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In reply to by bradsbeard

Sahadev Sharma article at The Athletic mentioned 3B as a position the team still may address and it was the first real mention I’ve seen of the team considering a third baseman. I am hoping they do. I tend to agree with Phil that Morel needs some time in Iowa to work on a few things. I still think he’s a piece for the future but is still quite raw. McKinstry and Mastrobuoni should def not be starters, they should be more utility types. In a perfect world, Phil’s point of Wisdom being the backup/ platoon at the four corner spots strikes me as his ideal role to maximize his strengths.

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In reply to by bradsbeard

unless he has a terrible spring (or even if he does) i imagine bote is breaking with the team.  he plays a great 3rd and a respectable 2nd...hell, he plays the entire infield well.  1st and SS aren't out of his capability.  the bat isn't terrible and there's that whole 9.5m owed the next couple years thing, too.

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In reply to by crunch

There were three primary reasons why the Cubs outrighted David Bote post-2022:

One was that the Cubs needed Bote's 40-man roster slot for another player, the second was the hope that another club would claim his contract (netting the Cubs $3M in AAV savings in both 2023 and 2024), and the third the hope that if he was not claimed off waivers, that Bote would decline the outright assignment, thereby terminating his contract with no termination pay.   

So he was outrighted and accepted the assignment, he gets his money, and he gets an NRI to Spring Training. And the Cubs are charged $3M in AAV in both 2023 and 2024 even if Bote never sniffs MLB again. 

The thing is, Bote is only 89 days shy of five seasons of MLB Service Time, so if he makes the MLB Opening Day roster he cannot be sent to the minors (outrighted - OR - optioned) without his consent beginning on June 21. What the Cubs did with Bote post-2022 they would not be able to do again.  

Therefore, I expect the Cubs will try and include Bote as a partial salary / AAV offset in any trade they might make between now and then, especially if the trade is for a third-baseman (like Eduardo Escobar).  

The Cubs have released 1B Alfonso Rivas. That would fit the profile of a release to allow a player to play in Japan or Korea. If so, Cubs would get a significant release fee, possibly as much as $1M. 

Sounds like PJ got through waivers and is back in Iowa!!

If Iowa has Nunez and Higgins, then Amaya probably starts at AA?

We'll see

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In reply to by George Altman

Miguel Amaya was among the original group of Cubs minor leaguers assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL post-2022, but then the Lisfranc foot injury ended his season and he never got to play in the AFL. Hopefully he will be able to play for Team Panama in the WBC in March. 

Amaya gets a 4th minor league option in 2023 and then he will be out of options in 2024, so it is absolutely imperative that he master AAA in 2023. He has missed so much time over the past three years that it will be difficult to cram enough game reps into just one season, but I am sure the Cubs will try.  

As such, I would expect Amaya to be the #1 catcher at Iowa, and then he will DH or play 1B on days he is not catching. Basically, he needs to be in the lineup at some position (C, 1B, or DH) every day. 

It is possible that he could begin the season at AA Tennessee, but he can't stay there very long, because he - MUST - master AAA in 2023. 

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In reply to by Childersb3

I think Higgins still has the ability to elect FA, so he may or may not be back yet. If he does stay, I'd imagine he and Nunez would compete in ST for the 3rd catcher on the depth chart role (in Iowa), with the loser potentially being released (and I'd guess Higgins would have a leg up there).

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In reply to by bradsbeard

Once outrighted, an Article XX-D player (like Higgins) has 72 hours to decide whether to accept an outright assignment, or decline the assignment and elect free-agency. (It's 48 hours during Spring Training and the MLB regular season). If he declines the outright assignment, his contract is immediately terminated and he receives no termination pay.

If the player accepts the outright assignment, his contract remains in effect and he can elect free-agency beginning on the day after the conclusion of the 2023 MLB regular season up through October 15th, unless he is added back to the 40 in the meantime (in which case he cannot elect free-agency after the conclusion of the regular season). 

Something to keep in mind about an outrighted pre-arbitration player is that because he has been tendered a contract, he would get paid at his minor league split rate.

A player's minor league split salary must be at least $117,400K (split minimum salary in 2023) or at least 50% of what the player was actually paid in salary during the previous season (whichever is higher). Higgins was paid about $600K in 2022, so his 2023 minor league split salary must be about $300K.

So if Higgins has in fact been outrighted to the minors, before he decides whether to accept or decline the assignment, he (or more likely his agent) would need to project whether he would be likely to get $300K on a minor league deal in 2023 from another club. Obviously he is not going to get a major league deal and an MLB 40-man roster slot, because if that was the case he would have been claimed off waivers. 

the twins are the "mystery team" in on correa in case anyone had some hope the cubs were looking anything except scraps and "lower tier of the high tier" pieces.

i assume at this point the cubs are done picking up notable talent.

im not impressed, but im falling short of disappointed.  i was hoping they would do more, but i understand why they didn't.

there's a lot of kids that need to show whether they can produce reliably (morel, mervis, thompson, steele, alzolay, etc).  then there's guys like wesneski, amaya, and PCA who should be 2023/2024 ready...

i expect they're going to spend next year after seeing what does/doesn't work in 2023.  i expect as much, if not more talent additions of note in 2024.

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In reply to by DavidP

I'm feeling pretty good about the off season as well, but withholding final grades. I do think they need another bat. I don't know if it's going to be a game-changing bat, but (in keeping with my other post) I could see the value in something that creates depth or raises the team floor. 

 

Something I saw on MLBTradeRumors made me start pondering Nick Gordon & I'm intrigued.  1) Probably not likely, but I could see MIN be willing to trade him due to their glut of position players (and INF in particular).  2) I'm not dreaming on NG the prospect, but see value in NG the utility player.  His profile (LHH, can play anywhere, no tools are great but none are going to kill you) would make the line-up soooo flexible & deep.

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In reply to by crunch

A slightly different take on the off-season.... while some are skeptical on the ceiling for the team, I already see a significantly higher floor for the group. 

 

(The following #s are rough; I looked at it a couple of days ago)

 

The 2022 Cubs had just under 6100 PAs.  ~1900 of those are returning in the form of Hoerner, Happ, Suzuki, & Gomes.  Wisdom had ~550 PAs - that # should go down a bit & be a bit more optimized as he is platooned at 1B/3B. 

 

Morel, Velazquez, & McKinstry had another ~800.  I think that both Morel & Velazquez will be at AAA for much of the season.  Both will play roles in 2023 & in the future, but if Morel & Vz get 650 PAs in 2023, then we have an issue.  I have some optimism for however the McKinstrobuoni situation shakes out.

 

Subtract Willson (~490 PA) and that leaves ~2350 PA of just-plain-bad.  Avg OPS+ for that group of 16 players was something like 73.  That is almost 40% of the total PAs for the season.

Still hoping Jed adds some Bullpen help

Fulmer, Chafin, Moore, maybe Fujinami ??

I know Fujinami would cost the posting fee and has had a history of walks, but he was better last yr in a pen role and has elite stuff! I'd gamble on him. 

But we do have Cam Sanders, Estrada, ManRod, BLittle, and eventually RJensen who could help the pen from within this system. Maybe that's enough.

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In reply to by Childersb3

Besides their own "in house" likely NRI to MLB Spring Training (Leeper, Correa, B. Little, Sanders, Horn, and Leigh), the Cubs have (so far) signed five FA relievers to 2023 minor league contracts and all will likely get an NRI to MLB Spring Training: 

Ryan Borucki, LHRP 
Roenis Elias, LHP (MIR) 
Nick Neidert, RHP (MIR) 
Vinny Nittoli, RHRP 
Eric Stout, LHRP 
 
The Cubs also selected RHRP Nick Burdi in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and he will likely get an NRI to MLB Spring Training, too. 

The way to build an MLB bullpen is by casting a wide net and keeping an open mind. Relief pitchers can come from anywhere. Just wait and see what develops. 

diamondbacks sign pj higgins to a minor league deal with spring invite.  carson kelly and gabriel moreno are expected to be the main catchers in ARZ, so he'll probably end up in AAA waiting for an injury to someone.

Hello everyone, new commenter here but longtime lurker.

I've read a lot of discourse about Morel's role at least for the start of 2023. IMO he gets the lions share of reps at 3B mainly for 2 reasons. 1. They tried him as a CF last year and it didn't work. Not saying he won't still get reps there but I think we learned that he is better in the IF. 

2. There's two potentially really good 3B in next years FA class. Chapman and Machado if he opts out. With the dearth of IF talent in the minors RN that seems to be the weak spot of the system. Morels ability to handle 3B and get semi-everyday ABs can answer a lot of questions for the Cubbies. Even if it means still going after Machado and using Morel or somebody else as trade bait.

I would love to see the Cubs play Morel at third base full time until he proves he can't do it.  But unfortunately, he was as bad at third base as he was at Center.  I think that he would improve greatly if he was left to play just one position, but that doesn't seem to be the Cubs plan for him.

Hosmer signing official. Leiter Jr gets the DFA. I guess we can resequence the next odd man out list. Also Rivas goes to Padres on minors deal and McCutcheon returns to the Pirates as a sort of homecoming.

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In reply to by crunch

It is a little surprising but he’s on the older side and is out of options. He very possibly wouldnt have made the opening day roster and have needed to be DFA’d anyway. I’d guess the decision was him or Rucker, and while Rucker wasn’t as effective, flexibility at the back of the bullpen is incredibly important with 8 guys maximum.

the lack of movement on i.happ is leaving me wondering if he's going to not be a cub sometime soon...

I think that Brennan Davis and PCA are extremely likely to be in LF/CF in 2024.  If they are not, it is because Davis doesn't recover from his back injury.

Keeping Happ after this season would be foolish, since it would literally mean giving up on what is the stength of their farm system.  Hopefully, they will trade Happ in July, and let Brennan get a full trial.  The Cubs do not have enough talent to allow Happ go without receiving compensation beyond a second round pick.

mark grace and shawon dunston 2023 cubs HOF members.  neat.

dunston may not have been great, but he was around a long time doing dunston things.  mark grace ruled, nuff said.

Fujinami to A's for 3.9mil with posting fee

Trade bait, sure, but if he commands the stuff as a RP then Billy is getting a lot of phone calls come June to July!!

in non-shocking news, hendricks not expected to be ready for opening day.

in his words... "That might be pushing it a little bit... but it's very close around that time."

Jed says they aren't done adding guys, yet

"Working on some things"

Links to Mancini are back

Got to think a RP is on the table as well.

Leiter is now gone, and Kyle is out to start the yr, so the Pen has:

Sampson, Keeg, Alzolay, Hughes, Boxberger, Wick, then three of Rucker, ManRod, Estrada, and Kay

AZ Phil told me this week to be patient and build the pen through depth. 

I know he isn't wrong but I don't trust Wick and Rucker. 

We'll see

Cubs linked to Chafin and Moore now

Also, teams are asking for McKinstry in trade discussions. LH Utility INF bats are hard to come by.

Mastrobuoni could replace him

Mervis making the Opening Day roster doesn't look good.

Hosmer and Mancini will be 1B/DH combo.

Man.......they just don't trust Mervis' production from last yr. From A+ to AA to AAA to AFL. He did all he could. 

I like the Mancini signing. Didn't mind the Hosmer signing. I just didn't think they'd sign both.

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In reply to by Childersb3

It’s not that they don’t trust it, but they are not having to totally rely on it being for real. The fact is, Mervis and Hosmer will make the same salary from the Cubs’ standpoint. If Mervis lools good in ST and Hosmer looks like toast, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to go with Mervis and let Hosmer go. Mancini actually gives them a little extra security in the event they do pick Mervis over Hosmer out of ST, and then Mervis struggles and needs to be sent down or whatever. 

[ ]

In reply to by bradsbeard

Wholeheartedly agree

Could keep all three of Mancini, Mash and Hosmer. There is a way:

Let Madrigal go

Morel is Super Sub. 3B, backup Mid INF and 4th OF/Backup CF

McKinstry is backup 3B and backup Mid INF

Mancini is Platoon 1B/DH and 5th OF

Even Wisdom can play LF a little

Madrigal doesn't add a lot off the bench.

I read where he's worked out at 3B this offseason. Not a fan of that. 

Only down side of this scenario is will Mash get enough ABs? He has to share 1B and DH with Hosmer and Mancini. They rotate it.

Two pretty important spots there at 1B and DH. We need pop and RBIs from those two slots.

Just don't think Madrigal even hitting 300 off the bench with his singles gives us what we need.

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In reply to by Childersb3

They wouldn't need to add Mervis to the 40 until the end of spring training. By then there may be open roster spots anyway. At this point I think they want to hold on to Madrigal (or McKinstry)through spring training. A trade is available if other teams have injury issues. At this point I dont think any team wants to go into the season with Madrigal as their starting 2B, but he is a +WAR player. And who knows, Cubs might find themselves in a position where they're glad they kept surplus. 

I wouldn't fret about the exact makeup of the 26 man roster right now.

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In reply to by Childersb3

FWIW, Manuel Rodriguez does NOT have the right to elect free-agency if he gets outrighted.

However, he would probably be a more-attractive waiver claim candidate than Leiter because Rodriguez has one minor league option left (albeit a fourth minor league option that must be spent in 2023 or else it goes away) and is therefore still "fungible" in 2023, whereas Leiter is out of minor league options in 2023.  

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

As is the case with Manuel Rodriguez, Anthony Kay has a minor league option available in 2023 and he does NOT have the right to elect free-agency if he is outrighted.

If and when Julian Merryweather is DFA'd (it is just a matter of when), Merryweather (like Mark Leiter Jr) is out of minor league options in 2023, making him a less-attractive waiver claim candidate than Rodriguez or Kay, but unlike Leiter, Merryweather does NOT have the right to elect free-agency if he is outrighted.

So Kay and Rodriguez are totally fungible and thus would be more attractive waiver claim candidates than guys who are out of options (Leiter and Merryweather) and a bit more attractive than a guy who can elect free-agency if outrighted (Michael Rucker and also Leiter again).   

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

Phil,

We'd only DFA Merryweather if we were to add another Free Agent or waiver claim, correct?  More than likely an arm for the Bullpen?  

So, Jed has been playing hide the reliever here lately waiting for one or two veteran RPs to figure out there market?

As of now, we're at 21 arms total on the 40-man. It's likely to stay there, right? Heuer might get the 60 Day IL assignment, but ERoberts will be optioned and on the MiLB IL to save cash (same with Canario)? Maybe Hendricks gets the 60 Day IL? So at max Jed could add two guys to the 40-man late in ST if necessary?

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In reply to by Childersb3

Not Phil of course, but I think Roberts has to go on the MLB IL because he spent time on the active roster last year and/ or the injury was incurred while on the MLB roster (and the subsequent worse injury on a rehab assignment).

Canario I think can be optioned because he did not spend any time on the 26 man roster last year.

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In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

Gotcha.

That's interesting since all guys on the 60IL at the end of the season have to be taken off the 60IL. It would seem that would allow them to be optioned, but saving cash isn't my/our problem. That's Jed's!!

It would be nice to have another 40-man spot open up if you're right, though, in case we needed it.

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In reply to by Childersb3

childersb3: Generally speaking, injured or rehabbing players cannot be optioned to the minors. The one exception is that a player who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season can be optioned to the minors beginning on the first official day of Spring Training (the day pitchers & catchers report) up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day. 

For the Cubs, this means that only Kevin Alcantara, Miguel Amaya, Ben Brown, Alexander Canario, Brennen Davis, and Ryan Jensen can be optioned to the minors - EVEN IF INJURED OR REHABBING FROM AN INJURY -- up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day.

So let's say Brennen Davis's back is bothering him a bit during Spring Training. Not enough to place him on the 60-day IL, but enough where he is not healthy enough to play for a few days and would ordinarily have to begin the 2023 season on the MLB 10-day IL. However, because Davis did not accrue any MLB Service Time in 2022, the Cubs wouldn't have to place him on their MLB 10-day IL. They can just option him to the minors (as long as they do so at least 15 days prior to MLB 2023 Opening Day).  

In the case of the MLB 60-day IL, there are pros & cons with respect to optioning an injured player to the minors instead of placing the player on the MLB 60-day IL. 

Let's take the case of Alexander Canario, who will likely miss the entire 2023 season. 

On one hand, if an injured or rehabbing player (like Canario) is optioned to the minors by the 15th day prior to MLB Opening Day, the player can be paid at the minor league split salary rate instead of at the MLB rate.  In the case of Canario, the difference would be $720K (MLB rate) versus $117K (minor league split rate), which is a difference of about $600K in both actual payroll and AAV toward the CBT threshold. The player would also not accrue any MLB Service Time while on optional assignment, and if the player misses the entire 2023 season, he could be optioned to the minors again (even if he is still injured and or rehabbing) up until 15 days prior to 2024 MLB Opening Day.  

On the other hand, placing Canario on the MLB 60-day IL would open up his slot on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster for another player, and Canario could be placed on the MLB 60-day IL as soon as the first official day of 2023 MLB Spring Training (the day pitchers & catchers report). Also, he would not burn an option year (which he would if he were to be optioned to the minors by the 15th day prior to MLB Opening Day). Note that Canario will get a 4th minor league option in 2024 no matter what the Cubs do, so even if he is optioned to the minors in 2023 he would still have one minor league option left in 2024. However, if he were to be placed on the MLB 60-day IL instead of being optioned to the minors in 2023, he would have two minor league options left (2024 and 2025) instead of just one (2024). 

So as I said, there are pros and cons with both choices.

Again... 

1. Option Canario to the minors and the Cubs save $600K in payroll and AAV toward the CBT threshold (and the CBT threshold could become an issue for the Cubs very soon, depending on whether they sign one or two FA RP), and also Canario doesn't accrue MLB Service Time, which means he would be a year further away from MLB free-agency and he could be optioned to the minors at least 15 days prior to 2024 MLB Opening Day if he has not yet recovered 100% from his leg / ankle / shoulder surgeries. 

2. Place him on the MLB 60-day IL as soon as the first official day of Spring Training and a slot on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster would become readily available for another player, AND Canario would not burn an option year, meaning he would still have two minor league options left (2024 AND 2025, instead of just 2024). 

If I had to guess, I would say that the Cubs will select  choice # 1, and option Canario to the minors by the 15th day prior to 2023 MLB Opening Day, thus saving $600K in 2023 payroll and AAV and keeping Canario from accruing MLB Service Time in 2023 so that he can be optioned to the minors again in Spring Training 2024 in case he has not yet recovered 100% from his injuries. 

The players who are likely to be placed on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL on the first official day of Spring Training (presuming their slots are needed for other p[layers) are Ethan Roberts and Codi Heuer, mainly because both accrued MLB Service Time in 2022 and therefore cannot be optioned to the minors until they are healthy enough to pitch. (BTW, Heuer accrued a full season of MLB Service Time in 2022 because he spent the entire season on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL). 

So the Cubs should have as many as two slots on the 40 available right at the start of Spring Training (if they need them), because Roberts and Heuer can be placed on the MLB 60-day IL as early as the first official day of Spring Training. 

However, keep in mind that if a player is placed on the MLB 60-day IL during Spring Training, he must spend the first 60 days of the MLB regular on the IL, and cannot be reinstated until the 61st day of the MLB regular season (May 30th). So a club would want to make sure that a player who is placed on the 60-day IL is actually going to miss the first two months of the regular season.  

One other thing.

The rule regarding optioning injured players to the minors also applies to outright assignments, so Canario or any of the other players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster who did not accrue any MLB Service Time in 2022 could theoretically be outrighted to the minors (presuming the player is not claimed off waivers) even if he is injured or rehabbing from an injury up until the 15th day prior to MLB 2023 Opening Day, with one slight variance.

ANY injured or rehabbing player on an MLB 40-man roster (even players who accrued MLB Service Time the previous season) can be outrighted to the minors during a window beginning on the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season up until the roster filing deadline in November. So (for example) Ethan Roberts could have been outrighted to the minors (presuming he wasn't claimed off waivers) during that window post-2022, but now that window is closed and thus he cannot be outrighted to the minors until he is healthy enough to pitch. He can get released, but he can't be outrighted at this time.

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

One more thing with respect to optioning a player to the minors who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season. 

If the player is a Draft-Excluded Player (like K. Alcantara, B. Brown, B. Davis, and Jensen are), he cannot be optioned to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day. And if he is injured or rehabbing, he can be optioned only up until the 15th day prior to MLB Opening Day.  

So for a Draft-Excluded Player who did not accrue any MLB Service Time the previous season, the player almost always is optioned to the minors during the five-day window between the 20th day prior to MLB Opening Day and the 15th day prior to MLB Opening Day (unless the player is expected to make the club's MLB Opening Day roster). 

BTW, the Cubs have four other Draft Excluded Players on their MLB 40-man roster (Assad, Estrada, Wesneski, and Mastrobuoni) who cannot be optioned or outrighted to the minors any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day, but each of them accrued MLB Service Time in 2022, so unlike K. Alcantara, B. Brown, B. Davis, and Jensen, they cannot be sent to the minors if they are injured during the course of Spring Training. 

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Mark Leiter Jr has been outrighted previously in his career, so he has Article XX-D rights and therefore has the right to elect free-agency after being outrighted.

Just like P. J. Higgins, Leiter can either accept the outright assignment and retain his 2023 contract (about $250K minor league salary), or become a FA with no termination pay. He has 72 hours to decide.

Obviously he will not get a major league contract and a 40-man roster slot from another club if he elects free-agency, because if that was the case he would have been claimed off waivers. But that didn't stop P. J. Higgins from electing free-agency and then signing a 2023 minor league contract with the Diamondbacks after he was outrighted.  

So would Leiter rather come to Spring Training with the Cubs with a (likely) $750K MLB salary if he makes the Cubs Opening Day MLB 26-man roster or else probably about $250K guaranteed if he doesn't make the MLB Opening Day roster and starts the season at AAA Iowa, or would he rather get a fresh start with another MLB organization, even if it's for less minor league $$$. 

Phil,

If I was in Leiters shoes I would elect Free Agency. Is it possible, if not unprecedented, for Leiter to reject the assignment but still resign with the same time as a free agent?

I'm thinking that he seems like the type of fringe player who may be able to recieve a MIL deal with an opt out or a split contract.

[ ]

In reply to by IACub

IA CUB: Yes. Leiter could elect free-agency and then re-sign with the Cubs under terms more favorable to him, like more minor league $$$, or one or more opt outs during the course of the 2023 season, presuming the Cubs would be cool with that. 

What you would not want to do if you are Leiter is elect free-agency and then get a worse deal with another organization than what you would have had if you had accepted the outright assignment.

So if Leiter elects free-agency and then subsequently re-signs with the Cubs under more-favorable terms (for him), the deal would probably have to be in place prior to Leiter electing free-agency, and I do not know how the Cubs would feel about a re-negotiation of terms in advance, since it would set a precedent that they might not want repeated. 

But it is possible that Leiter will elect free-agency and then subsequently re-sign with the Cubs. It happens sometimes when a player is non-tendered and then re-signs with the same club. 

Kay DFA'd to make room for Mancini

Jed trying to stack up that Iowa Pen

AZ Phil told me/us the best way to create a bullpen is a mass volume of arms and see who can stand out

I get that not everyone will go to Iowa, but that pen will be overloaded even with inevitable injuries

Good thing I guess

these cubs off-season moves have been neat and all, but why hasn't 3rd base coach willie harris been signed to a 10 year contract extension yet?  get the real work done, cubs...

cubs sign ex-MIN bullpen arm tyler duffey (RHP) to a minor league deal.  he lost velocity and became a bit too hitable last year.

More lists...

BP just came out with their top Cub prospect list. Slightly different than the BA list.

Top 10: PCA. Owen Caissie. Mash Mervis. Wesneski. Brennen Davis. Kevin Alcantara. Cade Horton. Jordan Wicks. James Triantos. Ben Brown.

Next, 11-20: Canario. Daniel Palencia. Amaya. Cristian Hernandez. Jackson Ferris. DJ Herz. Luis Devers. Moises Ballesteros. Javier Assad. Luke Little. 

The accompanying article is by Jeff Paternostro.

Liked this overview comment though. "The State of the System: This farm system should be better after trading Yu Darvish, Javier Báez, Anthony RizzoKris BryantDavid Robertson, and Scott Efross, but it is pretty good all in all."

https://www.baseballprospectus.com/prospects/article/80033/2023-prospects-chicago-cubs-top-prospects/. (subscription required).

By the way, our AZ Phil has an awesome (and of course comprehensive) listing of all the Baseball America Cub prospect rankings from 1988 to 2023. It can be viewed on the top of the TCR website, AZ Phil's Corner, BA Cubs Top Ten Prospects. 

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In reply to by Cubster

Keith Law's Top 100 list came out and had PCA at 26, Jaguar at 29 and BDavis at 50

Nice to see someone believe in Alcantara that much.  6-6 with pop, speed and smoothness. He's already gained weight from his 16-17 year old build. He's only 20 this yr. He'll get stronger and Law believes he'll stay fast enough to be a legit CFer.

Rizzo and Javy bequeathed us two guys we don't ever produce.  Lefty hitting CF lead-off guy and a huge speedy CFer with pop. We lost a lefty and righty and got a lefty and righty back. 

And if Brennan can stay healthy I'd like to see what he can do in Iowa for a full stretch (note I didn't say full year, just a full stretch, whatever that means).

Fun times folks

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In reply to by Cubster

I dunno about that “should be better” comment. All of those trades besides Darvish and Efross were for expiring contracts. They got a consensus top 50 prospect for Baez, a near consensus top 100 for Rizzo, and one top 100 guy and change for Darvish. I don’t how much better of a season Canario could have had as the Bryant return, and the injury is obviously just bad luck, though it’s fair to question Kilian I guess. Brown wasn’t a good enough get for 2 months of David Robertson? And Wesneski continues to just be ignored by the prospect publications for reasons I don’t understand. 

If you trade for prospects, many of them will fail.  The trick is to get enough that succeed, to compensate for those who fail.  At the time of the trade, it is impossible to tell with any degree of certainty which ones will succeed and which will fail.  Right now, it looks like we got a very good return for the combined trades of Darvish, Bryant, Baez and Rizzo, especially if you include the secondary trades such as Robertson, etc.  

PCA, Cassie, Palencia, Alcantara, Brown and others are a pretty good haul for a handful of guys that we would have otherwise lost to free agency by now.  Looking at  individual trades is rather meaningless, since we could not have known at the time how each would turn out.  Taken as a group, they look quite good.

i dunno how many people have been taking advantage of joining the MLB Player's Alumni Association (MLBPAA) for $25 to get 50% off mlb.tv, but that perk of membership seems to have been removed from the membership perks list.

hopefully it's some paperwork thing or they're not finished shoring up their offerings.

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In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

As of today:

1Keeg, 2Alzolay, 3Hughes, 4Box, 5Wick (not a fan, unless his velo stays up), 6Sampson (Swing Man b/c I have Wesneski in Rotation), 7Rucker or 7Estrada (they seem to like Rucker but both of options), 8Merryweather (until he's DFA'd to be stashed in Iowa??)

The Merryweather slot is used for adding a LHRP (let's hope).

Fulmer is still unsigned.  Wouldn't mind adding him in the Rucker/Estrada spot. Maybe even Wick's spot. We probably don't have the sub-luxury tax space to do that.

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In reply to by Childersb3

Feel like this is pretty close to what we’re going to have. Though if I were to guess, if Wesneski makes the team he starts out the year in the pen. Keeps his innings down, allows him to continue to grow at the big league level without the pressure of starting.

The idea of signing Fulmer is interesting. Since the beginning of the off-season i was under the impression they would sign 3 relievers with at least one of them being a lefty. But Hoyer's comment about the cost or relievers this off-season made me wonder if the Merryweather claim was them conceding to the market. I'd wager some gold chocolate coins they sign a lefty (chafin🤞) but id be pleasantly surprised if they get another proven reliever

MLB Player's Alumni Association vs Savannah Bananas...March 11, ESPN, 3 game series.

if you're not familiar with the Savannah Bananas, get familiar.  this could be very fun to watch, though i fear the MLBPAA will destroy these semi-pro kids.

The Bananas are in Des Moines next summer for a two-game set. Sounds like a whole squad of Max Patkins, the erstwhile “Clown Prince of Baseball.”

news is a few weeks old, but i missed it at the time...sandberg is getting a statue outside wrigley in 2024.

Recent comments

  • Childersb3 09/26/2023 - 09:27 am (view)

    Padres want to restructure while still competing, yet decrease payroll.
    Snell and Hader are FAs.
    Soto has one year left on deal.
    Our bullpen is in dire need of someone like Hader.
    Snell would cost a ton and maybe Steele's presence makes Snell unnecessary, yet you cannot have enough pitching (I'd like Yamamoto)
    But, we can put a deal together for Soto. We'd have to pony up the cash to keep him to make the trade worth it long term, but we can make a value deal for the Padres.

    Morel, Canario, Mervis, Vazquez, one MiLB SP (Sanders-Arias-Gray-maybe Ferris), and Stroman (or Hendricks)
    So, it's a six for one deal.
    The issue here is that five of these guys have to be on the Padres 40man roster. That might be too much for them. So maybe BJ Murray instead of Vazquez.
    Morel is blocked from a defensive position. So he's our DH. He'd be replaced by Soto.

    We'd still keep Alcantara and ONKC to replace Happ and Suzuki eventually.
    We'd still need to figure out 3B. Maybe bring back Candelario.
    I'd resign Belli for 1B or CF if PCA isn't "ready" in Spring Training.
    Wisdom can stay to help Soto with DH spots vs LH arms.

    You'd have LH bats at DH, 1B, 3B (switch), LF (switch), CF (PCA or Tauch) with 20 HR pop at DH, 1B, LF and 15 HR pop at 3B and CF.  That's pretty solid.
    It'll cost too much for the Ricketts to keep Bellinger and Soto but that would be fun to watch.

  • crunch 09/26/2023 - 09:48 am (view)

    missing the playoffs because of an on-paper tiebreaker loss would be peak cubbery.

  • Hagsag1946 09/26/2023 - 09:10 am (view)

    Thanks Phil. I look forward to these reports.

  • Mike Wellman 09/25/2023 - 09:24 pm (view)

    Playoffs essentially start tomorrow for Cubs. Better pack for a week in Milwaukee.

  • Arizona Phil 09/25/2023 - 09:34 pm (view)

    azbobbop: If Stroman does not opt out, the Cubs can trade him without any restrictions.

    Stroman will make $21M in 2024 if he does not opt out, and Hendricks will make $16M if the Cubs exercise the club option. 

    Also, it would cost the Cubs a $1.5M buy-out if they decline the Hendricks club option, so they would only be saving $14.5M by declining the option, not the full $16M.

  • azbobbop 09/25/2023 - 09:08 pm (view)

    Phil, if Stroman opts in, does have any trade protection?

  • Arizona Phil 09/25/2023 - 09:52 pm (view)

    CRUNCH: Unfortunately all of the tie-breakers work against the Cubs in the case of a tie with AZ, MIA, and/or CIN. 

  • Arizona Phil 09/25/2023 - 09:48 pm (view)

    CUBSTER: The Cubs are expected to be "in" on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but so will about a dozen other clubs. 

  • Arizona Phil 09/25/2023 - 09:54 pm (view)

    Childersb3: I suspect the Cubs will pick-up the Hendricks $16M 2024 option rather than pay the $1.5M buy-out, and then depending on what else might happen during off-season (Stroman opt-out now not likely, Smyly to the pen permanently, might or might not sign Yamamoto), Hendricks will either be in the Cubs starting rotation on Opening Day, or else he will be traded. 

    So while I don't think the Cubs will decline the club option, I do think he could be traded if it becomes clear during the course of the off-season and Spring Training that there is no place for him in the 2024 rotation.

    With the need for SP being what it is throughout MLB, Hendricks still has value (especially on a one-year contract for reasonable money), whether it be with the Cubs or with another club (presuming he stays healthy, of course). 

  • Arizona Phil 09/26/2023 - 09:24 am (view)

    Here are pitch types / velo from the game: 

    Alfredo Romero: FB 88-91 and CV 77-79 
    Shane Marshall: FB 92, SL/CT: 87-88, CV: 79-81 
    Mason McGwire: FB 93-95, SL/CT 85-88, SPLIT 76-78    
    Kevin Valdez: FB 92-93, SL 80-83, CV 74 
    Koen Moreno: FB 89-92, SL/CT 84-85, CH 79-81, CV 73-74