Cubs MLB Roster

Cubs Organizational Depth Chart
40-Man Roster Info

59 players are at MLB Spring Training 

40 players are on the MLB RESERVE LIST (roster is full) 
19 players are MLB Spring Training NON-ROSTER INVITEES (NRI) 

Last updated 2-6-2024
 
* bats or throws left
# bats both

PITCHERS: 22
Yency Almonte
Adbert Alzolay 
Michael Arias
Javier Assad
Ben Brown
Jose Cuas
Kyle Hendricks
Porter Hodge
* Bailey Horn
* Shota Imanaga
Caleb Kilian
Mark Leiter Jr
* Luke Little
Julian Merryweather
Hector Neris 
Daniel Palencia
* Drew Smyly
* Justin Steele
Jameson Taillon
Keegan Thompson
Hayden Wesneski 
* Jordan Wicks

NRI PITCHERS: 11 
Colten Brewer 
Chris Clarke 
Carl Edwards Jr 
* Edwin Escobar 
* Richard Lovelady 
Sam McWilliams 
* Thomas Pannone 
Ethan Roberts 
Cam Sanders 
Riley Thompson 
* Brad Wieck 

CATCHERS: 2
Miguel Amaya
Yan Gomes

NRI CATCHERS: 4  
Jorge Alfaro 
Pablo Aliendo
Joe Hudson 
* Bryce Windham

INFIELDERS: 9
* Michael Busch 
Nico Hoerner
Nick Madrigal
* Miles Mastrobuoni
* Matt Mervis
Christopher Morel
Dansby Swanson
Luis Vazquez
Patrick Wisdom

NRI INFIELDERS: 3 
David Bote 
Matt Shaw 
Chase Strumpf 

OUTFIELDERS: 7
Kevin Alcantara
Alexander Canario
* Pete Crow-Armstrong
Brennen Davis
# Ian Happ
Seiya Suzuki
* Mike Tauchman 

NRI OUTFIELDERS: 1 
* Owen Caissie  
 



Minor League Rosters
Rule 5 Draft 
Minor League Free-Agents

Love Me Some Non-Tender

11/17 UPDATE

The Cubs did not tender 2024 contracts to RHP Codi Heuer, LHP Brandon Hughes, or RHP Ethan Roberts, so the trio are now free agents, eligible to sign an MLB or minor league contract with any club, including the Cubs.

Patrick Wisdom signed a $2.725M one-year "pre-tender" contract to avoid being non-tendered. 

The other 28 unsigned players on the 40-man roster (including six who are eligible for salary arbitration) were tendered 2024 contracts but are still unsigned. (The six unsigned players eligible for salary arbitration cannot request arbitration until the second week of January, and the 22 pre-arbitration unsigned players can have their 2023 contracts automatically renewed by the club on March 1st if the player has not signed by that date),  

With the three non-tenders, the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 37 (three slots are open). 

 




ORIGINAL POST 11/14

Now that the Cubs have filed their minor league reserve lists with MLB, the next order of business is deciding whether or not to tender 2024 contracts to the 32 unsigned players on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster).

If an unsigned player on an MLB Reserve List is not tendered a contract by 8 PM (Eastern) on the Friday prior to Thanksgiving (November 17th in 2023), the player is said to be "Non-Tendered," he is immediately removed from his club's MLB 40-man roster, and he becomes an unrestricted free-agent, free to sign a major league or minor league contract with any club, including the club that non-tendered the player.
NOTE: Prior to 2022, the MLB contract tender date was December 2nd. 

The actual method for tendering contracts on MLB Contract Tender Day (this coming Friday) is for each club to submit a list of of its unsigned players to the MLB Labor Relations Department (MLB LRD), indicating which of the players are being tendered contracts, and which are not. Then the LRD forwards the list to the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), and the individual players (and their agents) are notified by the MLBPA.    

A "Non-Tendered" player receives no termination pay, and the player's former club receives no compensation if the player subsequently signs with another club.

Unlike players who receive an outright release, a player who is not tendered a contract is not placed on waivers prior to becoming a free-agent.  

Each unsigned player on an MLB 40-man roster who is tendered a contract must be offered at least the MLB minimum salary ($740,000 in 2024) and (with a couple of exceptions) at least 80% of the player's previous season's salary, and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back.

Some players have a "minor league split" salary in their contract which they are paid if they are sent to the minors. In most cases, a player's minor league "split" salary must be at least 50% of the player's salary (what the player was actually paid) from the previous season. The one exception is if a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply. 

The minor league "split" minimum salary is $120,600 in 2024, and the minor league "split" minimum salary for players who are on an MLB Reserve List for the first time is $60,300 in 2024. 

An unsigned player under club control who has accrued at least three but less than six years of MLB Service Time is automatically eligible for salary arbitration.

Also, any unsigned player with at least two years but less than three years of MLB Service Time who accrued at least 86 days of MLB Service Time during the previous season can qualify for salary arbitration as a so-called "Super Two" if the player is among the top 22% in MLB Service Time of players in that group (rounded to the nearest whole number). And if  two or more players are tied with the same MLB Service Time just above the "Super Two" threshold, all of the players with that accrued MLB ST would get "Super Two" status even if that means the number of players with "Super Two" status exceeds 22%.   
NOTE: The "Super Two" threshold post-2023 is two years plus 118 days of MLB Service Time (or 2+118.  

https://www.thecubreporter.com/projected-post-2023-mlb-super-two-players

Besides gaining the right to request salary arbitration and have that right four times instead of just three times, being a "Super Two" player also means the player can elect free-agency if he is sent outright to the minors, even though he has not yet accrued three years of MLB Service Time and even if he has not been outrighted previously in his career (however, unlike a player who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or has been outrighted previously in his career and who therefore has the option to elect free-agency immediately or else defer the choice until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season, a "Super Two ' player who has not been outrighted previously in his career must make his choice immediately upon being outrighted). 

CUBS PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR SALARY ARBITRATION POST-2023: (last updated 11-2-2023)
Adbert Alzolay, RHP 
Codi Heuer, RHP  
Mark Leiter Jr, RHP 
Nick Madrigal, INF
Julian Merryweather, RHP 
Justin Steele, LHP ("Super Two")
Mike Tauchman, OF 
Patrick Wisdom, INF-OF 

It is not unusual for a club to give an arbitration-eligible player a "take-it-or-leave-it" offer (ultimatum) prior to deciding whether to tender or not tender a contract to the player. If the player accepts the terms (known as a "pre-tender") and signs prior to the MLB Contract Tender deadline, he is retained; if he declines, he gets non-tendered. (This is often decided hours or even minutes prior to the MLB Contract Tender deadline).    

If an arbitration-eligible player is tendered a contract and the club and the player cannot agree on a salary, the player can request the MLBPA to file for salary arbitration. The MLBPA is responsible for delivering all requests for salary arbitration to the MLB LRD on the Tuesday immediately prior to the second Friday of January. Once salary arbitration has been requested, the player submits his desired salary to the MLBPA, the club submits its salary offer to the MLB LRD, and the MLBPA and MLB LRD exchange the two figures on the second Friday of January. The MLBPA and MLB LRD then schedule a hearing with a three-person arbitration panel. Hearings are held on various dates during the three weeks prior to the start of MLB Spring Training.

Because a club can automatically renew a player's contract on March 1st, clubs - NEVER - request salary arbitration. 

ONLY THE PLAYER CAN REQUEST SALARY ARBITRATION. 
 
The club's offer must be at least the MLB minimum salary, and, in most cases, must be at least 80% of the player's previous year's salary and at least 70% of the player's salary from two seasons back. However, if the player received a raise in excess of 50% by a salary arbitration panel the previous season, a 20% maximum salary reduction from the previous season and a 30% maximum salary reduction from two seasons back does not apply, and the club only has to offer at least the MLB minimum salary.

After arbitration has been requested, the player and the club can continue to negotiate back & forth, and the player can withdraw from the process any time up until the hearing. And in fact this frequently happens, as the player and the club will often agree to just "split the difference" (something the panel cannot do). 
NOTE: Beginning in 2022, if an arbitration-eligible player signs a contract prior to a hearing, the contract is fully guaranteed. 

If the matter does go to a hearing, the arbitration panel must choose either the club's offer or the player's figure, and win or lose, the player is awarded a standard one-year MLB contract with no "minor league split" salary or incentive/performance bonuses. Also, the contract is not guaranteed, so if the player is released during Spring Training, the club would only owe the player 30 days or 45 days salary as termination pay, depending on when the player is released. (A player on an MLB Reserve List signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released more than 15 days prior to Opening Day receives 30 days salary as termination pay, a player on an MLB Reserve List signed to a non-guaranteed contract who is released 15 or fewer days prior to Opening Day receives 45 days salary as termination pay, and a player on an MLB Reserve List who is released during the MLB regular season receives 100% of his salary as termination pay). 
NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player is awarded a contract by an arbitration panel and then is subsequently released by his club prior to or during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.

An unsigned player under club control who does not yet qualify for salary arbitration ultimately has to either accept the club's offer or just not play.

A club will negotiate with the player up to a point, but if the player has not signed a contract for the current season by March 1st, the club has the right to unilaterally dictate the player's salary and renew the player's contract ("auto-renewal") from the previous season (albeit for an amount not less than the MLB minimum salary, and not less than 80% of the player's salary from the previous season and not less than 70% of the player's salary from two season's back). 

These players are the ones who have a "minor league split" salary in their contract, which the player is paid if he is sent to the minors (optioned or outrighted). A player's "minor league split" salary must be at least equal to the 2023 MLB "minor league split" minimum salary and must be at least 50% of the player's salary (what the player was actually paid) from the previous season.
NOTE: If a free-agent signs a major league contract with a minor league "split" salary, the "50% rule" does not apply.

POST-2023 CUBS PRE-ARBITRATION (AUTO-RENEWAL) PLAYERS: (last updated 11-14-2023)
Kevin Alcantara, OF
Miguel Amaya, C
Michael Arias, RHP 
Javier Assad, RHP 
Ben Brown, RHP
Alexander Canario, OF 
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF
Jose Cuas, RHP 
Brennen Davis, OF
Porter Hodge, RHP 
Bailey Horn, LHP 
Brandon Hughes, LHP
Caleb Kilian, RHP
Luke Little, LHP 
Miles Mastrobuoni, INF-OF
Matt Mervis, 1B 
Christopher Morel, INF
Daniel Palencia, RHP 
Ethan Roberts, RHP 
Michael Rucker, RHP 
Keegan Thompson, RHP  
Luis Vazquez, INF 
Hayden Wesneski, RHP 
Jordan Wicks, LHP

 

 




At this time (November 14th), eight Cubs players are signed: 

Yan Gomes, C (signed thru 2024)
Ian Happ, OF (signed thru 2026)
Kyle Hendricks, RHSP (signed thru 2024)
Nico Hoerner, INF (signed thru 2026)
Drew Smyly, LHSP (signed thru 2024 with a mutual option for 2025)
Seiya Suzuki (signed thru 2026)
Dansby Swanson (signed thru 2029)
Jameson Taillon (signed thru 2026)   

The Cubs' decision to tender or not to tender a 2024 MLB contract to the 32 unsigned players will depend on several factors: 

GROUP ONE:  
ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE WITH ARTICLE XIX-A STATUS (cannot be optioned or sent outright to the minors without player's consent): 
NONE  

GROUP TWO
ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE WITH ARTICLE XX-D STATUS (can be optioned to minors if player has an option or options available, but player can elect free-agency if he is sent outright to the minors) 
Adbert Alzolay, RHRP 
Codi Heuer, RHRP 
Mark Leiter Jr, RHRP 
Nick Madrigal, INF 
Julian Merryweather, RHRP 
Justin Steele, LHSP ("Super Two") 
Mike Tauchman, OF 
Patrick Wisdom, INF-OF
NOTE: Alzolay, Leiter, Merryweather, Steele, and Tauchman are out of minor league options. 
COMMENT: A player in GROUP TWO who is tendered a contract and then files for salary arbitration in January would not receive a minor league split salary or performance bonus if the contract is awarded by an arbitration panel. 
Alzolay and Steele are part of the Cubs MLB core and so they will certainly be tendered, Merryweather and Leiter are out of options so they have no roster "fungibility" but they otherwise project to be a part of the Cubs bullpen in 2024 so they will probably be tendered, and Heuer will likely miss most if not all of the 2024 season so the Cubs will almost certainly non-tender him and offer him a minor league contract with a low base salary while he spends the season rehabbing in Mesa. And if he refuses the offer, so be it. (Because he is rehabbing from an injury, Heuer cannot be placed on Outright Assignment Waivers after 5 PM on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series). 
Madrigal and Wisdom can be optioned to the minors in 2024 so they have the roster "fungibility" that Tauchman does not. If the Cubs need Madrigal's, Wisdom's, and/or Tauchman's 40-man roster slots at some point during the off-season for a free agent(s) and/or a player acquired in a trade, the Cubs can just DFA the player at that time. So it really isn't necessary to non-tender the player - UNLESS - the Cubs simply want to ax the player's salary from the 2024 payroll to reduce the payroll and AAV (which is entirely possible).      

GROUP THREE 
PRE-ARBITRATION /  HAS ARTICLE XX-D STATUS (has been outrighted previously in his career so he can elect free-agency if he is outrighted): 
Michael Rucker, RHRP    
COMMENT: Similar to the players in GROUP TWO (see above), except Rucker is not arbitration-eligible so (unlike the arbitration-eligible guys) he can have a minor league split salary in his contract, and (because he has a minor league option available) he can be optioned to the minors in 2024 without restriction, making him an ideal Des Moines - Chicago "shuttle" guy. Also, if the Cubs were planning on dropping Rucker from the 40, they probably would have done so when they waived Nick Burdi, Jeremiah Estrada, and Jared Young last week, So the only reason to non-tender Rucker would be if the Cubs believe his 40-man roster slot will be needed at some point in the off-season and that they don't want to risk losing him off waivers. in which case they might have a pre-arranged deal in place for him to sign a minor league contract (for MLB money) after being non-tendered (and preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft) with an NRI to Spring Trasining. Otherwise, the Cubs can just DFA Rucker if & when they actually need his 40-man roster slot, and if he gets claimed off waivers or elects free-agency after being outrighted, so be it.   

GROUP FOUR
PRE-ARBITRATION BUT OUT OF MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS (cannot be optioned to the minors in 2021): 
Miguel Amaya, C 
COMMENT: A player on the 40 who is out of minor league options is a tricky proposition, because if the player is tendered a 2024 MLB contract and has a good Spring Training but there isn't room for him on the Opening Day Active List roster, he will likely get claimed off waivers if the Cubs try and send him to the minors. 
However, Amaya is a virtual lock to make the Opening Day roster, so he will be tendered. 

GROUP FIVE 
DRAFT-EXCLUDED PLAYER (cannot be optioned or outrighted to the minors until 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day) 
Michael Arias, RHSP 
Porter Hodge, RHRP 
Bailey Horn, LHRP 
Luke Little, LHRP 
Luis Vazquez, INF 
COMMENT: Every now & then a player is added to the 40 after the Draft-Excluded Status deadline (8/15), and then the club decides it doesn't want to keep the player on the 40 during the entire off-season because the club believes it will need the player's slot on the 40 at some point in the interim.  
So because these players cannot be outrighhted to the minors until twenty days prior to MLB Opening Day, a club might find it necessary to non-tender the player and then (hopefully) re-sign him to a minor league contract after the conclusion of the MLB Rule 5 Draft. 
However, none of the Cubs Draft-Excluded players are non-tender candidates.   

GROUP SIX
PRE-ARBITRATION MLB RULE 9 PLAYER (would have been declared a minor league 6YFA after World Series if player had not been on MLB 40-man roster at that time): 
Miguel Amaya, C (also out of minor league options - see GROUP FOUR above)
Javier Assad, RHSP 
Alexander Canario, OF 
Jose Cuas, RHRP 
Miles Mastrobuoni, INF 
Christopher Morel, INF-OF 
Keegan Thompson, RHRP  
COMMENT: These players cannot be outrighted to the minors beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series up until the player signs a contract for the next season. Because the players (or at least certainly their agents) know this, players in this group normally do not sign until they physically report to Spring Training. That way the player can't be outrighted during the off-season. (A club cannot unilaterally renew the contract of a pre-arbitration player until March 1st).  
So if a club expects it might need the 40-man roster slot of one of the players in this group prior to the start of Spring Training and can't be sure that the player will sign his contract prior to arriving at Spring Training, the club could choose to non-tender the player and then (hopefully) re-sign him to a minor league contract (probably for a bit more money than he would have received if he had remained on the 40), preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft (although again, the player does not have to accept the offer).
The only players in this group who might be non-tendered are Miles Mastrobuoni and Keegan Thompson, but that's only if the Cubs believe they will need the player's roster slot prior to the start of Spring Training - AND - that the player would be OK with signing a minor league contract after being non-tendered.  

GROUP SEVEN
THE OTHERS (PRE-ARBITRATION)
Kevin Alcantara, OF 
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF 
Brandon Hughes, LHRP 
Ben Brown, RHSP  
Brennen Davis, OF 
Caleb Kilian, RHSP 
Matt Mervis, 1B 
Daniel Palencia, RHRP 
Ethan Roberts, RHRP 
Hayden Wesneski, RHSP 
Jordan Wicks, LHSP 
COMMENT: There are generally no off-season restrictions on outrighting the players in this group, unless the player is injured or rehabbing from an injury, in which case the only way he could be removed from the 40 and retained by the Cubs would be via non-tender or outright release. The exception to this rule is any player on the 40 who did not accrue any MLB Service Time in 2024, meaning Alcantara, Brown, and Davis. (They can be optioned or outrighted to the minors even if injured any time up until 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day).   
Also, a player's minor league split salary must be at least 50% of what the player was actually paid the previous season, so because Hughes and Roberts spent the entire 2023 MLB season on an MLB IL and were paid at the MLB rate for the entire season, their minor league split salaries will be in the $375K range (the split salary minimum is $120K), certainly way more than what the Cubs will want to pay a player who might spend much of the 2024 season at AAA. So the Cubs will likely want to non-tender Roberts and Hughes (especially Roberts).  
That said, if Roberts or Hughes are non-tendered, there would probably be an arrangement in place for the player to sign a 2024 minor league deal for a lot less minor league split money, preferably after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft. 

So to summarize, the most-likely non-tenders on Friday are Heuer (very likely), Roberts (also very likely), and Hughes (a bit less likely than Heuer or Roberts, but still likely), all three of whom the Cubs would no doubt want to re-sign to a 2024 minor league contract. 

The next most-likely are (in order) Wisdom (projected to make $2.75M), Tauchman (projected to make $2M), Madrigal (projected to make $2M), Leiter (projected to make $1.75M), and Merryweather (projected to make $1.5M), mainly because they are arbitration-eligible and the Cubs can cut as much as $9M in 2024 payroll (and AAV) by non-tendering them.  

Comments

The 13 players (including Paul Quantrill, Josh Staumont, Cory Abbott, and Yonny Chirinos) who were Designated for Assignment around MLB on Tuesday to open up slots on 40-man rosters can be Non-Tendered on Friday and potentially sign a 2024 minor league contract with their former team without having to pass through waivers. 

Besides MLB Contract Tender Day being the one day of the year when a player can be removed from an MLB 40-man roster without having to pass through waivers, the seven days leading up to MLB Contract Tender Day is the one week of the year when a player can be Designated for Assignment without having to be subsequently traded or placed on Outright Assignment or Outright Release waivers within seven days. The player can just be DFA'd and then non-tendered a couple or three days later. 

So (for example) if the Cubs had wanted to add a fourth minor league player to the 40 on Tuesday, they could have DFA'd Ethan Roberts, then non-tendered him on Friday, and then re-signed him to a pre-arranged 2024 minor league contract (for "40-man roster money") without ever having to take the chance that he would be claimed off waivers. 

Phil, now that the minor league list has been filed, who are some guys you think we might lose forever in the minor league rule 5 phase?

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

DJL: The guys the Cubs are likely to not get back if they are selected in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft are the pitchers and position players who are most MLB-ready. They are - NOT - the Cubs best prospects, however. They are not among the Cubs Top 30 prospects, IMO. 

So we would be talking about RHP Riley Thompson, RHP Chris Clarke (slected by the Mariners in last year's Rule 5 Draft but then reclaimed by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training), LHP Brad Wieck (who is finally healthy and who threw to hitters in "live" BP at AZ Instructs last month), INF Jake Slaughter, OF Cole Roederer, C-INF Bryce Windham, INF Chase Strumpf, RHRP Cam Sanders, and RHRP Blake Whitney. If selected, they are likely gone for good. And I doubt that the Cubs would necessarily care all that much. (If not added to the 40, R. Thompson, Wieck, Slaughter, Roederer, and Whitney will be minor league 6YFA after next season anyway). 

I suspect the Cubs considered Horn to be the most highly-rated prospect (probably just inside the org Top 30, actually probably right at #30) among the MLB-ready guys, and that's why the Cubs added him to the 40. The Cubs believed he was probably a slam-dunk to get selected if not protected, and that they would not get him back if he was selected. and that he was just enough of a prospect in an organization short on lefty relievers to get added to the 40. But it was probably a very close call.  

The actual Cubs Top 30 prospects available for selection in the Rule 5 Draft (C Pablo Aliendo #20, RHSP Kohl Franklin #26, OF Ezequiel Pagan #28, and RHRP Eduarniel Nunez #29) would be the ones the Cubs don't want to lose, but they are also the guys the Cubs would be most-likely to be able to reclaim at the end of Spring Training or early in the regular season if they are selected, because (for various reasons) they are not MLB-ready (or even near-MLB ready) at this time. 

The thing is, Michael Arias and Porter Hodge are nowhere near MLB-ready, either, so why didn't the Cubs leave them unprotected, too?    

The answer is that once a pitcher or a position player reaches certain prospect status (organizational Top 10, and I have Arias at #12 and Hodge at #13), a club just does not want to take the chance that it might lose that player, even if he is not MLB-ready (or anywhere near MLB-ready, like Arias).  

That's why the Cubs selected Kevin Alcantara to the 40-man roster last off-season when he had yet to play above Low-A. Same goes for Ben Brown, who spent most of the season at Hi-A before getting promoted to AA in August by the Cubs after he was acquired from the Phillies in a Trade Deadline deal for David Robertson. Their prospect status was just too significant (org Top 5 for K. Alcantara and org Top 10 for B. Brown) to take the chance that they might get selected in the Rule 5 Draft and if selected that the Cubs might not get them back, so they were selected to the 40 post-2022. (It also helps that K. Alcantara will get four minor league options!). 

A really extreme example of this is OF Alexander Canario, who the Giants selected to their MLB 40-man roster post-2020 when he had yet to play above short-season ball! But he was just too much of a prospect (org Top 10) to take the chance (no matter how remote) that he would get selected in the Rule 5 Draft AND that the Giants might not have the chance to reclaim him. Also, like K. Alcantara and Arias, Canario was added to the 40 early enough in his career where he gets four minor league options (in fact, Canario's 4th minor league option year is 2024).

So I really think that Arias and Hodge were right on the bubble. Not org Top 5 like K. Alcantara was this time last year and not org Top 10 like B. Brown was this time last year, but org Top 15, meaning they are just close enough to the Top 10 to worry about losing them, and the Cubs decided to err on the side of caution, even though neither Arias nor Hodge are MLB-ready (and Arias is probably three years away).  

There also was the matter of the Cubs former Director of Pitching Craig Breslow now being PBO of the Red Sox. I suspect the Cubs brain-trust knows exactly what Breslow's opinion is of every single Cubs minor league pitcher, and that he must have had Arias and Hodge rated VERY high before he departed for Boston. 

BTW, you may remember a Cubs minor league game at the end of 2023 Spring Training on April 3rd that I reported on here at TCR:  

https://www.thecubreporter.com/seiya-suzuki-makes-2023-game-debut-exten…

https://www.thecubreporter.com/comment/274783#comment-274783

Porter Hodge had already had an outstanding Minor League Camp, but his outing on 4/3 was absolutely eye-popping. He literally pitched himself from the South Bend Opening Day roster to the AA Tennessee Opening Day roster as a direct result of his performance in that game, a game where he threw in front of all of the Cubs minor league pitching coaches, coordinators, and the director (Breslow). I can't tell you how I know that he got promoted to AA that day, but it is true. He was supposed to go to South Bend, but because of his plus character & make-up, the Cubs pitching department decided at the last minute that they would challenge him and assign him to AA instead. Of course, as it turned out he struggled at AA as he was a bit over-matched and then (like Ryan Jensen, Daniel Palencia, and Luke Little) he was eventually moved to the bullpen (which dropped his prospect status a bit, from Top 10 to Top 15), but no question that even when he throws just one inning, his raw stuff is electric. 

morel didn't get a hit (1 walk), and he played SS in his 2nd game.

also, the internet is buzzing with rumors of morel being a possible center-piece in a p.alonso trade with the mets.  the mets have not publicly announced that they're shopping alonso.

Not that this qualifies as a surprise, but NY Post baseball writer Joel Sherman has an article about Cody Bellinger where he notes that Andy Green has been dismissed as the Cubs bench coach. 

yamamoto didn't get posted this week (as rumored), but it is reported he will be posted Nov 20th (monday).

Heuer, Roberts, and Hughes non tendered.

Wisdom agreed to a deal. Tauchman also tendered a deal. These seem most surprising tenders, to me anyway.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

wisdom is a relative bargain (3rd/1st) power hitter...at least for another season.  he probably has trade value at his price, too.  i like tauchman as a bench OF'r.

joel sherman saying the wisdom deal is worth 2.75m.  he was expected to land in the mid/high-2m range by many armchair predictions with heavy consensus seeming to be around 2.6m.

fwiw, the general consensus on tauchman is around the 2m mark.

i'll take both these guys for 5m-ish combined, easy.  they're the type of gambles worth a couple roster spots, imo.  they could save about 2m finding madrigal a new home...masterboney is cheaper, faster, and can cover SS as well at 2nd/3rd.  the D is a bit worse (still good), but the speed is better and that is worth considering for bench player options.

"Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times reports that the Cubs are expected to retain pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and hitting coach Dustin Kelly."

Perlaza signs with KBO Hanwha club for a 1mil package. 

That's a shame no MLB club would want a switch hitter DH at 25 yrs old with 20 2B and 20 HR slug. 

He has no Def spot. I've given into that belief. He evidently is pretty bad.

But his bat is legit.

The A's, Royals or White Sox don't need that kind of bat?

Just doesn't make sense. 

1mil dollars is 1mil !!!

Happy for him.

Just think he should get a shot at MLB

[ ]

In reply to by Childersb3

If Yonathan Perlaza had been selected to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster, he would have made $740K only if he had spent the entire 2024 season on the MLB 26-man active list roster. He also would have been eligible to receive a post-season bonus from the MLB Pre-Arbitration Bonus Pool Program, but that would have required him to have a pretty successful MLB rookie season. 

It would have been far more likely that the Cubs would have optioned Perlaza to AAA for most if not all of the 2024 season where he would have been paid $60,000 (the minor league split salary for a player on an MLB 40-man roster for the first time) and be available as an occasional injury call-up for LF or DH only.

So Perlaza getting $800K - GUARANTEED - plus another $200K in potential bonuses is a much better deal for him financially than what he would have earned if he had been selected to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster.  

Also, a player who plays in Japan or Korea accrues equivalent service time that can be used toward free agent eligibility if he were to return to MLB later in his career.  

It's even possible that the Cubs knew about the KBO team's interest in Perlaza before minor league free-agency, and didn't select him to the 40-man roster or trade him to another club that would have selected him to their 40-man roster, just so nothing would block Perlaza's chance for a big pay day.

BTW, if a club does something like that, it isn't just the player's agent who knows about it; ALL of the agents eventually know about it (just like every agent finds out when a club screws a player). While money is money and money talks and money matters most, agents don't forget when a club does a young player a solid.

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

Speaking of Yonathan Perlaza and Kwangmin Kwon, EVERYBODY loved Kwon when he was in Mesa.

https://usatodayhss.com/2015/the-chicago-cubs-spent-1-2m-on-an-17-year-…

My three favorite Mesa Memories of Kwon are: 

1. Kwon won the HR Derby one year at Instructs, and he had to wear a gold crown and a colorful monarch's robe and carry a sceptre (a gold baseball bat) around with him as he walked from field to field to observe his "subjects" take BP, and he would sneak up behind some of them while they were waiting for their turn to hit and carefully "doink" them on the back of the helmet with his sceptre. He thought that was REALLY funny! (and it was, of course). 

2, One year about a dozen of his friends came in from South Korea and watched him play a few EXST games, and they would cheer really loud and chant his name whenever he came up to hit. The only thing is, NOBODY cheers or yells like that at EXST games. It's usually as quiet as a library. 

3. Kwon was walking to Field # 5 to stretch and prepare for a game and while en route he was stopped by a couple of the autograph hounds who frequent the back-fields, and was asked to sign maybe 20 or 30 of his baseball cards that were in loose-leaf notebooks. So because he is such a nice guy, he stopped and VERY carefully printed his name (in Korean) on each and every card. Eventually one of the coaches on Field # 5 yelled at Kwon to get his butt onto the field and stretch with the other players, but he kept signing because he hadn't finished yet. So then the coach yelled at him again, Kwon smiled and apologized to the autograph people, and high-tailed it for the outfield to start stretching.  

a.nola reup's with PHI on a 7/172m deal (24.5m average).

the market for high-end SP starts with a bit of a whimper on money, but solid on years.

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In reply to by George Altman

GEORGE A: One of the big problems with signing a posted NPB player like Yamamoto, is that if the overall value of the contract is (let's say) $275M, the posting fee would be about $40M, and while the posting fee does not count against a club's payroll AAV, it is real money. 

And while the posting fee can be paid in installments, if the contract is signed on (let's say) January 1st, the first installment (50%, or $20M) would have to be paid on 1/15,  the next installment (17.5%, or $7M) would have to be paid on July 1st, the third installment (17.5%, or $7M) would have to be paid on January 1,-2025, and the fourth and final installment (15%, or $6M) would have to be paid on 7-1-2025. So that's $40M to be paid within 18 months of signing!

So again, while it does not count against the AAV, a pisting fee of $40M (which would be BY FAR the highest posting fee ever) is a LOT of money, and therefore a club just would not agree to a player opt out anytime before at least six years (or probably more like seven or eight), because the posting fee is not refundable if the original overall value of the contract is later reduced by the player opting out. 

So if Yamamoto wants a lot of years AND a high AAV, I can't see how a team like the Cubs would accept an early opt out, too. No way. 

Otherwise, if it was an opt out after (let's say) two years, the club could end up spending $100M for just two years of Yamamoto (and that sounds like something only the Mets would do!).

Kodai Senga signed for 5 / $75M ($5M signing bonus and then $14M per season) with a $12M posting fee paid by the Mets, and he gets an opt out after three years, but even if he does opt out, the overall cost to the Mets for signing Senga (including the non-refundable posting fee) would still be only $57M over three years. 

That's why it will be interesting to see what Yamamoto can get in terms of years, AAV, and opt outs. 

It could get VERY complicated! 

The only deal I can see a club offering is a very long contract (12 years) with an AAV no more than $25M, a $45M posting fee, and a player opt out after nine seasons, such that if Yamamoto opts out after 2032 (at age 34), he will have cost the club $270M for nine years (that's an average of $30M over the course of the nine seasons, including the posting fee with an AAV liability of $25M AAV). 

It's also possible that because of the very substantial posting fee hit to the club at the start of the contract the actual salaries for the first four seasons could be maybe as low as $15M per season, then escalating up to $35M for the next four, and then back down a bit to $25M for the final four seasons (but overall it would be the same $25M AAV).

BTW, if Yamamoto would agree to a 15-15-15-15-35-35-35-35-25-25-25-25 arrangement, a club (like the Cubs) could actually afford to give him an opt out after four seasons (even with the $45M posting fee), because the overall cost to the club would be only $105M over the course of the four seasons. In fact, could even be an opt out after five seasons ($140M total cost to the club) or after six seasons ($175M total cost to the club), or heck, even after seven seasons ($210M total cost to the club). But a minimum of four seasons would have to be required before he could opt out. 

They can add Yamamoto, Bellinger, & Candelario AND still be < $257M in 2024 AAV. That would show me they want to make the Playoffs.

If signing Yamamoto, Bellinger & Candelario is what it takes to show you that they want to make the playoffs, you are going to go into the season thinking that they don't want to make the playoffs.

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In reply to by Bill

I used to work under Jim Barksdale, ex COO of FedEx, CEO of Netscape and others. Ricketts stated his purpose in buying the Cubs was to bring MULTIPLE Championships to Cubs fans. Jim would tell Tom, you're either doing the things to do that 'or you're just bumpin' your gums'. 

 

Tom will show us which it is.

He is already half way to his goal.  That if further than any of the Wrigley family, or the Tribune got in the past 100 years.

I feel like people forget that recently the team had ~5 yr run with a payroll in the top 10, including a year where they were #2 (spitting distance to #1). 

And though a “soft rebuild” the past few years is frustrating, history is showing it was the right call.  I’m not an apologist for billionaire owners, but I do appreciate the multi year vision of the mgmt team & ownership.

 The last thing in the world I want is to be the Angels… consistent top 10 payroll, 2 of the best players EVER, & all they have to show for it is 1 division title followed by a sweep out of the ALDS + finishing above .500 <1/3 of the time + finishing an average of 16 (!) games out of first. 

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In reply to by First.Pitch.120

this is a team owned by a billionaire family and it's located the 3rd largest media market in the country.  they have heavily monitized the park and surrounding properties based on the product they're selling...the team that plays in that park.  money is absolutely 0 issue to profitability, value, or the future outlook of it functioning as a business.

tanking and hoping the upper round picks they get afterwards actually work out is for middle-market teams.  going half-way with a plan to trade away the team if they're not close is some middle-market team stuff...

BOS doesn't do this (with less resources) and they have a 2013 World Series championship to show for it.

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In reply to by crunch

MLB revenue by team US 2022 | Statista

In 2022, the Yankees had 206 million more dollars of revenue than the Cubs.  That means that after all expenses are covered, they could spend an additional 205 million dollars on salaries and still make more profit than the Cubs.

In 2022, the Dodgers had 130 million more dollars of revenue than the Cubs.  That means that after all expenses are covered, they could spend an additional 129 million dollars on salaries and still make more profit than the Cubs.

In 2022 the Boston Red Sox had 61 million more dollars of revenue than the Cubs.  That means that after allexpenses are covered, they could spend an additional 60 million dollars on salareies and still make more profit than the Cubs.  The Cubs have won as many world series as Boston, but it was the Cubs that did it with less resources.

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In reply to by Bill

mlb revenue estimates are sketchy at best, though a good amount is known.  teams don't publicly disclose all their revenue streams and not every outlet that aggregates sources of revenue catch them all. 

excluding that, the ricketts family owns a ton of stuff that creates revenue and value surrounding the park, building on the reputation and existence of the team, that has nothing to do with the finances of the team.  that said, i'm not sure COVID was fun times for any of that investment.

still, this team is worth about 2-3 billion more than what they paid not even 15 years ago.  all that land around the park they bought, similar value realized boat.  "value" doesn't pay the bills, but i doubt the ricketts family would need to have outside financing to boost any payroll or luxury tax overrun.

i'm not expecting the cubs to spend like LA or NYC teams.  the cubs are in the 3rd largest media market, but the distance between 2 and 3 isn't exactly small.  the multi-year punts and cautious re-entry slowness is something i don't like, though.

[ ]

In reply to by First.Pitch.120

Jed hasn't been perfect, but he's hitting around .275 to .280.  Pretty good.
I think he knows it's time to become major headline news now.
He needs a superstar. Someone to lean on.
He needs HRs/RBIs at the plate and Ks/Velo/Spin from the mound from Free Agency.
If he misses on those, it'll be a major knock on him.
He'll have to trade top prospects to add in those areas that will kill the depth he helped create with the rebuild trades and solid drafts.
Getting PCA and Jaguar from the Mets and Yanks were great deals (and ONKC from SD doesn't look to bad either) but his best move was effectively trading back and getting Horton and Ferris in 2022. 
He got two 1st Rd talents and Horton was a big win.
When we drafted Horton, I was reminded of Hayden Simpson from Southern Arkansas. That pick still makes me cringe. But, Horton was bigtime in College WS. He hasn't slowed down since.
If he can sign Ohtani to solve the DH spot and Yamamoto to add some Ks to the SP Rotation those would be epic wins. He wouldn't lose any prospects and add star power to needed areas.
I know we'd still have 3B, 1B and CF to deal with.  I'm sure Ohtani and Yamamoto would make Bellinger not possible.
So, PCA gets a chance.
Morel take 1B or 3B or is traded to Mets for Alonso.
So that just leaves one of 1B or 3B.
And not one of our best prospects has been moved yet.
 

STL has signed lance lynn (10m) and kyle gibson (12m) to 1 year deals for those keeping track of the market for end-rotation veterans in their late 30s.

on the Cubs farm system front, triggered by the departure of Breslow and the promotion of Jared Banner, an article in the Athletic by Patrick Mooney says:

"FanGraphs now projects the Cubs at No. 1 in terms of future value. Toward the end of this past season, the farm system had risen to second (ESPN), fourth (MLB.com), and sixth (Baseball America) in those rankings. The organization’s top four minor-league affiliates finished a combined 34 games over .500 this year."

 

of course, it's behind a subscription firewall...

https://theathletic.com/5072521/2023/11/20/cubs-prospects-farm-system/?…

"Matt Cozzi@matt_cozzi
I’m hearing the Cubs have talked to the Blue Jays about Bo Bichette, who would play 3B for the Cubs.

This was first hinted at by @KFiddsyesterday and @jonmorosi mentioned the Cubs interest in Bichette last year.

Bichette is signed through 2025 and would cost big return."

Mariners DFA former Cub 1st round pitching prospect Ryan Jensen. He had a walk rate over 17% but who knows if he can figure his wildness out. For the eternal optimists out there, Daniel Bard did, but it took forever. Someone may get lucky with him, or (thanks AZ  Phil) so be it.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

that was a "what the hell?" pick in 2019.  he was pre-draft ranked in the 90s/low-100s...a guy expected to go round 2 or 3.

i think dj herz is the only guy worth a damn out of that year's cubs draft class and his high walk rate might lead to being a pen guy if he can't sort that out.  that's WAS's issue to deal with, though.

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In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

2019 was the last draft before DK. 2020 was the first with DK, and while it’s not going to look pretty when you look at the first three picks, he’s already gotten two guys from that draft to the majors (Mervis and Luke Little) while there have been none from 2019. Decent chance that DJ Herz and Porter Hodge make it eventually though. 

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In reply to by Cubster

The Cubs were trying to outright Ryan Jensen to AAA in August when he was claimed off waivers by the Mariners, so it's not like they were trying to jettison him from the organization. Ergo, I think it's quite possible that if Jensen goes back onto Outright Assignment Waivers rather than being traded, that the Cubs very well might put in a claim, and then if they win the claim, keep him on the 40 until whenever his roster slot is needed for a FA, trade acquisition, or waiver claim. 

Three attractive things about Ryan Jensen are that (unlike a number of players presently on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster) there are no off-season restrictions on outrighting him to the minors, he cannot elect free agency if he is outighted, and he will not be a minor league 6YFA until post-2025). 

As a prospect, Jensen is somewhat comparable to pitchers like Cam Sanders and Riley Thompson, except Jensen (if he is outrighted to AAA) would remain under club control through 2025, whereas C. Sanders and R. Thompson can be minor league free-agents after next season. So Jensen actually has more long-term development value than either Sanders or Thompson.

Given that the Cubs invested $2M in Jensen when they drafted him, and given that there are no restrictions on outrighting him during the off-season, and that given that if he is outrighted he cannot elect free-agency, and given that if he is outrighted he cannot be a minor league FA until post-2025, and given that he is healthy and has a "live" arm, and given that the Cubs presently have three 40-man roster slots open (that is a LOT of givens!), I really can't see any reason for the Cubs not to put in a waiver claim (again, presuming the Mariners don't trade him), and then if they win the claim, wait the required seven days (or longer if they don't need his slot immediately) and then put him back onto waivers again (a player claimed off waivers during the off season cannot be placed back onto waivers again for at least seven days), and if he isn't claimed, outright him to AAA and keep him in the Iowa "inventory" through 2025, and hope that maybe he can harness his control in the meantime. And if he can't, so be it. 

willie hernandez died a couple days ago...a few days after his 69th birthday.

rule 5 pick from philly, turned into a reliever, some good cubs years.

he won CY and MVP in 1984 for DET in the emerging peak era of people realizing bullpen arms can be stars.  rollie fingers (1981), willie hernandez (1984), and dennis eckersley (1992) won CY+MVP.  jim konstanty was the last reliever before them to win a MVP (1950, no CY award in 1950).

morel still hasn't played any 1st.

20 innings at 3rd (0 errors/8 chances), 14 at SS (2 errors/6 chances), 1 in LF.

all i got is raw stats, no idea how he's looking at 3rd or SS beyond the numbers.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

Back when Jimmy Piersall was the Cubs Minor League Outfield Coordinator in the 1990's I had a chance to sit with him at an AZ Instructs game at Fitch Park and he told me that when he first came up with the Red Sox they played him at both SS and OF, and he said the biggest adjustment he had to make with his throws when playing shortstop was that he had to aim his throws at the first-baseman's glove (like playing darts), whereas from the outfield he would just throw to the base without hesitation, and not think about hitting the fielder's glove. 

The difference in aiming for a fielder's glove rather than throwing to a base would sometimes cause him to think too much and grip the ball too tightly, and so he would make a bad throw. But he almost never made an errant throw from the outfield.  

This reminds me of the situation with Christopher Morel. When he doesn't have to be super precise with a throw, his accuracy improves. Which is why most scouts I know project Morel as an outfielder (or because he has fly ball and line drive tracking issues in the outfield, more specifically a left-fielder, where he can play deep and come in rather than go back on balls).  

No question Morel has a plus-plus arm (one of the strongest arms in baseball), and so playing him at 1st base or using him as the DH is a waste of one his two plus tools (arm), but the throwing tool only seems to he game-usable if he plays in the outfield (LF), and Ian Happ is firmly ensconced there through 2026. 

However, if he can learn to make consistently accurate throws from 3rd base to 1st base, Morel can make use of his plus-arm in games without necessarily having to play in the outfield (LF). 

One thing that hurt Morel's development is that he went directly from AA to MLB in 2022 and never really had a chance to master his throwing accuracy prior to getting called up, and then he spent only a month in AAA in 2023 before getting called up in May. He is an example of player who was rushed to the major leagues because of one stand out MLB-ready tool (HR power), with the other tool not yet MLB-ready (or at least game-usable).  

So perhaps playing a lot of 3rd base in Winter ball this year will provide Morel the game reps necessary to help him realize his potential as a third-baseman (or at least determine once and for all whether or not he can play the position at the big league level). It sure won't happen if he plays 1st base.  

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

My read on his throws is they have too much tail from 3B so they get off line by the time they get there. I also got the sense that he tended to rush a longer throw rather than setting his feet and making an accurate throw. When he plays 2B it's a much shorter throw and he seems to be able to take a second to gather himself and then fire it over accurately, but I also think there is less time for the throw to tail coming from 2B. His throws from the OF aren't terribly accurate either from what I can recall. I think it's mostly an arm path issue (which might be exacerbated by bouncing back and forth between OF and IF). I would say keep him on the right side of the IF at 1B or at 2B whenever you can force Nico or Dansby to take a day off.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

If I was the Cubs, I would be working Matt Shaw at 1st base before I'd move Christopher Morel there. A Shaw comp is Steve Garvey (a plus hitter with loud contact and a solid glove but a rag arm). 

In fact I wish the Cubs had worked Shaw at 1st base at Instructs or assigned him to the AFL to play 1st base, but for some reason he did not attend Instructs and was not assigned to the AFL. 

If he can learn to play 1st base, Shaw could be in Wrigley by mid-2024, maybe even sooner. 

Shaw is a first-baseman waiting to happen. 

And I still believe Christopher Morel will be traded as part of a package to acquire a SP, so that he can play LF (the position scouts say he should play).   

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

If the Cubs do move Matt Shaw to 1st base and don't sign or acquire in a trade any position players or pitchers in the meantime (or at least nobody for more than one year), this could be the Cubs Opening Day lineup in 2025: 

1. PCA, CF 
2. Hoerner, 2B 
3, Happ, LF 
4. Suzuki, RF 
5. Shaw, 1B 
6. Morel/Caissie, DH 
7. Swanson, SS  
8. Amaya/Ballesteros, C 
9. Murray, 3B 

BENCH: 
Canario, OF 
Mastrobuoni or Vazquez, INF  

STARTING PITCHERS:
Steele 
Taillon
Horton 
Wicks 
Assad, Brown, Wesneski, Kilian, Powell, Birdsell, or ?  

BULLPEN: 
Alzolay 
Palencia 
L. Little
Cuas  
Horn  
Roberts 
Martin 
Hodge 

Also, Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr would be under club control (via arb) through 2026 but they are both out of minor league options, and Michael Rucker and Keegan Thompson will be out of minor league options after next season, so their value as shuttle guys would be greatly diminished due to loss of fungibility.  

James Triantos, Jefferson Rojas, or Pedro Ramirez (2B), Kevin Alcantara (RF), Morel, Caissie, Canario, Brennen Davis, Christian Franklin, or Zyhir Hope (LF), Matt Mervis, Haydn McGeary, or Brian Kalmer (DH), and Assad, Brown, Wesneski, Powell, Birdsell, Jackson Ferris, Drew Gray, Michael Arias, Brody McCullough, Will Sanders, or ? (SP) can replace Hoerner, Happ, Suzuki, and Taillon when their contracts expire after the 2026 season. 

At least that would be my master plan going forward (very much subject to change, of course), again presuming the Cubs don't sign or acquire any position players or SP or closer who would be signed beyond the 2024 season. 

The only thing is, if the Cubs did it this way (going in-house rather than signing free agents to lengthy contracts or trading for established players or pitchers), the Cubs would (at least temporarily) probably project as a 70-75 win team in 2024 and would probably be "sellers" at the Trade Deadline, looking to move Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, Yan Gomes, Patrick Wisdom, Nick Madrigal, Mike Tauchman (and probably Merryweather, and Leiter, too), that is unless they can sign free agents or acquire guys who would not be signed beyond 2024 (or at the very least not beyond 2026, when the Happ-Hoerner-Suzuki-Taillon window closes) who might be able to help keep them in playoff contention in 2024. 

The Cubs farm system is absolutely loaded. There are probably at least a half-dozen small market MLB clubs (KC, OAK, MIA, STL, COL, and MIN) plus the White Sox and the Angels that would kill to have the Cubs minor league system as it presently exists. 

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In reply to by Arizona Phil

Arizona P:

You hit the nail on the head, there's really no major player that we need to do special wheeling and dealing and signing to accommodate a small window while they're in their prime; we need to look at this year as a year of fleshing things out and transitioning/moving into our window of contention, and focus our effort  on extending that window for years and years, not throwing everything desparately at a short window.......

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

AZ Phil: I have not seen Matt Shaw in the field but I know you (and others) say he has a rag arm. Wasn't his projection during the draft as a 2B?  I understand he's a bat-first guy. First base makes sense but I was hoping that he might turn out to be a viable 3B candidate and the Cubs get more HRs out of whoever lands at 1B (Mervis, Hoskins, or even Bellinger?).  If they can get rag-arm Nick Madrigal to be useful at 3B, is there no hope for Shaw at 3B?  Is Shaw's arm worse than Madrigal's? Do you think Morel has any chance to wind up at 3B (based on his winter ball play) or is his fate still as an IF-OF backup and DH. It seems that although Jed said something about Morel getting reps at 1B, someone seems to have nixed this during winter ball. What do you think will be the impact on Counsell's evaluations regarding these decisions based on his Brewer track record? Lastly, your thoughts on Matt Chapman. 

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

the biggest knock on shaw and 1st is most likely him being a 5'11" right handed fielder.

given how fast-tracked his career is so far (experience at AA in 2023, should start 2024 there, and no one expects him to still be there by end-season) he needs somewhere to play in the bigs.

on morel...he picked up his 2nd error at 3rd last night...but that's in 99 innings at 3rd.  he's still yet to play even an inning at 1st base.  he's got 26 innings at SS and 6 innings at 2nd.  it seems he's being given a chance to show what he's got at 3rd.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

CRUNCH: Steve Garvey (one of Shaw's comps as a hitter) was a 5'10 right-handed throwing first-baseman with a rag arm. Jeff Bagwell (another Shaw comp) was a 6'0 right-handed throwing first-baseman with a rag arm. Carlos Santana (who played 1B for Counsell in Milwaukee last season and is an above-average defensive first-baseman) is 5'11. It's not like Shaw is 5'7 or 5'8. I don't really see the problem. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

i have no reason to see a problem, it just seems like it's his most obvious reason to give pause on him at 1st.

the cubs situation dictates 2nd/SS isn't an option.  his arm dictates 3rd isn't an option.  1st or CF seems to be his best path and he's only played CF in summer ball back in highschool/college...and of course PCA is a better + closer to the bigs CF.

it's a lot safer to say he's made for 1st than it is he's made for 3rd.  even as a SS his arm is weak, and it's not like his glove is so great he needs to stay in the middle-IF.

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Childersb3: Matt Shaw is already at AA and (for example) Nico Hoerner was in Chicago in September of his first full year in pro ball, so Shaw very well do the same thing. 

Hoerner did end up spending a month in back in AAA at the beginning of the 2021 season, but otherwise he was pretty much up to stay once he made it to Wrigley. 

Shaw will probably have to master either 1B or 3B first before he gets called up, unless he is used primarily as the DH while providing back-up to Hoerner and Swanson at 2B and SS (but is mainly the DH). 

Bottom line is, if Shaw is hitting at AAA like he is projected to hit and the Cubs feel he is MLB-ready (at least as a hitter) and that he will not languish on the bench, he will get called up. 

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

CUBSTER: It's not that Matt Shaw can't play SS (or 2B). Shaw was a SS his last two years in college at Maryland and apparently was OK defensively. It's just that there are certain throws a big league SS has to make (the backhand / flat-foot throw from deep in the 5.5 hole and the leap & change direction throw after fielding a ball up the middle after ranging to his left) that you might not see every game. So while he might appear to be passable at SS, over time the below-average arm at SS will catch up with the player and cost the team runs. 

Shaw is a good fielder so he could play SS (like Ryan Theriot did) and you would just live with the below-average arm strength that would rear its ugly head every now & again, because he is a plus-plus hitter. But the Cubs have Dansby Swanson locked-in at SS through 2029, so Shaw won't be playing there even if he were to improve his arm strength and remake his throwing mechanics.  

As far as second-base is concerned, that would seem to be Shaw's best position, because the position requires a plus-glove but not a plus-arm. Nico Hoerner is presently the Cubs' 2B and is signed through 2026 (although he does NOT have "no trade" rights, so he could be traded at any time). So Shaw could move to 2B in 2027 after Hoerner's contract expires (presuming Hoerner does not sign another extension in the meantime), or the Cubs could preemptively trade Hoerner at some point prior to the conclusion of the 2026 season and install Shaw at 2B before 2027. 

The thing is, the Cubs have three other prospects who also project as second-basemen, including Top 10 prospect James Triantos, Top 10 prospect Jefferson Rojas, and Top 30 prospect Pedro Ramirez. So while Shaw could very well eventually be the Cubs second-baseman, there are other legit candidates who could eventually take-over the position after Hoerner departs. But for second-base to open up before 2027, Hoerner has to be traded.  

As far as third-base is concerned, the Cubs already have a Top 15 prospect (B. J. Murray) who plays 3B and plays it well, and he should be considered the Cubs third-baseman of the future (possibly as soon as sometime during the 2024 season). Also, I don't think that Christopher Morel has the "touch" required to play 3B (he is an athletic and rangy player who plays like the proverbial "Bull in a China Shop" or like a point guard who plays too fast and turns the ball over too much), while Shaw simply does not appear to have the arm strength required to play 3B. It is true that Nick Madrigal has made himself into an above-average defensive-third baseman, but I would not be too quick to generalize and say that because Madrigal did it, that anybody can do it. Also, 3B requires different perception, reaction, and tracking skills than does SS and 2B (which is why a lot of catchers can often play 3B fairly well), so not all middle infielders can play 3B well-enough to be an MLB-regular at the position. 

The one position that is wide-open on the Chicago Cubs going forward is 1st base. Matt Shaw is a plus-fielder with a below-average arm but with a plus-plus bat, so he could be a fit at 1st base. Sort of like Padres first-baseman Jake Cronenworth, but Shaw has a higher ceiling as a hitter. If the Cubs were to move Shaw to 1st base in Spring Training 2024 and presuming he is able to play the position without difficulty, he could be in Chicago by the end of the 2024 season. I understand why the Cubs might think about Christopher Morel as a possible first-baseman because they want to get his power into the lineup any way they can, but Morel's two best attributes are HR power and raw arm strength. He is a rangy infielder (not needed at 1st base) with a plus-arm (also not needed at 1st base), but he also doesn't have the "flyhawk" skills needed to play CF. Morel's best position would be LF, but Ian Happ is firmly ensconced there (with a full "no trade") through 2026, which makes Morel a prime trade chip to be used to acquire pitching (or maybe a catcher).  

As far as Matt Chapman is concerned, I would hope the Cubs don't sign him. It's not just losing the draft pick (Chapman got a QO from the Jays) or that he blocks B. J. Murray long-term, because that wouldn't matter if Chapman is still the hitter he was earlier in his career. But after a red-hot April last year he fell off the table at the plate the last five months. Granted he is a Gold Glove-quality defender at 3B, but you're essentially getting Patrick Wisdom offensively, and so he is not worth the financial investment (money & years) and losing a draft pick on top of it if you sign him. 

If the Cubs don't sign Ohtani, Yakamoto, or Bellinger (and I am becoming increasingly pessimistic that they can), I would hope that they will sign position player free agents only to one year deals (with maybe a second year option) that can be easily moved at the Trade Deadline, and then get ready to unleash the youth (PCA, Shaw, Caissie, Ballesteros, Murray, et al) in 2025 (or perhaps even over the last two months of the 2024 season, if the Cubs are not in contention). 

As for possible free agents the Cubs might target, Brandon Belt and Carlos Santana (who played for Craig Counsell in Milwaukee last season) would provide some LH power at 1B & DH (Santana is an above-average defensive first-baseman, and Belt still hits RHP very well).  

I can see the Cubs maybe acquiring a pitcher like Tyler Glasnow in a trade and then signing him to an extension (Glasnow has the same agency representation as Kyle Hendricks, so an extension should be possible), which would not be the case with Corbin Burnes or Dylan Cease (both are Boras clients).   

I think in part because of the Carter Hawkins connection with Cleveland, even more-likely than a trade for Glasnow might be a trade for SP Shane Bieber (a post-2024 FA but as a Rosenhaus client he should be open to signing an extension) and closer Emmanuel Clase (signed through 2026 with club options both in 2027 and 2028). The Guardians need power hitters and the Cubs have Christopher Morel, although Morel would not be anywhere near enough to get both Bieber and Clase (or to get Glasnow if the trade is with the Rays). If the trade is with Cleveland for Bieber and Clase, the Cubs would probably have to give up some combination of Christopher Morel, Owen Caissie, Moises Ballestereos, Kevin Alcantara, Jefferson Rojas, and/or James Triantos (probably three from that group), one Top 10 pitching prospect like Ben Brown or Jackson Ferris, and an MLB-ready reliever with closer potential like Daniel Palencia or Luke Little. 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

AZ Phil - If that's the level of return, I would want NO part of that trade to Cleveland for Clase and Bieber. I have some faith that the Cubs have a strong plan for which prospects they will keep (even if they dangle them in trade talks) and which they will move, because they have plenty of solid prospects they can trade but they shouldn't be trading any of the ones they hope will be future core players. Some guys are redundant, so I hope they choose the right players to keep and the right players to move. It's always important for a team to know its own minor league players better than scouts from other teams (obviously), but I don't think that's always been the case for the Cubs and many other clubs. 

Cubster - I watched an interview with Carter Hawkins a couple days ago where he said that although Morel hasn't gotten into any Dominican games at 1B, the Cubs did send coaches down with Morel to work on first base skills during practice. So he is developing those skills, whether the Cubs end up using him there or not will probably be dependent on a lot of factors including how those coaches think he looks at the position while training. 

Cubs bring in 33-year-old lefty reliever Edwin Escobar who has been in Japan since 2016 and has decent stats in Japan. Certainly, they lacked lefty bullpen options last year.

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

Also, Pirates were supposedly in on Escobar, too, so if the Cubs sign him to a minor league contract there is a very good chance that the Pirates will select him in the Rule 5 Draft. So even though it means he would take up a slot on the 40, it better be a major league contract if the Cubs don't want to lose him right after signing him! 

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

One more thing about Edwin Escobar. Even though he had accrued less than one year of MLB Service Time prior to signing with Nippon Ham in 2017 (he ended up eventually with Yokohama), he will have Article XIX-A rights by virtue of the seven seasons he spent in Japan. So he will be essentially locked on the 40-man roster (or at least he can't be outrighted without his consent), and he will be a FA whenever his contract expires. 

bellinger wins comeback player of the year.  the AL winner was liam hendricks and his 5ip before he got tommy john...setting himself up for a 2025 shot at the award.

morel played somewhere besides 3rd and SS...he got 8 innings in CF, 2 putouts and an assist.

reliever market is f'n crazy.  guys that aren't "lights out" but still good are getting crazy loot.  josh hader gonna get crazy paid if these early contracts are an indication of the market.

emilio pagan - 2/16m (8m average)

nick martinez - 2/26m (13m average)

reynaldo lopez - 3/30m (10m average)

it also makes me wonder how much j.assad is worth as a trade piece in this market...or how valuable he is to the team to save money.  these swing guy types are going to start making good loot for relievers.  in 2023 there were 5 pitchers in all of MLB that pitched 200+ IP...8 in 2022...4 in 2021.  Pre-COVID you have to go back to the strike shortened 1994 to find less than 10 pitchers with sub-200 IP (Greg Maddux the only guy in 94).

“Ohtani is believed to already have received multiple bids well north of $500MM, and some speculate he could even wind up as baseball’s first $600MM man.”

ow.  that's a big bet on him being able to pitch into his late 30s and keep hitting for power for a dude that's essentially a DH-only.

Phil, with the Cubs organizational depth at 2B and Morel and Madirigal available on the MLB roster, would you consider trading Nico Hoerner for a young cost controlled top of the rotation starter (e.g. George Kirby) candidate?

[ ]

In reply to by azbobbop

azbobbop: Nico Hoerner is signed thru 2026 but with a fairly substantial $11.67M AAV, Matt Shaw projects best as a second baseman and could be ready sometime in 2024, and Christopher Morel or Nick Madrigal could play 2B until Shaw is ready, so trading Hoerner now for an MLB-ready SP or closer with at least three years of club control left would be fine. However, I'm not too confident that Hoerner alone would have enough trade value to net a SP like George Kirby. 

All teams have to go through a balancing act when placing value on players,  Generally speaking, a top pitcher probably has more value to most team than a top position player.  But a pitcher probably has a greater risk of a career impacting injury than a position player does.

[ ]

In reply to by Wrigley Rat

The problem with Jorge Alfaro as the Cubs third catcher at AAA is that not only is he out of options, but he has too much MLB Service Time to even be outrighted to the minors without his consent. So if he were to be called up as a temporary injury replacement for Gomes or Amaya, the Cubs will not be able to send Alfaro back down to AAA unless he consents in advance to an outright assignment (and that's presuming he isn't claimed off waivers). 

So this may end up being a situation where if Alfaro is called up, it can only happen once, and then the Cubs will either go with three catchers once whoever he is replacing is reinstated from the IL, or they will just release Alfaro. (Amaya is also out of options). 

But maybe the Cubs won't care because by that time Pablo Aliendo or Bryce Windham might be MLB ready and can be the "fungible" third catcher.  

[ ]

In reply to by Arizona Phil

This brings up a question to me… does Aliendo project as a backup C or starter? Maybe a fringe starter? Or what level of backup C? Productive like Caratini or forgettable as soon as he’s gone? He’s a little harder for to to project and would love to hear your thoughts.

Windham strikes me as more of a journeyman 2nd/ 3rd catcher.

[ ]

In reply to by Dolorous Jon Lester

DJL: Pablo Aliendo is a legit MLB prospect (athletic, savvy, above-average arm, solid receiver, and he has HR power although he is a below-average hitter), but he is still a bit raw, so he is not MLB ready, and might not be until 2025 (TBD). So it is too soon to say if he projects as a # 1 or a #2 at the MLB level. 

And as I mentioned previously, Aliendo will be a minor league 6YFA post-2024, unless he is added to the 40 or signs s 2025 minor league successor contract by 5 PM Eastern on the 5th day after the final game of the 2024 World Series. 

Just as a reminder, besides Aliendo, RHSP Luis Devers, RHSP Kohl Franklin, RHSP Riley Thompson, RHRP Eduarniel Nunez, RHRP Jake Reindl, RHRP Ethan Roberts, RHRP Cam Sanders, RHRP Blake Whitney, INF Jake Slaughter, OF Ezequiel Pagan, and OF Cole Roederer are the other noteworthy Cubs minor leaguers eligible to be minor league free-agents post-2024, which is an unbelievable number of quality minor leaguers hitting free-agency at the same time.

DJL: I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs trade some of their post-2024 minor league free-agents, even if it's just for single-A, Complex, or DSL level guys. Or they could be sweeteners ("throw-ins") in trades for MLB players. There are just too many of them to add more than maybe two or three to the 40 (as they did with Luis Vazquez post-2023), but otherwise the Cubs risk losing most of them for nothing (you can't force a player to sign a minor league successor contract).   

I have never seen this many legit Cubs prospects hitting minor league free-agency at the same time.

Usually the focus would be on Cubs Rule 5 Draft eligibles, but there are probably only five post-2024 Rule 5 Draft eligibles of note (as things stand right now, OF Owen Caissie and 3B B. J. Murray are virtual locks to get to get added to the 40 post-2024 if not sooner, and LHRP Riley Martin, RHSP Walker Powell, and OF Christian Franklin have an outside shot, but that's about it). 

Recent comments

  • Arizona Phil (view)

    Most of you have probably seen the game, but for anyone who might have missed it here are the Cubs pitcher reports from Friday's Cubs - White Sox game at Sloan Park... 

    JORDAN WICKS
    FB: 91-93 
    CT: 88-90 
    SL: 80-81 
    CH: 78-83 
    COMMENT: Threw 1.2 IP (40 pitches - 23 strikes - six swing & miss) and mixed-up his pitches well... FB velo went down a tick in his second inning of work... looked a bit fatigued in second inning... allowed two hits and no walks and struck out one... gave up an oppo-field line drive solo HR to a AA RH hitter on a 92 MPH FB... should have easily finished off second inning but made careless error on weak tap in front of mound on his 24th pitch of the inning with catcher running and then made another error trying to grip the ball to make a throw to 1st (only one error was charged of course)... he just looked gassed as he walked off the field...  

    HUNTER BIGGE
    FB: 95-98 
    CH: 87-88 
    SL: 81 
    COMMENT: Faced one batter (strikeout looking) to finish second inning... 8 pitches (5 strikes - no swing & miss)... showed high velo FB but couldn't command secondaries... has had shoulder issues off & on in minors... throws with infielder-type short-arm motion "out of his ear" (he was a two-way player -- 3B/RHP -- in college)...
       
    CALEB KILIAN:
    FB: 96-99
    CH: 84-86
    SL: 81-82 
    COMMENT: Threw two very efficient innings... dominant outing... needed only 24 pitches (16 strikes - six swing & miss)... 6 up / 6 down (K-swing on 98 FB, 4-3 GO on 98 FB, 5-3 GO on SL, 6-3 GO on 97 FB,  K-swing on 99 FB, and F-8 on SL)... held high FB velo in both innings (he was consistently sitting on 98 in both innings and he hit 99 once in each inning) and looked like he could have gone longer...  

    RICHARD LOVELADY
    FB: 89-92
    SL: 81-84 
    COMMENT: Your run of the mill generic FB/SL lefty reliever... had an easy 13-pitch (8 strikes) 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts (both swinging) on low 90's FB and a weak pop fly to CF...  

    JOSE CUAS
    FB: 92-94 
    SL: 81-83 
    COMMENT: Threw a scoreless inning (20 pitches - 15 strikes - four swing & miss, two on FB and two on SL)... although he did strike out two -- both swinging -- and threw 75% strikes, he had some difficulty putting hitters away (eight foul balls among his 20 pitches)... allowed an infield single that probably would have been a 6-3 GO if an MLB player was playing SS (Jefferson Rojas did not play the ball aggressively and he was a half-step too late with his "casual" throw to 1st base)... 

    THOMAS PANNONE
    FB: 84-85 
    CH: 82 
    CV: 70-73 
    COMMENT: Soft-tossing lefty who throws a LOT of mid-80's cutters and a very slow CV... 13-pitch (10 strike) 1-2-3 inning with one K (looking) on a cutter... got three swing & miss, all on cutters...  

    BAILEY HORN
    FB: 92-95 
    SL: 85 
    CV: 78-79 
    COMMENT: Threw an 11-pitch (8 strikes - two swing & miss) 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts (both looking)... broke three bats and induced some weak contact foul balls and a pathetic "mushy" pop fly(?) infield out that wasn't exactly a line drive and wasn't exactly a pop up either...    

    PORTER HODGE
    FB: 94-95 
    CT: 90-92 
    SL: 82-85 
    COMMENT: Threw a 21-pitch scoreless inning to finish off the game... surrendered a walk and a single but also induced a game-ending 6-4-3 DP... one strikeout (swinging) and that was his only swing & miss... he looked a bit uncomfortable on the mound (he seemed kind of hyper while warming up in the pen, too) and had major command issues with FB (threw only 8 strikes out of his 17 FB and went to ball three count on three of the four hitters he faced)... he would appear to be nowhere near ready for MLB and maybe not ready for AAA (yet) either...  

  • crunch (view)

    "is there anything new on cody bellinger since we started the interview?" - boog

    "sorry, i think we're going into a (commercial) break." - carter hawkins

    ...and laughs

  • crunch (view)

    only 2 "pitchcom broke, yo" delays in the game so far...

  • crunch (view)

    kilian out here throwing 98mph in february.

  • Childersb3 (view)

    While we're all speaking about Morel's 3B defense being good enough, his swing has gotten better.

    You could see it a little last fall. He didn't drop his hands behind his body as much (barred arm). But in videos from his Winter ball and this Feb in AZ you can tell he's keeping his hands tighter to his body. He's just stronger and able to have a tighter swing now. He'll be even quicker to the ball this way.

    Fun times.  

  • Cubster (view)

    Cubs vs Sox.

    Dodgers hold my beer. 6 run first including Morel 2 run HR.

  • crunch (view)

    PCA has blue hair...with a buzz cut...odd combo.  he's 2 dozen face tattoos away from being a mumble rapper.

  • crunch (view)

    these uniforms are hot garbage.  everything Fanatics touches turns to...well, hot garbage.

  • crunch (view)

    ...and then a homer.

  • JoePepitone (view)

    And right away, the first ball put in play goes to Morel at 3rd, who fields the grounder to his left and pegs out the runner on a good throw to first.