Cubs Preparing for The Big Freeze
The White Sox have claimed LHP Ian Clarkin off waivers from the Cubs.
The Cubs claimed Clarkin off waivers from the Sox last Tuesday, and obviously the Cubs thought they could get him through waivers if they put him on waivers again right after claiming him.
The Sox apparently believed they could get Clarkin through waivers last week, but regretted losing him after he was claimed. So now they get him back.
So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 38 (two slots are open).
11/20 UPDATE #4:
The Cubs have selected the contract of LHP Justin Steele from AA Tennessee and he has been added to the MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), and OF Johnny Field and LHP Jerry Vasto have been sent outright to AAA Iowa.
Field and Vasto were claimed off waivers about three weeks ago (Field from MIN and Vasto from KC), and the third player the Cubs claimed off waivers at that time (INF Jack Reinheimer) would have been outrighted to the minors today, too, except he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers earlier in the day.
So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 39 (one slot is open).
11/20 UPDATE #3:
The Cubs have acquired 27-year old RHRP Rowan Wick from the San Diego Padres in exchange for 3B Jason Vosler.
A native of Canada, the 6'3 234 Wick was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Cypress CC in the 9th round of the 2012 draft as a LH power-hitting catcher. He spent his first two seasons in pro ball as a catcher before moving to RF (where he had the top-rated OF arm in the minors), hitting 247/328./372 with 34 HR (and 237 K) in 224 games (760 PA). He became a part-time pitcher in 2015 and then moved quickly through the Redbirds system as a reliever (he features a mid-90's FB that touches 98 and a plus-CV that he uses as his strikeout pitch), getting added to the STL 40-man roster after the 2016 season (which was his first full-season as a pitcher). He was claimed off waivers by the Padres last February.
Wick is a Draft-Excluded Player (he was outrighted to AAA by the Padres at the end of Spring Training and then was re-acquired on August 31st), so he cannot be sent outright to the minors during the off-season (the earliest he can be outrighted is 20 days prior to 2019 MLB Opening Day). Therefore, if the Cubs want to remove Wick from the 40 later this off-season, it would have to be via trade, release, or a non-tender on 11/30.
The Cubs 2018 Cubs Minor League Player of the Year, Vosler (Cubs 2014 16th round draft pick - Northeastern) was a strong candidate to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster today if he hadn't been traded. He goes to a San Diego club that sold their starting 3B (Christian Villanueva) to a Japanese club earlier today, so Vosler could get a chance to play the hot corner at Petco right away.
So with the Wick acquistion, the Cubs MLB 40-man roster is now full... at least until the next shoe(s) drop(s) in a few minutes...
11/20 UPDATE #2:
The Cubs have claimed 23-year old LHP Ian Clarkin off waivers from the Chicago White Sox.
A star pitcher with the Team USA 18U team in 2012 and a 1st round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 2013 out of Madison HS in San Diego, CA, Clarkin was a one-time NYY Top 10 Prospect. He was part of the package of young players sent to the Sox in July 2017 in the trade that sent 3B Todd Frazier, RHRP David Robertson, and RHRP Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees.
The 6'2 215 Clarkin features an 86-88 MPH FB with sink, a plus-CV, ans a low 80's slider, and he projects as a lefty ground ball inducing swing-man along the same line as Mike Montgomery, except Clarkin has minor league options left (Montgomery does not).
The big problem with Clarkin has been health (he has had six DL stints in six seasons), including elbow, ankle, oblique, and groin injuries that resulted in considerable lost development time (it took him six years, but he finally got to AA in 2018).
There are no restrictions on outrighting Clarkin to the minors during the off-season (he does not have Rule 6 Draft-Excluded Player status and he is not an MLB Rule 55 player or Article XX-D player), so it's possible that the Cubs will place him back onto waivers at some point if his slot on the 40 is needed for another player.
So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 39 (one slot is open) with more moves still to be made today.
11/20 UPDATE #1:
The Texas Rangers have claimed INF Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Cubs.
The Cubs claimed Reinheimer off waivers from the New York Mets on November 2nd.
So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 38 (two slots are open).
11/20 ORIGINAL POST:
Today (Tuesday 11/20) at 8 PM (Eastern) is the deadline for MLB clubs to file off-season minor league reserve lists with the MLB office, so the Cubs have just a few hours left to decide which of their 73 Rule 5 Draft-eligible minor leaguers to add to their MLB 40-man roster in order to prevent the player(s) from being eligible to be selected by another MLB club in the Rule 5 Draft.
The 2018 MLB Rule 5 Draft will be held on the last day of the Winter Meetings (Thursday December 13th), and minor league reserve lists are used to determine eligibility for selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Once the reserve lists are filed, Rule 5 Draft eligible players on minor league reserve lists are essentially "frozen," meaning the player cannot be added to the MLB 40-man roster, transferred to a different minor league reserve list, or traded until the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft.
However, free-agents can be signed to minor league contracts throughout the "quiet" (frozen) period (and free-agents who meet Rule 5 Draft eligibility who sign a minor league contract can be selected in the Rule 5 Draft), and players can be sent outright to the minors during most of this "quiet" period as well. (Rule 5 Draft-eligible players can be outrighted to the minors up until two days prior to the Rule 5 Draft, and all players sent outright to the minors prior to the Rule 5 Draft are automatically eligible for selection in the draft, even if they otherwise would not be Rule 5 Draft eligible).
At present, the Cubs have one slot open on their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), so they can add only one Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to the 40 today without removing a player. However, it is fairly likely that the Cubs will add as many as three Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to the MLB 40-man roster today, meaning at least two more slots on the 40 might need to be cleared immediately, and then probably three or four more additional roster slots will be needed for MLB free-agents they might sign, a waiver claim, and/or even possibly a Rule 5 Draft selection in the near-future.
While there is no guarantee that a club can get a player through waivers, the days leading up to the November roster filing deadline is (generally speaking) one of the best times of the year to try and "sneak" a player through waivers, because all clubs have prospects they don't want to lose in the Rule 5 Draft, and claiming a player off waivers when a club is scrambling to open up slots for Rule 5 Draft-eligible prospects on the 40 just creates more of a log-jam headache. So expect the Cubs to try and outright two, three, maybe even four players from their MLB 40-man roster today, to create additional openings on the 40.
As I have mentioned previously, it's very possible that the Cubs will try and run LHP Jerry Vasto, OF Johnny Field, and INF Jack Reinheimer (who were claimed off waivers after the conclusion of the World Series) back through waivers in order to clear additional slots on their MLB 40-man roster. The fact that the Cubs (who have the #25 waiver claim priority) were able to acquire Vasto, Field, and Reinheimer off waivers means they have a good chance of securing waivers on the trio if they put them back on waivers again. And there would be no restrictions on outrighting Vasto, Field, and Reinheimer during the off-season, either (which is probably one of the reasons the Cubs claimed those particular players). They are not Article XX-D players so they cannot elect free-agency if outrighted, they do not have MLB Rule 55 status so they didn't have to be outrighted by 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day aftef the final game of the World Series, and they do not have MLB Rule 6 Draft-Excluded Player status so waivers can be requested during the off-season.
RHP Jen-Ho Tseng and OF Mark Zagunis are in the same situation as Vasto, Field, and Reinheimer (no off-season restrictions on being outrighted), so they are also candidates to get run through waivers with Vasto, Field, and Reinheimer, the main difference being the Cubs signed and developed Tseng and Zagunis, so the Cubs may value them more than a player they claimed off waivers from another MLB organization.
Two other players on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster (C-1B Taylor Davis and RHP Allen Webster) have Draft-Excluded Player status, so they cannot be sent outright to the minors until 20 days prior to 2019 MLB Opening Day. And RHRP Justin Hancock is an MLB Rule 55 player, so he can't be outrighted until he signs a 2019 contract (and the Cubs can't force him to sign until the March 1st auto-renewal date). So other than by trade or outright release, the only way T. Davis, Webster, and Hancock can be removed from the 40 during the off-season is by non-tendering the player on 11/30 (the MLB contract tender date, which was moved up to 11/30 this year because the normal contract tender date of 12/2 falls on a Sunday). So it's considerably more difficult to get T. Davis, Webster, and Hancock off the 40 during the off-season than would be the case with Vasto, Field, Reingheimer, Zagunis, and Tseng, but an 11/30 non-tender would get it done (if the Cubs feel the player's slot on the 40 is needed for another player). And the added benefit of non-tendering a player on 11/30 is that he does not need to be placed on waivers in order to be removed from the 40, and he can be subsequently re-signed to a 2019 minor league contract after the Rule 5 Draft (if the player is willing).
The Cubs added three post-2017 Rule 5 Draft-eligibles (RHSP Adbert Alzolay, INF David Bote, and RHSP Oscar de la Cruz) to the 40 on 11/20 of last year, so expect the Cubs to probably add (at most) three Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to their MLB 40-man roster today.
Bote was added to the 40 this time last year after hitting a robust 333/395/536 for the Mesa Solar Sox in the post-season Arizona Fall League (AFL). It's not unusual for the Cubs to assign a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player to AFL, to help the club decide which (if any) to add to the 40 on 11/20. So the AFL is often used as a "proving ground" for pitchers and position-players who are under consideration for promotion to an MLB 40-man roster. This year, five Rule 5 Draft-eligible Cubs minor leaguers played for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL.
As I have mentioned previously, the Rule 5 Draft eligible minor leaguers most-likely to have their contracts selected and get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster today are (in order) LHP Justin Steele, RHP Trevor Clifton, and 3B-1B Jason Vosler. If a fourth player is added (which is unlikely), the most-likely candidates are (listed alphabetically) C-1NF P. J. Higgins, C Jhonny Pereda, RHP Erick Leal, RHP Erling Moreno, C Jhonny Pereda, and C-1B Ian Rice.
So far this season, the Cubs have added one player (RHRP James Norwood) to the 40 who was eligible for selection in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft. (OF-INF Ian Happ was added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster during the 2017 season, but he would have been eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft post-2018 if he wasn't already on the 40).
In addition to deciding which players to add to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs also must decide which Rule 5 Draft-eligible players to place on the 38-man AAA Iowa reserve list, as well as which ones to place on the 37-man AA Tennessee reserve list, and which ones to assign to the 35-man reserve lists of their Myrtle Beach, South Bend, Eugene, AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs #1, and DSL Cubs #2 affiliates.
At most only 38 players can be placed on the AAA Iowa Reserve List (Rule 5 Draft-eligible players on the AAA Iowa Restricted List do not count against the AAA reserve list limit), and clubs usually leave two or three, sometimes as many as five slots open on their AAA affiliate's reserve list for minor league free-agents who are signed and for players who might be outrighted in the weeks prior to the Rule 5 Draft draft, and for players the club might select in the AAA Phase (a club must have as many slots open on its AAA affiliate's reserve list prior to the start of the draft as players selected by the club in the AAA Phase of the draft).
The decision whether to place a Rule 5 Draft-eligible player on the AAA Iowa reserve list or on the AA Tennessee reserve list matters because players on AAA reserve lists can only be selected in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft ($100,000 draft price with a right to possibly eventually re-claim player for $50,000), but players on a AA reserve list and the reserve lists of affiliates from classifications below AA can be selected in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft ($24,000 draft price with no right to re-claim).
While the Cubs did not select any players in last year's Rule 5 Draft, they did lose one player in the Major League Phase (RHRP Pedro Araujo was selected by the Baltimore Orioles off the AAA Iowa roster) and three players in the AAA Phase off their AA Tennessee roster (INF Andrew Ely was selected by the New York Mets, C-1B Alberto Mineo was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays, LHP Chris Nunn was selected by the Houston Astros). Araujo spent 74 days on the Orioles MLB 25-man roster in 2018 before being placed on the DL with a sprained right elbow UCL for the rest of the season, so he remains an MLB Rule 6 Selected Player and will need to spend an additional 16 days on an MLB 25-man roster in 2019 before Selected Player status is removed.
Remember, all it takes is one MLB organization to like a particular Rule 5 Draft-eligible player for the player to get selected, so the Cubs could very well lose one or more players this year.
The Cubs have actually lost many more players in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft (most-notably 1B Justin Bour) than they have in the Major League Phase over the past few years, a testament to the depth of their farm system. They are likely to lose a few more players in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft this year as well.
So figure about 40 Cubs minor leaguers eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft will be available for selection in the AAA Phase of the draft, and once drafted, players lost in the AAA Phase are gone for good (or at least they can't be re-claimed).