Espinoza Sharp at Sloan

After hurling three perfect innings in his previous start, Manuel Espinoza fired three innings of one-hit shutout ball (and threw 75% strikes), and Pablo Aliendo singled twice and drove-in a run and Cam Balego tripled and scored, in Cubs AZ Instructional League intrasquad game action Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.   

The Giants at Cubs AZIL game was canceled, so the Cubs played an intrasquad game instead.   

The five pitchers who were scheduled to pitch in the AZIL game threw in the intrasquad game, and the game was called after 3-1/2 innings of play after all of the pitchers got their scheduled work. 

It wasn't possible to field two full teams because only the players who were set to play in the AZIL game played in the intrasquad game (the other position players retired to the clubhouse after early BP), so there was no DH used in the game and Alfonso Rivas (who is already an accomplished hitter and really doesn't need any more game ABs) played LF for both squads and did not take an AB (he stood out in LF for the entire game -- that's 90 minutes straight defense in 90-degree heat without a break, folks).  

Also, Ethan Hearn played 1B and Yonathan Perlaza (ex-infielder now playing outfield) temporarily moved back to the infield and played 2B. 

Fireballin' RHP Danis Correa labored through one inning of work while throwing almost all secondary stuff (only a couple of high velo FB) after throwing almost all FB in his previous outing, while RHRP Eduarniel Nunez threw almost 100% FB (only two off-speed pitches) and was sitting 95-96 (T-97). Both Corraa and E. Nunez are 21-year old Dominican power bullpen arms who could advance quickly if they can improve their secondaries and FB command (easier said than done, obviously).    

Here is the box score from the game: 

Navigating the Off-Season Roster

5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the World Series (which was Sunday 11/1 this season) is an important deadline for several reasons. 

You already know about certain unsigned minor leaguers being declared second-contract or 6YFA on that date/time, but it is also the deadline for outrighting certain players. 

This is why you saw so many players get outrighted by MLB clubs prior to that date/time. 

Strumpf Keeps Cookin' Arizona Taters

Chase Strumpf blasted a solo HR over the LF fence to account for the only run of what was a very brief Cubs AZ Instructional League intrasquad game played Monday afternoon on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.  

The Cubs AZIL game at Rockies was canceled, and only two of the Cubs pitchers scheduled to throw in the AZIL game ended up pitching in the intrasquad game.

The game was called with two outs in the top of the third inning after both pitchers completed their scheduled work.  

Mervis Clout and Rivas Line Drives Rule the Day in Mesa

Matt Mervis crushed a solo HR over the RF fence & 30-foot high screen and off the outside west wall of the stadium across the street, Alfonso Rivas rifled an RBI double and a single and scored run, and Nelson Velazquez walked, stole a base, scored a run, and collected an outfield assist, in Cubs AZ Instructional League intrasquad game action Saturday afternoon on Field #1 at the Riverview Baseball Complex in Mesa, AZ.

So NOW what????

10/31 UPDATE

The Cubs have exercised their 2021 $16.5M club option on 1B Anthony Rizzo, and declined their 2021 $25M club option ($10M buy-out) on LHSP Jon Lester and their 2021 club option ($1M buy-out) on INF Daniel Descalso, making Lester and Descalso Article XX-B MLB free-agents.  

So the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 31 (nine slots are open). 

However, the Cubs must reinstate the three players who remain on their MLB 60-day IL (RHRP James Norwood, RHRP Manuel Rodriguez, and LHRP Brad Wieck) no later than tormorrow (Sunday), at which point there will be 34 players on the 40.  

10/30 UPDATE:

The Cubs have claimed 2B-3B-LF Max Schrock off waivers from the St. Loius Cardinals, and LHRP Rex Brothers has been sent outright to AAA Iowa. 

If Brothers doesn't elect free-agency immediately, he will be automatically declared an MLB Rule 55 minor league 6YFA on Sunday at 5 PM Eastern, unless he agrees to sign a 2021 minor league successor contract).  

Brothers is out of minor league options and he is arbitation-eligible post-2020, so he was likely to be non-tendered on 12/2 anyway. 

Schrock has two minor league options left and he cannot elect free-agency if he were to be outrighted, so the Cubs very well may choose to run him through waivers themselves, but they must wait seven days before he can be placed back onto Outright Assignment Waivers. (Clubs must wait at least seven days to place a player claimed off waivers back onto waivers during the post-season and off-season, and at least 48 hours during Spring Training and the regular season).  

Schrock has accrued less than a year of MLB Service Time (he was added to an MLB reserve list for the first time in August) so he is at least three years away from salary arbitration. 

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10/28 UPDATE

LHP Andrew Chafin, RHP Tyler Chatwood, OF Billy Hamilton, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Cameron Maybin, C Josh Phegley, and LHP Jose Quintana were automaticaly declared Article XX-B MLB free-agents at 9 AM (Eastern) today (Wednesday 10/28), so the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) now stands at 32 (eight slots are open). 

The Cubs must decide within the next couple of days whether to exercise the club options on INF Daniel Decalso ($3.5M 2021 salary or else $1M buy-ouit), LHP Jon Lester ($25M 2021 salary or else $10M buy-out), and 1B Anthony Rizzo ($16.5M 2021 salary or else $2M buy-out). It is almost a lock that the Cubs will exercise the 2021 option on Rizzo and decline the options on Descalso and Lester. 

So with the Cubs almost certainly exercising their 2021 option on Rizzo and declining the options on Descalso and Lester, the Cubs MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) after the World Series will be at 31 (nine slots open, because Descalso becoming a free-agent won't open up a slot on the 40 because he is presently on the MLB 60-day IL).  

The three players on the MLB 60-day IL who are not eligible to be MLB Article XX-B free-agents (James Norwood, Manuel Rodriguez, and Brad Wieck) must be reinstated no later than 5 PM (Eastern) this coming Sunday. Once the trio are reinstated, the Cubs MLB Rseerve List (40-man roster) will be at 34 (with six slots open).  

The Cubs also must decide by 5 PM (Eastern) on Sunday whether to add any of their minor league players who are eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agents (second-contract or 6YFA) to the 40. At present there are 22 minor leaguers eligible to be MLB Rule 55 minor league second contract or 6YFA on Sunday (see full list below) if the player does not sign a 2021 minor league successor contract or is not added to the MLB 40-man roster by the 5 PM (Eastern) deadline.

In addition, any 2020 Rule 5 Draft-eligible player who is not eligible to be a minor league free-agent after the World Series but who was sent outright to the minors after signing a 2020 MLB contract (Trevor Megill and Michael Rucker) must be added to the MLB 40-man roster no later than 5 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day after the final game of the 2020 World Series or else the player cannot be added back to the MLB 40-man roster of the club that outrighted the player until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft. 

See ORIGINAL POST below for what comes next after that...

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ORIGINAL POST 10/2

Giants Put the Slug on the Cubs at Sloan

Hunter Bishop drilled an RBI triple and an RBI single, walked, stole a base, and scored two runs, Will Wilson doubled twice, singled, walked, scored two runs, and drove-in another, Luis Matos doubled twice and knocked-in a run, Brett Auerbach cracked a two-run triple, and Logan Wyatt blasted a solo HR, as the Giants thrashed the Cubs 11-4 in AZIL game action Friday afternoon at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

Eight of the Giants' twelve hits were for extra-bases (including five doubles, two triples, and one HR). 

Yonathan Perlaza hammered a solo HR and a triple and racked-up an outfield assist, Chase Strumpf collected two RBI singles, Jordan Nwogu singled twice, walked, stole a base, and scored a run, and Nelson Velazquez laced an RBI single for the Cubs in a losing cause.    

The 21-year old switch-hitting Perlaza is being converted from an infielder (3B-2B) to an outfielder at Instructs, in large part to let him concentrate on his hitting. (His infield defense was pretty bad, and he would sometimes seem to take an error with him to the plate). But there is no doubting his offensive tools (hard contact with a slightly upper-cut swing path from both sides of the plate and above-average speed on the bases). He has played all three OF positions so far at Instructs, but looks most comfortable in LF (he played ten games in LF for South Bend in 2019). He will likely be added to the 38-man AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 so that he can be selected in the Major League Phase only ($100,000 draft price with the potential to re-claim in the Major League Phase, versus $24,000 draft price with no right to reclaim if he were to be placed on the AA Tennessee reserve list and be selected in the AAA Phase).    

Cubs RHP Danis Correa pitched the 9th inning for the Cubs, throwing mostly all fastballs and consistently hitting 97-98. Like Perlaza, the 21-year old Correa is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, and while his secondaries need a lot of work and his command comes and goes, some club might want to take a gamble on him, if for no other reason than the high-velo FB. Because of his size (he is only 5'11 155), he likely profiiles as a one-inning high-octane bullpen arm. Like Perlaza, Correa is a virtual lock to be placed on the AAA Iowa reserve list on 11/20 so that he will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft's Major League Phase only.      

Here is the abridged box score from today's game (Cubs players only): 

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