Cubs Minor Leagues
12/14 UPDATE: Baseball America reports that the Cubs have re-signed three of the four players who were non-tendered on 12/2 to 2017 minor league contracts: LHP Gerardo Concepcion, RHP Conor Mullee (claimed off waivers from NYY last month), and LHP Zac Rosscup.
All three will presumably receive an NRI to Spring Training.
The fourth non-tendered player (3B Christian Villanueva) did not re-sign with the Cubs, so he will probably try his luck with a new organization (could be seeking a major league deal). Villanueva would be blocked by both Kris Bryant and Jeimer Candelario if he were to remain with the Cubs.
Concepcion was non-tendered so that the Cubs would not have to pay him a $600,000 minor league "split salary" in 2017, Mullee missed the last half of the 2016 season with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (may have undergone surgery), and Rosscup underwent shoulder surgery last March.
By non-tendering Concepcion, Mullee, and Rosscup and then re-signing them to minor league contracts, the Cubs were able to remove the trio from the MLB 40-man roster without exposing the players to waivers, and by waiting a week to re-sign them, the Cubs did not risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft.
ORIGINAL POST (12/13) - Baseball America is reporting that the Cubs have signed four free-agent pitchers to 2017 minor league contracts.
All four will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
Three of the names are probably somewhat familiar, as two of them have pitched in the big leagues with other MLB organizations, and a third was in the Cubs minor league system last season.
As a practical matter the four were officially signed after the Rule 5 Draft so that they would not be eligible for selection, but the contracts were likely negotiated sometime earlier in the off-season.
After 14 seasons, the Cubs have apparently decided to leave Boise, and so they will now be looking for a new advanced Short Season (SS-A) affiliate in the Northwest League (NWL) to replace the Hawks. Salem-Keizer and Eugene would be their two most-likely destinations (presuming the Cubs opt to remain in the NWL), since both have an expiring Player Development Contract (PDC) with their current MLB partner. (The Cubs had a PDC with Eugene prior to moving to Boise).
The Cubs have already renewed their PDC with the AA Tennessee Smokies through the 2018 season, and their PDC with AAA Iowa extends through 2016. But there are three Cubs PDCs set to expire after the 2014 season:
Dillon Maples, Jen-Ho Tseng, Felix Pena, and Ivan Pineyro threw "live" BP this morning, as Cubs minor leaguers had their first full-squad work-out at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.
2014 CUBS MINOR LEAGUE CAMP ROSTERS (last updated 3-6-2014):