Cubs New 40 Man Roster. Additions all about upside, plus more on Loux and other notes

Now that the frenzy is over, we can look back and examine the Cubs new roster and the moves that helped shape it.

The Roster (recent additions in bold)

Pitchers (21)

  1. Scott Baker, RHP
  2. Jeff Beliveau. LHP
  3. Michael Bowden, RHP
  4. Alberto Cabrera, RHP
  5. Shawn Camp, RHP
  6. Lendy Castillo, RHP
  7. Jaye Chapman, RHP
  8. Casey Coleman, RHP
  9. Gerardo Concepcion, LHP
  10. Rafael Dolis, RHP
  11. Matt Garza, RHP
  12. Carlos Marmol, RHP
  13. Trey McNutt, RHP
  14. Zach Putnam, RHP
  15. Brooks Raley, LHP
  16. Chris Rusin, RHP
  17. James Russell, LHP
  18. Jeff Samardzija, RHP
  19. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP
  20. Robert Whitenack, RHP
  21. Travis Wood, LHP

Catchers (3)

  1. Welington Castillo, C
  2. Steve Clevenger, C
  3. Dioner Navarro, C

Infielders (9)

  1. Darwin Barney, 2B
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Junior Lake, 3B
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Ian Stewart, 3B
  6. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  7. Christian Villanueva, 3B
  8. Josh Vitters, 3B
  9. Logan Watkins, 2B

Outfielders (7)

  1. Tony Campana, OF
  2. David DeJesus, OF
  3. Brett Jackson, OF
  4. Dave Sappelt, OF
  5. Jorge Soler, OF
  6. Alfonso Soriano, OF
  7. Matt Szczur, OF


  • There was some last minute questioning as to whether Nick Struck was actually eligible since he signed late and didn't play with the Cubs organization until 2010 but I've been able to confirm that he was indeed eligible.  I consider Struck to be the player most likely to be chosen from the Cubs group of unprotected players.  My sleeper pick is Marcus Hatley, who has a big arm with 2 plus pitches and  has reached AAA.  A team looking for a potential power reliever might give him a look in the spring.
  • There is no question that these decisions were all based on one thing: upside.  The Cubs chose to protect pitchers who less ready for the big leagues such as Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack over a more polished Nick Struck.  They also protected a Class A 3B in Christian Villanueva.  The Cubs are about stockpiling assets for the long term and each of those roster additions exemplify that.  The 4th player, Logan Watkins, also has nice upside as a potential starting 2B.  He certainly would have been selected by a team had he not been protected because of his ability to step in and play a valuable utility role right away.  Although I was surprised, I'm encouraged the Cubs have decided to keep Whitenack.  To me that means he's healthy and throwing well again and that the Cubs think he has regained the promise he showed 2 years ago.  For the record, I thought the Cubs would keep McNutt, Villanueva, Watkins, and Struck.  3 out of 4 is not bad.
  • As far as how predictions on which players would be on the outside looking in...not too bad.   I predicted Bryan LaHair would be one of the odd men out, saying, "For me, LaHair has two strikes going against him.  1) He's out of options and 2) He doesn't have a lot of value as a reserve outfielder because he offers neither defense nor speed. "  I did think the Cubs would find a taker in a trade, however.  As for Carlos Gutierrez, I said this, "If it isn't Coleman, the Cubs may turn to the old, "last one in, first one out" rule to roster management.  That would leave guys like Zach Putnam and Carlos Gutierrez on the bubble.  Of the two, Gutierrez's age (26) and recent injury may put him at risk."
  • The Cubs pulled off a minor, but very good trade when they dealt the injured Jacob Brigham, RHP, back to the Texas Rangers for a higher rated prospect, RHP Barrett Loux, and a player to be named later.  It seems odd that Texas would make this deal but Carrie Muskat of stated that the teams had agreed to rework the deal if necessary.  Brigham's injury and the Cubs roster crunch made it necessary.  Baseball America ranked Loux as the 20th best prospect in a strong Rangers farm system while Jonathan Mayo of ranked him 18th.   He works with a low to mid 90s fastball and curve.  If he develops a solid 3rd pitch he can be a mid rotation starter.  Said Rangers scouting director Kip Fagg when Loux was signed, "“I see a starter, a four-pitch guy (fastball, curveball, slider and changeup). I think it’s going to be a solid-average fastball, maybe a little extra at times. I never envisioned him as a guy who’s going to be a plus-plus fastball guy. It’s really good command, he can really pitch with the fastball.”
  • It is expected that Bryan LaHair will look for an offer, possibly from Japan, after the Cubs were apparently unsuccessful finding a taker.  UPDATE: LaHair to Japan is a done deal according to Sahadev Sharma.
  • Recently acquired RHP Carlos Gutierrez cleared waivers and will be assigned to AAA Iowa.  He is still rehabbing from an injury and the Cubs took a calculated risk DFA'ing him, knowing that every team was going through their own roster crunch.
  • One of the players I was frequently asked about after the roster decisions were made was Chone Figgins.  To that, I have to say, "no thanks".  If you don't like the way Luis Valbuena hits, you'll absolutely loathe Figgins' bat.  He has finished with a negative WAR in each of the last two seasons while putting up a .484 and .533 OPS, respectively.  He can play defense, but so can Valbuena, or Ian Stewart for that matter.  If he's interested in a minor league deal and an invite to spring training, I'd consider that.  But at 35 years old, the odds of him bouncing back are low.
  • The Cubs didn't make any more moves but they still have time to wheel and deal.  It's unlikely a team will want to deal for Nick Struck because they can't protect him, but the Cubs may still look to deal someone off their roster, such as Casey Coleman.  The Cubs are at the 40 man limit and as it stands now, they won't be able to add a player through the Rule 5.  That should change between now and December.
  • Two potentially intriguing players that were selected to their respective rosters include Texas IF Leury Garcia, who would have been a great pick, in my opinion, and former RHP phenom Michael Ynoa.  Another top 10 prospect, Phllies CF Jiwan James, was left exposed and the Cubs are looking for a player of his athleticism at that position.  But after a poor offensive year at AA, it'll be tough to carry that bat for a whole season. At some point before the draft we'll look at some interesting players who were left unprotected.

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  • So is the only way for them to get the roster down now to trade?

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    They can still release a player, but if they wanted to do that, they would have done it by now. It's a last resort, I'm sure but if they wanted to DFA Coleman, they can still do that. They just can't add a guy like Nick Struck anymore.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ah, good to know. I'm still confused on whether Struck even needs protecting but we'll probably find out in the coming days. Looking forward to that unprotected player list too.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I'll try and find out about Struck. Right now I'm assuming he's exposed to the draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The more I look at the requirements, the more I wonder if Struck is at any risk for a Rule 5 loss. He has only 3 years of performance time, not the 4 that is stated to be a requirement. His playing time didn't begin until 2010.
    Maybe the Cubs have known this all along, and didn't protect him because they knew they didn't need to.....

    (Or, although they named him Minor League Pitcher of the Year, maybe they don't project him highly enough to care....)

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I apologize. Now I see that you addressed the Struck situation in the revised lead posting. I'm still confused, but what else is new?
    More will be revealed.....

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Was able to confirm that he will be eligible for the Rule 5, unfortunately. I think Watkins and Villanueva were gimmes, so it came down to a a choice, in my opinion, of 2 of Whitenack, McNutt, and Struck. Struck is the most polished but as a 5th starter type, he had the least upside, though he probably has the highest floor.

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    I do not understand why they would protect Coleman and not Struck (if Struck actually is eligible for the Rule 5). I also think it's odd that MLB has the 40 man roster set before teams face the deadline to tender contracts. For example, Ian Stewart could just as easily be non-tendered as not, but we're 'forced' to keep him on the 40 man before we've made a definite decision on his future. One could argue that's our fault for not making that decision, but I would say there are likely a hundred players on 40 man rosters who their teams are pondering non-tendering at the deadline. The timing of it all makes no sense.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    The timing really does make it difficult. For all we know, the Cubs have already decided to NT Stewart but since they didn't need the space today, they kept him because it buys them some time to make a deal. On the other hand, not much to go on in the 3B market, so maybe Cubs felt they needed to keep Stewart.

  • LaHair does not surprise me . I know a lot of people loved him, big strong guy who hits home runs, but there were some big red flags. The first being his age, how many good players do you remember coming up at age 28 or 29? The second is his lack of position , once he lost the first base job he was done.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Also essentially a platoon player. Just a player that's hard to carry on your roster, especially in the NL where versatility is more of a premium. I wish him well. He's a good guy. I'm sure nobody was eager to tell him.

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    I never thought he was a star; he had a great start, but it was fueled by an impossibly high BABIP.

    But I thought he at least had SOME value as a 1B/DH/PH-type for an AL team. I thought someone over there would look at him as a cheap bat, worth a shot to see if he could smack some homers off the bench or as part of a low-budget platoon. I thought we could flip him for a low-grade prospect or fringy releiver, something.

    But guess I was wrong. He just doesn't bring much to the table besides power

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I'm a little surprised a team like Baltimore showed such little interest. Seemed like a good fit, but they may want bigger name players. Soriano probably more likely to interest them.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly....last points on LaHair:

    --He did us a great service by allowing us to take our time with Rizzo. He filled 1B at an important time for us

    --Whenever All Star players are picked, and the conversation comes around to worse all-stars ever, you know Brian LaHair will be in that conversation for years to come. We should all be famous for something.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    He could still be picked by an AL team. Cubs may not have had an offer that interested them.

  • Can they still get down to 39 before the Rule V draft. Is so, will they?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Yes, they can still remove players from the roster. Whether they do depends on who's on that list. There are some interesting names but not anyone that jumps out right now. I was hoping that was going to be Garcia, but Texas wisely protected him.

  • Excellent job as always, John, especially being right on with your thoughts on who would be left out. Looking forward to the list of other teams unprotected players so we can start speculating about what the Cubs may do! Thanks.

  • In reply to Manny:

    Been scouring for names but nobody excites me too much yet. Some interesting guys but more role player types, teams did a good job of protecting their upside guys.

  • In reply to Manny:

    And thanks Manny :)

  • Really makes you wonder if the Cubs HAD to give Concepcion that MLB deal to get him signed. I know it was undoubtedly a bargaining tool to land Soler, but, still.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Hard to say. I know that some execs were surprised but all it takes is one other team to be willing to offer that to make it necessary.

  • I look forward to your unprotected player piece. Maybe there's a IF that can handle 3B, making the Stewart decision easier.

    Has a rule 5 pitcher ever started the next season? Usually bullpenners are taken or a starting pitcher gets hidden in the bullpen.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    I do too, though it's going to be a lot of work scouring rosters. I can't think of a Rule 5 guy who started the next year. And now that the talent pool has been diluted, it's even less likely. You're probably looking at role players, bullpen guys at best, at least for that first year.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's tough to look at Rule 5s; you never know. Good luck with that John.

    I think a more interesting shop will be on the non-tenders; there are usually some interesting names that get non-tendered, and it really opens up the bargain-bin FA market. Cant' remember when the deadline is, but IIRC, Dec 5 or thereabouts.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Haha. Thanks :) I will need some luck. More than likely I'll do it over a long period of time, collect names as I go, and have something closer to the date of the Rule 5. Also want to make sure the Cubs actually open up a spot for that.

    Non-tenders are more interesting to me as well. Usually they're cheap pieces to trade for and like the Rule 5, these are guys with some talent who haven't lived up to expectations. Unlike the Rule 5, of course, they've at least been good enough to reach the majors.

  • Five third basemen on that 40 man roster.

    Someone will have to go.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Agreed. Villanueva best long term prospect so he'll stay. Lake, Valbuena offer some versatility, so they'll probably stay too. That leaves Vitters and Stewart in my opinion.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Who of the IF/3B group, besides Barney and I guess Valbuena, can fill in at SS in case (gulp) Starlin gets hurt or needs a rest? Seems kinda thin at middle IF.
    Do you think we'd need to look for a middle IF backup in the FA or released lists? OR.....maybe Watkins makes the big team and fills that role.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Both can play SS in a pinch, but wouldn't want either to play there for an extended period. I think it's better to keep Watkins at AAA but I did come up with a couple of possibilities in latest Rule 5 piece.

  • john ive been reading several articles on teams this morning and these were the guys who were mentioned as being left off of teams rosters: cole figueroa, leslie anderson, chris mcguiness, matt laporta, jesus aguilar, tj mcfarland, hector rondon, james simmons, julio rodriguez, kyle kaminska, kyle heckathorn , kentrail davis, eric farris, brock kjeldgaard, cody scarpetta, nate freiman, matt clark, cody decker, jason hagerty, jonathan galvez, beamer weems, sawyer carroll, dan robertson.

    just helping you get a head start on that article, is there anything intriguing about any of the guys that i listed above? any high upside guys?

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    Matt Laporta is interesting, only because it wasn't that long ago that he was the centerpiece in the CC Sabathia deal. He was considered a very polished, can't-miss type of prospect who was rocketing through the Brewers system at lightning speed, as a top-30 in all of baseball talent.

    Not that we should be interested, because he's just a right-handed version of LaHair, but just goes to show you never know with prospects, even "can't miss" ones. He missed.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    i did a little research and im intrigued by aguilar (1b, 22), mcfarland (lhp, 23), rodriguez (rhp, 21), kyle kaminska (rhp, 23), heckathron (rhp, 24), and scarpetta (rhp, 23).

    i think laporta is kind of a lost cause and probably wont be taken in the rule 5 draft, if the cubs wanted them they could probably sign him to a minor league deal.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    LaPorta is de-rostered. He's on their AAA roster now. Won't be eligible for Rule 5.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Yea, they missed huge w him.

    Which is why I am such a supporter of signing Garza if he is healthy.

    Price, yes its important, but we are a HUGE market team which some seem to forget at times. Even if we sign him to 4-5 year deal and he is only good for 2-3 yrs of it. It would not be a huge setback for this team especially w how little the payroll has been relative to the revenue.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Thanks Josh! Very, very much appreciated!

    I actually did start with one piece and coincidentally I used a couple of those names (Weems and Galvez).

    Here's my general tip: Look for good raw arms, upper level arms with advanced command and at least average stuff, and versatile,athletic position players.

    Anderson a solid hitter but positions he plays (LF, 1B) is an issue. Cubs could have kept LaHair if they wanted guy like that. Ditto for Aguilar, McGuiness, Decker, Clark Frieman, Kjeldgaard (saw him in fall, huge guy with big power) don't look for Cubs to pick up 1B types. Hampers flexibility.

    Cross them off the list.

    Kentrail Davis can play OF and hit a little but would like him much better if he could play CF at MLB level. Carroll and Robertson more like 4th/5th OF'ers but can't play CF either. Forget Hagerty too...Cubs have 3 catchers who are MLB ready.

    On pitchers...
    Cubs passed on McFarland last year and it looks like he's regressed a little. Good control but doesn't miss bats. James Simmons has also shown good control in the past but not a lot of upside. Heckathorn a pitchability guy, low ceiling. Rodriguez interesting but doesn't have enough command for pitcher without overpowering stuff.

    So, I'd cross them off too.

    Here are the guys I like best from your list other than Galvez, Weems...

    Rondon intriguing talent but hasn't been healthy. If Cubs think he's healthy he's interesting. Scarpetta a big RP with two plus pitches, Kaminska is my favorite of the command/control pitchers. Most advanced and did well in fall league.

    May write more about those guys later.

  • John,
    Where might Loux rank among Cub's prospects?

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