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Looking ahead to Rule 5 Roster Decisions

Looking ahead to Rule 5 Roster Decisions
Should the Cubs roster Gioskar Amaya?

There is another aspect as to why the Cubs don't bring up players like Armando Rivero and Kris Bryant -- and that aspect is roster management.

There is a finite amount of space on a roster and you have to manage that space as best you can.  Sometimes that means delaying one call-up so that you can protect a player later so that you don't lose him in the Rule 5 draft.

With the Cubs increasing their talent level the past 3 years, roster management becomes more important than ever.   In the past they have lost utility infielders Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty, but that could change.  They don't want to be the team that loses a Hector Rondon-type player.  Perhaps less direct is the missed opportunity to develop a player.  Players gets drafted before they become a finished product.  It's possible that player could have developed differently had he stayed in the minors -- and even if he didn't have a future with the team, there is the possibility that he could have developed some trade value in the minors.  Let's use a player to illustrate what I mean.  What if, for example, Marco Hernandez takes a step forward in AA with his offense?  A slick fielding SS with even an average bat has value on the market.  But if you lose that player then you lose that value as well.  A good organization is not in the business of giving away value for nothing in return.

This isn't a case of choosing between two players and deciding who is more valuable.  Kris Bryant is obviously more valuable than Marco Hernandez.  You aren't sacrificing Bryant for the sake of Hernandez, you are sacrificing one month's worth of Bryant in a non-contending season for Hernandez's career in the organization and/or potential future trade value.  Considering that month also has significant financial ramifications for the Cubs and their ability to control payroll costs, it becomes a rather easy decision to not call-up Bryant.

Rivero is a better example, however, because the delay in his call-up has nothing to do with finances.  It is strictly about conserving roster space.  The Cubs don't need to have a month of Rivero this season at the expense of losing a player like Hernandez in December.

Now, I am only using Hernandez as an example but we can use any number of Rule 5 eligible players to illustrate.  Let's take a look at some of the more talented players who are vulnerable to the Rule 5 draft this year.  You can see the full list at The Cub Reporter.

Keep in mind that the Cubs have already decided to protect would be eligibles Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, and Rafael Lopez by virtue of their early call-ups.

We have mentioned often that there are two basic types of players to protect.

  1. Near MLB ready players who could contribute and have some upside, probably as role players.
  2. Higher upside players who are not MLB ready but have some useful skills (i,e. speed, versatility, defense) that makes them useful as a 25th man until the team can send them back down the next season.

Here are the players that best fit those descriptions...

  • Gioskar Amaya, 2B, Daytona (A+)
  • Jeffrey Baez, OF, Kane County (A)
  • Zach Cates, RP, Tennessee (AA)
  • Hunter Cervenka, RP (L), Tennessee
  • Gerardo Concepcion, RP (L), Daytona
  • Willson Contreras, C, Daytona
  • CJ Edwards, SP, Tennessee
  • Marco Hernandez, SS, Daytona
  • Andrew McKirahan, RP (L), Tennessee
  • Carlos Penalver, SS, Kane County
  • Ivan Pineyro, SP, Tennessee

Won't be protected:

  • Jeffery Baez is too raw and does not give enough value  on defense as a corner OF'er to have any chance of sticking on a 25 man roster.  He has some upside but not enough for a team to give up full year's worth of a roster space while taking a year away from much needed development.
  • Willson Contreras' appeal comes from his athleticism, raw talent, and the scarcity of catching prospects.  An off year makes it pretty certain the Cubs won't protect him, especially since the Cubs have since acquired Kyle Schwarber, Mark Zagunis, and Victor Caratini to fill the gap, not to mention the emergence of Will Remillard and Cael Brockmeyer as potential prospects.  It's unlikely a team takes Contreras given his poor hitting performance, but had he hit well, his athleticism, surprising speed and ability to play the OF might have made him interesting as a 3rd catcher/25th man.
  • Carlos Penalver is a slick fielder but he did not hit at the low A ball level and is still too young and erratic to be of much value as a defensive replacement.

On the bubble:

  • Gioskar Amaya is a mature beyond his years player who can be an asset defensively at 2B.  He has a good approach at the plate and enough bat speed to hit MLB quality fastballs with regularity.  He has not shown much extra base power this year but does have the potential for gap power, especially to his pull side.  Amaya is respected in scouting circles and some team may take a chance.  What works against him is that he is essentially a 2B only and doesn't have great use as a utility if he has to come off the bench.  There is some risk of losing him and he has value in this organization, so the Cubs may choose to protect him even if he isn't close to being MLB ready and appears to have his path to the big leagues blocked by a number of more highly regarded prospects.
  • Zach Cates showed tremendous progress with his fastball command at Daytona and was one of the team's most reliable relievers in the first half.  He struggled some at Tennessee but showed flashes there as well.  Cates can hit 96 mph to go with above average athleticism.  That alone will draw some attention from scouts.  The Cubs will get a longer look in the AFL to determine whether they should protect him or take their chances.
  • Hunter Cervenka has a power arm (low 90s with sink/tail, high 80s cutter) and he's lefty, so that alone makes him a risk to be taken.  He has been exceptionally tough on LH hitters this year, making him attractive as a potential LOOGY for now.  The key for him is command/control.  Cervenka showed some progress in that area but was streaky in that regard.
  • Gerardo Concepcion has come a long way and has been in the low 90s at times this year, flashing an occasionally good breaking ball that drew swings and misses when I saw him at Kane County.  He was an effective starter in Cuba's highest league, the Serie Nacional, so he is not your typical A ball prospect.  He has a good chance of holding his own as a lefty reliever in the short term.  The Cubs are sending him to the AFL to get an extended look and to make up for some lost innings.  If he can hold up physically, he has the potential to be a back-end starter, so that may increase his value even more.
  • Marco Hernandez isn't ready for the bigs but he is a talented defender and good athlete with some speed.  That alone gives him pretty good utility value for a year, after which a team can send him down again and hope his bat develops enough to make him a starter.  Hernandez made some great strides in terms of his maturity and his hit tool this season.  Is it enough to make him a potential Rule 5 casualty?  That's a decision the Cubs will have to make.
  • Andrew McKirahan has a live fastball (I saw him sit 92-93 at Kane) and a good breaking ball.  He misses bats with regularity (just under 8 Ks/9 IP) and this year he has kept the walks down to under 2 per 9 IP (around the 5% range).  The difference is that he stayed healthy this year.  His dominance at Daytona (0.99 ERA/2.76 FIP) and continued strong performance at Tennessee (3.45 ERA/3.50 FIP) certainly drew some attention and his left-handedness will probably get him a look.
  • Ivan Pineyro was injured much of the season (shoulder) and didn't pitch well when he was on the mound (5.55 ERA/4.85 FIP).  He is a finesse starter with a high 80s fastball and a good change, so he depends on good command.  That did not happen this year and Pineyro got hit hard.  The Cubs liked Pineyro when they acquired him and sending him to the AFL is in part to give him another look and also to make up for lost innings.  My guess is he won't be protected as many teams have similar pitchers and Pineyro hasn't done much to convince anyone he is close to being ready.  Most would agree he has the poise and maturity to handle the jump, but physically he needs development, particularly with his command and breaking stuff.

The lock:

  • CJ Edwards: Do I need to explain why? Edwards is a top 100 prospect with electric stuff when healthy and the central piece in the deal that sent Matt Garza to Texas.

The Cubs probably have a good idea of who they'd like to protect but it is impossible to say with any certainty how much space they will need this offseason.  Will they want to leave a space open to facilitate an early free agent signing?  Can they get what they want without losing a roster spot via a trade?  There are still questions to be answered.  Those questions include the players the Cubs may remove from the roster to make room.

Players who will come off the 40 man roster

  • Carlos Villanueva is a free agent and he will open up a spot, so we need not worry about protecting CJ Edwards, who is next in line for a roster spot.  The rest of the roster composition will depend on the following decisions....

Here are the other players who could be on the outside looking in when decision time rolls around...

  • Josh Vitters:  The Cubs have cut the cord with their other former Pre-Theo top prospect, Brett Jackson.  Could Vitters be far behind.  A poor season at AAA which showed no improvement in his plate discipline or defense makes it likely that the Cubs consider him a poor fit for their 25 man roster.  I have questioned his commitment to development in the past though I don't know if the Cubs feel the same way.  Add that he is out of options in 2015 and this is close to a no-brainer for a non-tender.
  • Chris Rusin:  His non-call speaks volumes, though publicly the Cubs would probably say he reached his innings limit.  That may be true, but if Rusin was a part of the plan the Cubs wouldn't have let it get to that point.  He also has less innings than other pitchers who did get the call, most notably Eric Jokisch.  The addition of Jokisch and Felix Doubront as LHPs to the 40 man roster give even more indication that the writing may be on the wall here.
  • Chris Valaika: Valaika got a much deserved reward with a call-up but the job security of replacement level utility infielders with no options on 40 man rosters is tenuous.  The Cubs will not hold on to Valaika if roster space is needed.  They can either bring him back on a minor league deal or find a similar player who will.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa:  He had a vesting option which did not vest.  Now it becomes a club option for $5.5M.  The Cubs have little to show for their investment because of Fujikawa's unfortunate early injury, but the option presents little value for them right now.  The guess here is they decline that option and allow him to become a free agent.  They may still bring him back, but the free agency at least opens up some short term space.
  • Zac Rosscup may be getting an audition for his roster spot this September.  You have to like the 90-94 mph FB and the slider, both of which are swing and miss pitches, but his inability to throw strikes makes him a question mark.  The Cubs have another lefty in McKirahan who doesn't miss quite as many bats, but does throw hard and throws more strikes. Still, it's hard to give up on a lefty with Rosscup's good stuff.  He would undoubtedly get picked up quickly by a team that thinks they can coach him up.
  • John Baker:  The popular backup is great in the clubhouse, but below replacement level on the field.  That makes him a non-tender candidate that the Cubs could try to bring back on another minor league deal.

The Cubs could easily open up as many as 5 spaces without affecting the 2015 roster.  It's possible they will leave one open, either for the Rule 5 Draft or to give them the flexibility to sign a free agent quickly.  But they could always wait to make those changes until it's needed.

It's difficult to know how many players the Cubs will protect but CJ Edwards is certain to be one of them.  The Cubs will then have 3-5 spots to consider with Gerardo Concepcion, Andrew McKirahan, Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, and Zach Cates as my early favorites, but things are certain to change and we'll learn more as the season/offseason unfolds.

Filed under: Rule 5 Draft

Comments

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  • Agree with your list, and I think that's exactly how I'd rank-order them too. AFL helps them make the choice on Concepcion and Cates. McKirahan vs. Rosscup is a tough choice, you can only protect one LOOGY. I think I like the guy that throws strikes.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Thanks. I tend to lean toward McKirahan's ability to throw strikes as well (if I HAD to choose). Some tough decisions for the Cubs ahead and it does seem like they're going to buy some time with the AFL.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Does Conception's contract factor into the decision? I don't remember if it is higher than the MLB minimum, or how many years are left.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    He signed a MLB contract but was removed from the 40 man previously when he was battling mono...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    But that didn't cancel his contract. One reason why he cleared waivers was that the claiming team would have had to take over his contract, which had quite a lot of money still to be paid. I wonder if there is enough owed that it might deter someone in the rule v draft?

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I never said it canx anything... He signed a $6MM 5yr deal. That's not enough money to weigh significantly in any decision.

  • There's also the issue of the PTBNL after the rule 5 draft from the trade with the Red Sox. Seems like we'll have to protect an additional player from that and then lose that player. (maybe?) Perhaps that roster spot could then go to Lester.

  • In reply to hawkmcd:

    That could factor in as well, but I suspect it's about a list of players and they will wait until after the Rule 5 to see if any of them are taken.

  • Im probably in the minority, but I'd like to see them pick up Fuji's option. Aside from one outing he's been very good. Also think you keep Rosscup. All those eligible relievers are appealing but losing one wouldnt hurt our depth in relievers so I'd rather keep the spots for free agents.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I'm all for keeping both. I only question whether the Cubs want to bring Fujikawa back at $5.5M. A lot for a RP, especially when the Cubs have so many late inning studs making a lot less.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    True but with payroll almost a non-issue, it may mean picking up the option or losing him to a team that can offer him a larger role. In that case I'd pick it up because you can never have too many good relievers, especially who can pitch late innings.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In addition, the bullpen is getting quite full with players who are just as good or better than Fujukawa and a lot cheaper.

    Unless they make starters out of a couple like Grimm and Ramirez, they are going to have a hard time fitting in Fujikawa.

    Rondon
    Vizcaino
    Ramirez
    Grimm
    Strop
    Wright
    Riviero
    Schlitter
    Parker
    Rosscup

    In addition, their rotation is quite full.

    Arrieta
    Hendricks
    Doubrant
    Turner
    Wood
    Wada
    Straily

    One of more of the losers are likely to end up in the pen, probably Wada.

    All that assumes that they can somehow get rid of E. Jackson, and do not sign any free agent pitchers, including another lefty to join Wright in the pen, or put Jokich out there.

    I don't see a lot of room for Fujikawa at this point.

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    In reply to TheMightyGin:

    I think Fuji is worth a major-league deal, but $5.5 mil is a bit steep for a 33-year old relief pitcher.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    There are just better options than Fujikawa. Vizcaino, Rivero to name a couple.
    Rosscup hasn't pitched well this season, which is unfortunate. Edwin Jackson and Ryan Sweeney could be casualties imo

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    I think there's also a chance that Ruggiano is non-tendered. He's the only arbitration eligible player that the Cubs may think about non-tendering; IMO, they'll retain everyone else. He had a nice season, but if you scratch the surface, it was fueled by an unsustainable .375 BABIP. Advanced metrics didn't like his defense, either. He'll be 33 next season, and will need to be given a raise over his current $2 mil. I don't think he's a lock.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Possible, but I think there are other priorities. It depends on how many they want to protect and ultimately. how much they add in the offseason. I think it would take a lot of activity before they got to Ruggiano and I think the Cubs aren't going to make big changes in terms of numbers. I think they'll be selective in who they add this year and some of it may come through trade in which they can add without increasing roster size.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If the Cubs had a right handed hitting OF that was ready for a full time gig I could see that occuring, but they don't so 2-3M for Ruggs is not unreasonable. His defense fell off because he was hobbled by leg injuries all year. That may become a constant given his age, but at that price he is worth the risk.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    IDK, that guy might be Mike Olt. Or, I could see them keeping a Lake/Szczur type as a late defensive replacement, pinch runner and occasional platoon mate for Coghlan. With the additions of Soler/Baez/AA/and soon Bryant, they don't really need Rugg's stick.

    I see the case for keeping Ruggs, but IDk if he is a lock like I thought he was 2 months ago.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Olt might be that guy, but he has a lot to prove and shouldn't be handed the job. Lake should never be mentioned with the term defensive replacement. And again, after the season he just had, he needs to take the job away from Ruggs, not be given it. Szczur would at least have value for defense and as a pinch runner, but those are relatively unimportant if he can't hit and he did not get on base much at AAA and his SLG percentage in the PCL is completely awful. He also needs to prove he should have the job.

    If Ruggs struggles next season or one of the young guys takes a step forward then he should be easy enough to move in a trade given his low salary or he can simply be released. No sense in giving up the depth he provides until we have a guy that shows he deserves the PT though.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If they decide to replace Ruggiano with a different veteran that provides more leadership/experience or is simply a big upgrade, maybe aTorii Hunter type, then Ruggs can be traded easily enough. I can't think of a situation beyond injury where his salary next season would outweigh his value. Letting him go for nothing is the wrong move.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I don't disagree with anything you said... only that at 0.4 WAR and looking to make $2-$3MM, he is not a lock to make the roster. We lose nothing by moving on from him...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Moving on from him equates to trading him in my mind, not non-tendering him. This isn't a Darwin Barney situation where he was due to make 4M+ to put up a 600 OPS. Given the lack of RH power and OF bats in general around the big leagues, the team would have no issue finding a taker for him at that salary. He is better than probably half of the backup OFs around baseball. The .4 WAR is a reflection of the lack of ABs because of injury and the poor defense (also injury related).

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yeah tough to see them carrying Lake, Sczcur, and Ruggs.

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    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    That's a lot of baggage to carry. I could see keeping Ruggiano, but would need to find a way to unload Lake and "Hail Julius." Their roster spots could be filled easily enough through trades or free agency.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Ruggiano does not have much trade value being on the 60-day DL.

  • In reply to JollyCharlieGrimm:

    Means nothing. Putting him on the 60 Day DL basically allowed them to add one of Jokisch or Lopez now instead of releasing Vitters (who might still be needed if they lose another guy that can play 1B) or waiting until the offseason when Fuji, Villanueva, etc come off the roster. Teams do this all the time in September.

    If his injury actually is serious and could affect him next year, then that would change the equation, but I haven't seen any indication it will.

  • I understand the logic behind protecting players from the Rule 5 draft much better now after reading your post. Thanks John!

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    In reply to AggBat:

    ...and if the Cubs added Bryant and Rivero, you can scratch two more names off the list of players they can protect. That's another reason we can't just call everyone up the fans want to see in September....it can cost you down the road

    Luis Valbuena and Hector Rondon are on our team as a direct result of a 40-man roster crunch by the Indians (two different times!)

  • In reply to AggBat:

    You're welcome! Glad it helped.

  • I like your list and think Andrew McKirahan is one to definitely keep. I have a feeling about this kid that his arrow is heading up. He would be a great (and cheap) weapon to have in the BP for years to come.

  • In reply to IowaCubbie:

    He's a sleeper in this system to be sure. Good arm and good control.

  • John, due to this article (and many like it), we're going to protect you from the Rule 5 draft. This is an excellent article and it demonstrates why you are so appreciated.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Haha! Thanks!

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    In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    I think we would all like to keep him, but sometimes tough decisions have to be made. Unless we had a couple open spots when we acquired Cat Garcia as well as our 2-headed recap monster we will have to expose him to the Rule 5 Draft. I hope I am wrong, though, and we have an open spot. In which case he is a lock. ;)

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    I don't know? John's value might be at it's peak. We might have to pull the trigger on a trade. Maybe someone will over pay for him. :-)

  • In reply to AggBat:

    What is the prime age range for writers? I still have a good 10-20 years :)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Upside is through the roof!

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Thanks ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, but you gotta admit, that "overpay" part is kinda attractive...

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Ha! Getting overpaid when I'm past my prime is a dream I think I should strive for.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha, Depends on the viability of the brain cells. Got to be able to construct meaningful paragraphs. I'd say barring inteference from peat flavored beverages you can make the upper range there. :)

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    There is a correlation between writers and the love of whiskey :) Although i doubt i drink nearly as much as most writers. I'm generally a one whiskey guy, maybe 2 on some days. It's when I am out and someone buys me the that 3rd one (yes, I am a lightweight!) that I get into some trouble ;)

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    LOL TEC...

    It really is a good article, thoroughly reasoned and explained!! Kudos, John!!

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Thanks MB.

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    I do not comment much since I usually like to wait hours sometimes even a day before reading an article so I can read the comments as well but I would like to join in and thank you John for another great season of recaps and insights. I am also on board with pre-order your book, I think you have a big enough following to make it a huge hit. Keep up the good work, I know I am not alone when I say I truly appreciate all of your hard work. The future is here!!!

  • fb_avatar

    Hey John, somehow the first two words of this article ("Dear Gordon,") got cut off.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha! Is that what he is ranting about today?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Complete with quotes from player development expert Scott Boras on why it's best for his development to be called up now. I only wish I was funny enough to make that up.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Well he's not just in the news reporting business now... he's a news creator!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No conflict of interest there from Boras!

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Haha I wish John or any of the Cubs Den writers or even most of the commentors on this site could the Cubs reporter for the Sun-Times instead of that nut job.

  • fb_avatar

    When you said Cervenka was a "risk," because he was lefty and threw in the 90s I was thinking that doesn't sound risky at all, but of course you meant to get picked in the rule 5 draft.

    I see them holding on to Rosscup just because he seems like a pretty good match for the upside of a lot of the young lefty relievers in the system.

    Also Baker might be my favorite Cub; I would be surprisingly sad to see him go.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    Yes...that's what I meant. I will edit that to make it more clear.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    I think there is a very good chance Baker is brought back on a minor league deal and fills the Eli Whiteside role next season.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I know Baker hasn't been great at the plate, but I think he keeps the team loose. He reminds me of a poor man's Kevin Millar. The main difference being that Millar could actually hit. Baker seems like a fun guy that is well liked by his teammates.

  • In reply to AggBat:

    I like him too, but the roster is getting good enough where they should be focusing on bringing in glue guys with talent. If the team does not bring in a veteran like Russell Martin in the offseason, I think there is a very good chance Baker could beat out Lopez for the backup job next year even if Baker comes to ST on a minor league deal.

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    In reply to AggBat:

    The difference between Kevin Millar and most of the human population is the ability to hit.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    Don't get me wrong I am all for clubhouse guys but Baker has to go. I realize back up catchers are not on the roster to hit but this dude can't catch and throw either. Only thrown out 5 of 50 base stealers with as many passed balls as Beef in almost half as many games. Half his throws end up in right center or bounce twice before the bag. Not to mention his punch and judy approach at the plate, hitting .200/.277/.242 with a 32% K rate.

  • In reply to BryantDABear:

    but a sparkling 0.00 era

  • In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:

    ^^ This Rocks! ^^

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    In reply to BryantDABear:

    I have to agree here... For what Baker gives us, I say we sign Millar, as is now, and I would bet he would still hit better than Baker does now and may throw out more runners. I am sure he is funnier and would be even better in the club house too. While we are out it, lets bring back Manny and give him a call up. That would be a fun clubhouse. All kidding aside, it is sad to see how under developed good all-around catching is around the league.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    I like Baker a lot too. He isn't my favorite, but it makes you wonder why backup catchers are always so popular. Ole saw hands Koyie Hill, Hank White, Navarro...

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    In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:

    Koyie Hill was a travesty and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:

    Yea, but Hank White and Navarro both had baseball tools, and were excellent back up catchers. Hank White was a tremendous reciever, called a great game and had occasional pop. Navarro couldnt catch worth crap but hit a ton. Now Koyie Hill i just can't explain... but i agree, no room for Baker unless he wants to hang and teach how to be a loose, funny dude that can't play baseball, in the minors

  • The reality is with all this depth we've accumulated, we're going to start seeing our Discards scooped up by other teams. So losing some of these fringe guys via waiver claims or rule 5 is just going to be something we have to contend with. One of the problems of getting so laden with talent.

    If the guys have any real value, vs just a flyer, then we can move them for a prospect, etc to create a 40 man spot. If not, then we haven't lost anything as an org by moving on from the likes of Rusin, etc...

    I think Concepcion had to be a lock for the 40 man though.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This. Fans get too attached to the fringe guys some times or think there is some great value being lost. Guys like Rusin are prevelant throughout baseball. Lose one, there is another available later on.

    I think what happens is on bad teams like the Cubs have been, guys like Rusin get more playing time and fans begin to see them as more important or having more big league potential then they really do. Guys like Rusin, Vailaka, Vitters are a dime a dozen. It is getting difficult to see the upside that Lake, Parker, Straily possess as they head into their last season of minor league options. They either establish themselves long term next season (unlikely in all cases) or they become the Rusin, Vailaka, Vitters of next offseason. you can't be afraid to lose those types of players.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It would/will be interesting to see how many players we have lost in the Rule 5 draft for the past 6 years vs how many we lose going forward in the next 5. Some of our discards might be top 15 prospects in some of the weaker farm systems.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    We haven't lost anyone. Starling Peralta and Marcus Mateo were both selected in recent years, but returned.

    We will likely lose a lot of org filler guys in the AAA/AA phase of the draft. IDK about anyone we lose being a top prospect elsewhere. I think anyone with that type of value/upside gets dealt before lost/given away.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I think you could make a case that Amaya or Hernandez could be ranked in a weak farm system like the Angels or Tigers. I agree with the fact that the FO will not let anyone get away without trying to deal them first.

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    If they are selected, they have to stick on the 25 man roster all year which would void their prospect status...

  • I feel like you need to write a follow up to this article called "The Cautionary Tale of Starlin Peralta" that shows the dangers of selecting a guy out of A ball and how it impacts his development.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    That should be the Lendy Castillo tale. Peralta wasn't affected much if at all. He was chosen, but returned before the season started. He missed no development time because of it. The worst that may have happened is the D'Backs coaches were asking him to focus on different stuff than the Cubs and it may have screwed him up a little.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Maybe...but Peralta had a pretty horrific time at Daytona after he was returned and the name Lendy Castillo makes me nauseous, so I went with Peralta.

  • Guys that are sure to be protected:
    Pitchers (20): Arrieta, Beeler, Doubront, Edwards*, Grimm, Hendricks, Jokisch, McKirahan*, Parker, Ramirez, Rondon, Rosscup, Schlitter, Straily, Strop, Turner, Vizcaino, Wada, Wood, Wright

    Infielders (9): Baez, Castillo, Castro, Lopez, Olt, Rizzo, Villanueva, Valbuena, Watkins

    Outfielders (7): Alcantara, Coghlan, Lake, Ruggiano, Szczur, Soler
    Sweeney

    That leaves 4 spots open to add early FAs and add at least one of these borderline guys I would like to protect: Cervenka, Cates, Hernandez. I'm as big of an Amaya fan as anyone, but even I wouldn't use a Rule 5 pick on him at this point, we are probably safe leaving him unprotected. Cervenka probably comes down to a choice between him and Rosccup, I don't see them protecting both. Cates is the one I would be least hesitant to lose and I see little chance they add him to the roster.

    Guys I expect to be removed that are still under team control but hold little to no trade value:
    Jackson, Rusin, Vitters, Vailaka

    If additional room is needed to sign FA after the draft or to add Bryant/Rivero next April, these should be the first guys to be traded/removed to make room: Lake, Sweeney, Parker, Straily

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Did you forget Concepcion? I think if he shows anything at all in the AFL, he will be protected. He was a prized signing out of Cuba, IIRC (although some suggested he was signed just to get to Soler), and his mono really derailed his development.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I think Concepcion has a good shot at getting protected. He pitched well and it wasn't smoke and mirrors. The stuff was solid. I can easily see a team plucking him if he's unprotected. Few class A pitchers are better equipped to handle that jump right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think there is a good chance Concepcion gets picked as he is very advanced for an A ball pitcher, but I'm not sure that is good enough justification to protect him. Despite having a starters repetoire his stuff lacks behind the others a little bit in my eye. McKirahan has better stuff and equally good command, Rosscup has better deception and MLB experience, and Cervenka has a much better fastball. They can't protect them all.

    McKirahan is the best of all of them in my opinion so he needs to be protected for sure. They only have room to protect one, maybe two more. If they feel Rosscup and Cervenka are never going to be able to throw enough strikes than Concepcion is a viable choice over them. I guess I am just more willing to bet on stuff/upside at this stage of their careers when dealing with relief pitchers.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Concepcion can stick as a SP with his repertoire. That gives him the best upside, despite being a tick or two slower on the FB.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Just forgot to comment on him in the original post. Rosscup/Cervenka/Concepcion are lumped together in my mind. I'll trust the FO to choose the guy they think has the best chance between them. There is a good chance we lose one of Cervenka or Concepcion. I don't worry too much about guys that top out as the 7th arm in a bullpen though.

    I would much rather protect Amaya. Gioskar is my guy. I was trying to approach the post without emotion and I think I may have overcompensated regarding Amaya. If it came down to protecting 2 of Hernandez, Amaya, Cervenka, Concepcion and Cates then Marco and Gioskar are the choices in my mind. They are the two with the most upside.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I will agree with you on Amaya and Hernandez, but I will disagree with you on Concepcion. I simply think it would be selling low not to protect Concepcion. I feel that starters are simply more valuable than relievers. Concepcion has that chance to be a starter. The others, not so much.

  • I just dont see how we keep Fuji with that pricetag.. he isnt pitching high levarge situations anyways.. he is probably gone.. plus we have so many capable bullpen arms avail as is.. no need to keep him

  • Great article, Thanks!

  • In reply to less disappointed:

    Thank you LD!

  • How does the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft affect these players (and any others that might get scooped in)? I would expect with the depth building in the minors, some of those guys might get moved up in other organizations.

  • Nice piece. I wondered earlier on if the Cubs might keep Fujikawa as a mid-season flip piece, which is what they hoped to do with Versa. He's had only two bad outings (which if his name was Arodys Vizcaino would be perfectly forgivable), but it's an expensive flyer and of course, there's value to be considered in losing the 40-man roster spot.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I'm fine with bringing Fujikawa back. I didn't say anything about his performance, which has been fine for the most part between minors/majors. But at 5.5M there are lower cost options who have performed exceptionally well and are better bets to be with the Cubs long term. So if they bring back Fujikawa, it makes sense to decline the option and bring him back on a deal that makes him more valuable -- and that includes a potential midseason trade.

  • Great list and analysis of how the rule 5 roster decisions may shake out with the Cubs. I don't think Amaya, Pineyro, or Concepcion merit being put on the 40 man roster. They are just too low in the system now, and don't provide much long term value to try stashing them for a year.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Thanks. Those are good points as they're definitely not slam dunks. Some think Amaya could be an average starting 2B and that would be huge value if a team got him for nothing. I also think Concepcion can be helpful to a team, so it wouldn't be so much a stash as it would be a guy who could actually contribute as your 2nd or 3rd lefty out of the pen. It really depends on what individual teams think they can do short and long term. It's partially subjective in that sense.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You really think Concepcion can contribute right away at the MLB level? I concede that you know more about him than I do. My knowledge comes only from your recaps and looking at box scores. But I just don't see him being able to get hitters out at that level. Not saying he won't eventually be that good, but he still looks like he's a few years away.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I think his FB is good enough and he has a larger repertoire and better idea of how to pitch than most A ball pitchers, certainly more than most A ball relievers -- and certainly more than Lendy Castillo did. I think he has a shot to hold his own. and by that I mean a 4.50 ish ERA in a limited, low-leverage role.

  • I know that the "potential" is still there with Olt and Lake, and that their raw tools are way up there, but I wouldn't mind seeing them turn into some younger prospects and a couple 40-man openings.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    Way to early to give up on Lake and someone will pickup Olt

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I gave up on Lake last year. As soon as I saw how poor his instincts in the OF were I concluded he would have no future value. You can't carry guys that can't get on base and can't play defense unless they can hit 30 HR.

  • Since pitching is hard to find I would protect our iffy prospects
    and let guys like Vitters, Jackson and a few older veterans go.
    Coming up with a 40-man roster list in mid-Nov 2015 is going
    to be harder

  • The thing that stands out to me is the plethora of talented relief pitchers and up and coming candidates like Rivero and Viscaino. We actually have a potential overabundance next season. Is there any trade value to these guys once we figure out who we are keeping?

  • In reply to Bilbo161:

    Schlitter and Parker are the two most expendable and are probably guys that would be in many pens around the league but they probably don't bring much in return and may have more value as depth in case one or two guys blow out their elbows in ST next year.

    Grimm would have some value, but I am beginning to like his versatility and like him to take over for Villanueva next year.

    If they have a lot of faith in Vizcaino and Rivero, which seems reasonable, that could make Strop expendable and he would have some value as a trade chip.

  • The 40-man roster must be turned in mid-Nov the Winter meetings
    are the first week of Dec. Lets hope we can trade some of prospects
    before then.

  • Castro out for the season. may be about to lose his position.

  • Great breakdown John. It's informative articles like this which I believe makes Cubs Den readers some of the most knowledgeable fans in the Cubs community.

    I personally really hope they don't lose Edwards, Hernandez, Cervenka, McKirihan, and Amaya as my top choices...with Concepcion, Cates, Baez not far behind. I don't mean that they should protect all those players, just that I would hate to lose them most off the list. I realize the Cubs won't protect a guy like Baez who is still at a low level, which is why I worry that a team like the Astros with no plan on being competitive could take a player like that with less worries about a 25 man roster spot for a year. I know it's still doubtful that a player like that gets taken, but I just hate our prospects being snatched away....I guess that's the price you pay for having such a stacked farm system.

    I could also maybe see a team take a flyer on a guy like Frank Batista...worst case scenario is that if they don't like what they see in Spring Training, they send him back to the Cubs and are only out 25 grand.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Thanks, GD. Batista could be ready to be a middle reliever right away, would make an interesting choice. Wouldn't shock me if Mateo was taken again considering he hit 97 this year and he's ready to help now.

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    This was this announcement I was looking for. I might finally loosen up my stance on trading a SS.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/27144/of-3b-cubs-want-versatile-kris-bryant

    Fell better guys?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    The way the team is now, it looks like he would go to OF. But if Miami would want to trade Stanton for a package that was headlined by Castro or Russell, then it could change. I'm not saying that is going to happen, or even likely, but like the author wrote, a trade would change the equation. If there is no trade, I think they'd want to find a way to call up Russell next season.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I never proposed trading a SS for Stanton but rather a TOR pitcher + another top pitching prospect. But with the recent announcements from this FO about Schwaber getting a lot of work at catcher and now Bryant getting looks at the OF next Spring, you can pretty much see the writing on the wall that the Cubs fully intend to keep all 3 SS we currently have.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    It looks that way now. But like Theo said in another interview, it is hard to predict how the lineup will look going forward. They could trade for Stanton, have Schwarber at catcher, sign both Lester and Scherzer, and put together a team that could win three straight World Series. Stanton has made it clear he doesn't want to stay in Miami and the Cubs could offer a "Three time All Star" and more. The first team ever with 5 players who hit 30+ HRs. I can dream...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    WHY DO GUYS ALWAYS THINK TEAMS ARE JUST GOING TO TRADE AWAY THEIR BEST PLAYERS???? STANTON ISNT COMING TO THE CUBS.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to fwbcub:

    Google "Stanton trade" and see what comes up. The rumor is that the Red Sox are going to make a strong push. Here's just one quote: "Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported last week that the Marlins are not confident they can successfully extend Stanton, and are internally planning for all possibilities."

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    So Rogers/ESPN basically just published the same interview/article two days in a row....click bait.

  • I am surprised there is no mention of removing Lake from the 40 man. Although he has off the charts athleticism, he has regressed in his development. I would have to think that he has 25 games to show any kind of value or he will be gone.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    There are still a handful of players on the roster that are just as bad that don't have his athleticism, so he isn't safe, but he isn't at the top of the list yet either. He won't be around in 2016.

  • fb_avatar

    OK..... THE SKY IS FALLING! I get that Baez has already been deemed a God and fans (not me) want us to trade Castro (a potential .300 hitter) away for the first pitcher offered because apparently, Baez will single handedly win every ball game even if he never puts the bat head on the ball. I get that he needs to play daily to develop and learn. I get that he will have great potential in time. What I don't seem to understand is WHY DOES HE NEED TO BAT SECOND IN THIS LINE UP AND SOLER IS SO FAR DOWN IN THE ORDER?????? This kid doesn't need the pressure of the two hole and Soler is showing he is the hotter hand right now. I like Renteria and I feel he has handled the kids well this year, but where are the managerial adjustments to this lineup. An under .200 hitter in the two hole doesn't make sense to me. His skill set will NEVER translate to a number two hitter ever. He should project to a 4-5-6. HELP ME TO UNDERSTAND PLZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yours truly, Chicken Little

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to fwbcub:

    It was announced that he was batting second because he would get more AB's during his adjustment period for the rest of this year. The Cubs are trying their best to get him through his known slow starts at each level by giving him a lot of AB's in a season that is lost. In hopes that next Spring he takes off from the beginning....

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bocabobby:

    I know that is why he started off there, but I think it is time to back him off at for the rest of the month. It is not helping his psychy or his production. The late call up would warrant more ABs for Soler. I don't think the few extra ABs will be as big a benefit as what winning is doing to showcase our young pitching. I think we are seeing what Baez is going to be. An Adam Dunn type with less walks. He has never been my dream prospect and if we trade Castro (who is making contact regularly) then I will be sick to my stomach until the world series is won! I cant believe I am saying this, but I was hoping to see one last killer daft pick and we are already falling to the 9th spot in the draft. LOL! We are better than the defending champs for Pete's sake! If we aren't careful, we might try to win a wild card spot next year. the Pirates and the Reds have proven that they aren't interested in one.

  • In reply to fwbcub:

    BECAUSE WINNING ISN'T VERY IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW. Getting Baez at bats is. Next year, if he is sporting a terrible OBP, then he will hit further down in the order.

  • fb_avatar

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 1m

    #Cubs Kyle Hendricks named NL Rookie of the month for August

  • IMO, we're looking at a silver lining here in that up to last off season, we were the team looking to steal from the cookie jar of other teams. Now we're agonizing over which cookies to save for later. A great problem to have with respect to organizational depth. Also why I love FO approach of taking a college bat 1st round(low risk of ever becoming rule 5 eligible), 2nd round college arm(same) then bulk high risk/ high reward arms the rest of the way. Does Theo create rule 5 "insurance" in this way?. Discuss amongst yourselves.

  • 2 questions based on FO moves this year:

    1 who is the A's PTBNL to finish the Shark/Hammel deal?

    2 what was the trade agreement with Boston regarding the Cubs Rule 5 pick? Was it a simple trade?

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