Plenty of action for Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft

Michael Rucker (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Michael Rucker (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

The Cubs were active in both phases of the Rule 5 Draft held this morning. They added one and lost two players in the MLB portion, before adding four while losing another two in the Minor League portion. No team had more players involved across the league.

MLB Phase

Add RHP Trevor Megill

One of the top relievers available in the draft, the Cubs were able to snag a MLB-ready arm to compete for a bullpen job this spring. I don’t have a ton of info on Megill right now, but he is considered a strike-thrower who can run his fastball into the mid-90s. His slider and change are both considered average pitches as well.

The 6’8″ 235 pounder had success in AAA last year (54 IP, 58 H, 19 BB, 73 K, 4.19 ERA) for the Padres organization. The Pads have a deep farm system and were expected to lose players in the Rule 5 Draft this year due to the roster crunch. Word is the Cubs tried to trade for Megill prior to the deadline for the Rule 5 deadline last month, but ended up getting their man in the draft anyway. The Cubs have had success pulling Rowan Wick and Brad Wieck out of the Pads system over the past year. Here’s to hoping they find similar success with Megill.


Some more info: San Diego Union Tribune article, Baseball America scouting report

Lose UT Vimael Machin and RHP Michael Rucker

This is a bit of a tough pill to swallow considering the lack of depth the Cubs currently have at 2B and in the bullpen. These are two players the Cubs held back in AA for much of the season, despite repeating the level while having plenty of success, who other organizations have now deemed as potential full season MLB contributors. It isn’t a good look, especially considering the Cubs had plenty of roster space.

Vimael Machin (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Vimael Machin (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Machin is a steady influence in the field and at the plate. He doesn’t excel defensively at any spot on the diamond, but can man any of the four infield spots and even play some corner outfield if necessary. At the plate he will give you a hard fought at bat, showing off some of the best plate discipline and contact in the system as a left-handed hitter. He won’t offer much power, but he did get stronger this season and now boasts adequate gap power and is able to punch more hits through the infield.

I thought he might sneak through the draft given his limited upside, but he definitely has bench utility at the MLB level given his versatility. He was chosen by the Phillies, but then dealt to the A’s for cash. The 26th man on MLB rosters definitely opens up an avenue for a player like him.

The loss of Rucker is a blow as well. One of many college starters chosen by the Cubs in the 2015/16 drafts, he spent some time in relief early in his pro career but then took off when moved to the rotation in South Bend. His early trajectory was not unlike what we saw from Jack Patterson this year. After stalling out as a starter in Tennessee back in 2018, the Cubs moved him to the pen full time last season, and made him repeat the AA level.

Rucker had some bad luck early in the year which dragged down his overall numbers, but pitched well throughout the year. The stacked Iowa bullpen limited him to two appearances in AAA, but frankly I was upset they didn’t give him a bigger opportunity. Out of the pen, his fastball ranges from 92-95, but can touch higher, and it may be just a matter of comfort in the role allowing him to air it more frequently. His slider is a solid secondary, and he also has a show-me curve. It is his changeup that will be a key. It has flashed as an out pitch. If he locks that in he will have weapons against right and left-handed batters.

MiLB Phase

Cubs add RHP Brock Stewart, 1B (potential P convert) Jerrick Suiter, OF Vance Vizcaino, SS David Masters

I don’t have much information on these players as of now.

Stewart is a 28-year old who had some prospect buzz a couple years back and reached the Majors with the Dodgers and Blue Jays. He was shelled as a starter at the MLB and AAA levels last season, but I imagine the Cubs try him as a reliever with Iowa. Could factor in as an experienced depth piece.

Suiter appears to be a pitcher conversion candidate. He’s struggled mightily as a hitter the past two years, stalling in AA, but once boasted a power sinker as a high school player and was a two-way guy in college for a short time before transitioning to become a full-time position player.

Vizcaino and Masters finished last year as overage players in AA, but had some success. They figure to factor in as depth in Tennessee and Iowa. The Cubs currently don’t have much depth at those positions in the upper levels of their system.

Cubs lose LHP Faustino Carrera and IF Carlos Sepulveda

I was a little surprised the Cubs chose not to protect Carrera on their AAA reserve list. Limited upside as a starter, but he’s killed left-handed batters in his career, so there is some reliever upside. He’s also polished for a pitcher his age.

Comments

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  • I’m hoping these additions can out weigh the losses. Machin & Carrera are the 2 I’m more somewhat disappointed losing. But I thought it could have been worse, not too upset.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    These rarely amount to anything - not worried about what they lost or care about what they added

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Hector Rondon.

  • In reply to BudMan:

    Was thinking the same thing BudMan. He was a solid Rule 5 pickup.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Here's a list of rule-5 players.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_5_draft

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Marwin Gonzalez turned out decent. Josh Hamilton as a player was decent. He had personal issues, however. Hope his life turned out well.

    But, that’s nice that you don’t care. You do you.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    There are always exceptions to the rule plus the rules were different.
    Keep hoping to catch lightning in a bottle

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Sure... I’m hoping every rule 5er is a hall of famer... Guess you took that “you do you” comment literally.

  • Ugh. Machin's spot on the 40 taken by daniel desalso. I do not like this. He's the exact type of bat this team is trying to find. I really hope they have a plan.

  • Can we trade byrant and pickup a low price 3rd baseman

  • In reply to emartinezjr2000:

    Far from perfect, buts lots of options.
    Ian Happ, David Bote

    Free agents Travis Shaw, T. Frazier, M Franco, completely different kind of player J. Pereza

    Trades lots of options J.. Lamb, M. Andujar, & B. Anderson to name a few ok options.

  • In reply to emartinezjr2000:

    They could also trade for or sign a SS, slide Javy to 3rd. If they don’t go with Hoerner out of ST they’ll still need a back up short stop anyway. Please don’t say Bote as b/up short unless he’s worked on it all winter. And I have not seen his name in any winter league updates, so probably not.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    If you need a SS for more than a game or 2 you call him up from AAA

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Exactly. There isn't as much worry about the lack of an everyday backup at SS on the MLB roster this season, given that Hoerner and Short are both on the 40-man and can be called up at a moments notice if Baez suffers even a nagging injury that doesn't require IL stint. Bote can play it for a few innings or a game here or there if/when Baez rests.
    Last year was more of a problem because Russell was suspended early and they had no one available to turn to.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Context. He was talking about if they traded Bryant, who plays 3rd. They aren’t tied to just Bote/Happ. 1 option is to see if a better SS is out there on the market either trade or FA or ML ready in the return haul for Bryant, then slide Javy back to 3rd where he’s played before.

    And you can have Bote at short, not me. With a game on the line, that would be pretty stupid to be in that position in the 1st place. Especially with a 26 man roster. If they’re punting the year, then no, don’t have a backup SS. But the point will be moot because Hoerner will be opening day 2B with how the roster stands now.

  • In reply to emartinezjr2000:

    Why? Are you trying to tank?

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Are the Cubs really trying to win in 2020? They say they want to win, but also tons of talk about cutting payroll. Ownership talking about payroll, after $60 million of contracts just expired.

    If rumors are true-ownership doesn't think it is worth maintaining 2019 payroll in 2020 for the 3rd place Cubs.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    You won’t get an answer to that because Theo hasn’t told him yet... Theo ...supposedly... did tell him they don’t need a backup SS on the roster though. So maybe they aren’t trying to win in 2020, LoL!

  • In reply to emartinezjr2000:

    I mean, Bote is a low price 3rd baseman with a league average bat.

    Not sure you could get anyone cheap who would be an upgrade over him.

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    Do we know who they did and didn't protect on the AAA rosters? Losing Faustino looks bad and Machin too.

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    I think AZ Phil at TCR had a full list.

  • In reply to Jim Pedigo:

    https://www.thecubreporter.com/12122019/2019-mlb-rule-5-draft

  • AZ Phil always has a full list!

  • I forget who it was that posted this on Twitter, but with all the Cubs minor leaguers that were taken, it is clear that the Cubs farm system wasn’t as bad as the experts had been saying.

    Rucker is a tough one to lose, but as Michael put out his depth chart at all levels, there is plenty of optimism out there, especially on the mound, at all levels.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Farm system is still ranked towards the bottom of the league

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Cubs have depth in their system, just not a lot of high upside players.
    The farm rankings generally put a lot of weight into the high upside players. There aren't a lot of players in the Cubs system you would project as future stars, but they have a ton of the Rucker/Machin types who can factor into the back end of a roster. So many, in fact, that they obviously couldn't protect all of them.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Yep. I agree. They lost 4 total. None of their available catchers were plucked. The farm is worth what other GMs are willing to take in trades & how their own team can fill holes. A list or rank is just that. It’s more fodder for fans to have angst over or get excited about than anything else.

  • IF you're not moving KB and IF you're not moving Willy and IF you're trying to get under the threshold, then I hope they trade Quintana for a couple prospects and still have room for Shogo.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    They have room for Shogo now

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Do they? I'm just going by what mlbtraderumors is reporting, that they are currently over.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    LOL Thanks for clearing that up.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Yeah, lmao, WUNY is Theo’s pet kitty... Listens to all his phone calls. They have room for 26 men on the roster would have been a better answer. Ha ha!

  • If Bryant gets traded and the Cubs don’t get back a third baseman in return, which I doubt they will, I would keep Franco of the Phillies in mind. He would be cheap, he is still young with some pop and his defense is Bryant like. He is no Bryant offensively but as a stop gap they could do worse.

  • In reply to PhillyCubFan:

    Re: Philly,
    There are still rumblings about trading for Bryant and pairing him with Harper. A package centered around Alec Bohm and Adam Haseley is something the Cubs would consider.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    I did see that as well but Baseball America doesn’t like Bohm’s defense at third and believes he won’t continue there for any length of time in the majors. If that is the case then he would not be all that valuable to the Cubs. I don’t know where, other than possibly first base, that he would be able to play. I don’t know that the Phillies are a good match. I’m kind of hoping that if a trade occurs it’s with the Braves. Maybe Inciarte for CF and a Fried or one of their pitching prospects like Anderson or Wright.

  • I had a gut feeling Machin would get picked by someone.

    I always thought of him as the perfect 25/26th man for the Cubs who could play multiple positions and be a solid PH off the bench.

    Oh well.

  • How does someone like Rucker not get protected (based on his K/BB per 9 innings ratio) while Dillion Maples disturbing BB/9 rate gets protected?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Upside. If Maples ever does figure it out, he can get anyone out at the MLB level.
    Rucker likely maxes out as a 7th inning guy.

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    I would agree that we have a lot of average or slightly above average players in our system. The very highest ceiling players, to me, are Marquez, possibly Brennen Davis and Richard Gallardo. Others can play but are interchangeable. We need more impact players to be a realistic WS contender. None of the players I mentioned will help in 2020. Jensen is the one player who could help if he's in the bullpen.

  • fb_avatar

    Brandon Morrow just signed a minor league contract with the Cubs. This could be an under the radar signings that could impact the Cubs bullpen. When healthy he was very good and now he'll have over a year to recover. A good signing.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Dude is perpetually injured. He has been “ recuperating “ for two years. Stick a fork in him. He’ll be announcing his retirement before he ever sees a mlb mound again. Can’t see how you think this is a good signing. Smh.

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    In reply to Oldno7:

    it's a low cost signing. If he doesn't come back what's the downside? If he does, then maybe can be useful. I'd rather have him than some pitcher who has a history of mediocre pitching.

  • I think the reason Jonathan said it was a good signing is because it is a good signing. It is low risk high reward. It sounds as if you know more about Morrow's health than the Cubs doctors. Maybe you can share your thoughts on his health with us?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    This was in response to Oldno7 post.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    My thoughts on his health are that he has been on the dL for the last two years and collected over 20 million dollars for absolutely nothing! Also Jonathan can speak for himself, he doesn’t need your 2 cents butting in.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Oldno7:

    That was uncalled for. I can speak for myself, but it's nice to know that someone has my back or believes he (or she) knows what I mean. I appreciate it and if it's a mistaken understanding I am perfectly willing to state my position again. Thanks 2016 Cubs.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Mark prior is available too. He is low risk high reward too.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    You’re not really funny Oldno. And I’m not sure how you can’t see how this signing makes sense. If he never makes it back, as you seem to be convinced of and rooting for, the Cubs have lost nothing. He’s not even taking up a spot on the 40 man roster.
    If your wrong, and he can even be half the pitcher he was in 2017 and the first half of 2018, he will be a big help for the bullpen and team.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    I understand your perspective he’s a huge injury risk that’s been out for 2 years. But the cubs clearly aren’t gonna spend the money to add 2-3 expensive impact relievers on more lucrative deals. But unlike Prior this guy was just an impact level relief pitcher only just 2 years ago, and was a big part of the dodgers team that beat the cubs in the 2017 nlcs Just 3 years ago. I wouldn’t want to pay morrow big money but cmon man on a minor league deal this is an absolute no risk signing. It’s not like they’re gonna spend money on so many relievers, so it’s not like morrow is blocking anyone’s roster spot. They should be taking chances potential undervalued options like this with potential upside. You maybe right obviously morrow is probably another injury from retirement. But he’s reportedly passing up interested teams that likely would’ve offered better deals, because he feels bad for giving the cubs almost nothing for their 2 year investment. Would it really stun us all if the cubs carefully watched morrows workload, and he became a primary set up man for this team? If the guy wants to come here and accept a minor league deal, then I guess I’d ask you why wouldn’t you want his arm as an option on a zero risk deal?

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    No, he is not available. He just signed on with the Dodgers as their pitching coach.

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    The fact that Morrow signed a 2y/$23M deal with the Cubs and didn't produce is exactly the reason why he said he would only sign a minor-league deal with us, if we wanted him back, before exploring other options. If you follow the news, he has taken complete responsibility for his lack of results and signed this deal to try to make it right.

    He may have gotten more elsewhere. He chose to sign a minor-league deal with us which will only go to $1M, plus performance incentives, if he makes the team. I repeat, he could have gotten a guaranteed offer elsewhere for more money, but had the integrity to take this deal with the team he feels he let down.

    You can hate on players for having health problems. I don't. You can question the original signing, and that is legitimate. But this is a good-will gesture from a man with integrity to a franchise who believed in him. There is absolutely no downside to this transaction, and when you can't see this it reinforces beliefs about your baseball accumen.

    BTW, I just published a wrap-up of the winter meetings. Bah Humbug! (But you should read, it's up now).

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Lol. Can’t believe a player that contributed nothing to the cubs is so beloved. If he had so much integrity maybe he should just return the cash, but that will never happen. I choose to believe that morrow’s injury is too severe and will never pitch in mlb again. You choose to believe differently. To each his own.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Thanks for the insult too . It’s always refreshing to be insulted by the guy always policing the sight and calling out people for the same thing. Hypocrisy much?

  • In reply to Oldno7:

    My reply to you was not a personal insult, but questioning your understanding of this particular transaction. When you simply bash a player based on injuries beyond his control, yet can't see the potential benefits of this deal to the team, I will question your baseball knowledge. When I make irrational comments, which I have done, you can question mine. Differences of opinion on baseball value are totally fair game and, frankly, encouraged.

    We all know our past personal interactions go far beyond this point. I stand on my comments and reputation, and you have yours. I don't care to continue this discussion.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Everyone keep it civil, please.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    He must not haven gotten glowing reports since no team signed him to a major league deal.
    Odds are he doesn't help the Cubs in 2020

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    And how exactly do you know he wasn’t offered major league deals? I’ve heard he was offered more from other teams, but wanted to go back to the Cubs because of their belief in him over the past 2 years. And you’re right, odds are he won’t help, but if there’s any chance he can be the lights out pitcher he was in 2017 and the first half of 2018, it’d be crazy not to give him that chance. He’s not even taking up a 40 man roster spot.

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Odds are that only 1 team will win the 2020 World Series too, Captain O.

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