The Cubs did make their transactions prior to the nontender deadline, and the 40-man roster is at 37 for the moment:
As we said in prior posts and in the latest Dreamcast, there were some very obvious nontender candidates, and it wasn’t too surprising to see the three names on the announcement. As stated in Bastian’s rundown, Vizcaíno was on the restricted list and probably hates baseball now so we will see if the Cubs actually try to keep him on a cheap deal or let him go. Ortega at this point, if the Cubs know what’s good for them, is extraneous at best if they find some money in the couch cushions and actually upgrade the team. Brailyn Marquez has been broken for a while which is very unfortunate given the potential. I did forget that most of the other names who weren’t on the announcement were automatic renewal players, so there was no reason at this time for the Cubs to just let them go just yet. The Winter Meetings are during the first full week of December so barring some surprises, we likely won’t see any major deals until then, with certain names we’ve mentioned before expendable to fit the new signings on the roster. There is also time to potentially pass some guys through waivers and outright them off the roster to grab some extra space before the Rule 5 Draft, just in case.
Bubble Guys to Toss For More Space (If Needed)
I think of the remaining players, these are the ones that would be taken off the roster for upgrades but only when it comes necessary at this point:
- Mark Leiter Jr
- Manuel Rodriguez
- Zach McKinstry (now that they have the redundant guys that were claimed/traded for)
- Alfonso Rivas
Keeping in mind I’m pretty sure they can’t throw a guy onto the 60-day injured list until just before Opening Day, so the rest that I haven’t mentioned probably have to be outrighted.
Nontendered Players of Interest From Around the League
From the NL list:
- Jeff Hoffman – a former first round pick, he was actually DFA earlier so this isn’t a non-tender, just means he is potentially available; he was ok for the Reds this past season and could be an interesting bullpen pickup for the Pitch Lab
- Jackson Stephens – nontendered by Atlanta, he’s a bit older but for whatever reason I just thought he did fairly well and so this was a tad surprising but I guess they needed the space
- Jorge Alfaro – could probably use catching depth that isn’t PJ Higgins
- Garrett Hampson – he can’t hit for shit, but the dude is fast and if rosters are limited to 13 position players, maybe have a guy who can back up the infield positions as well as steal a base or two?
- Dominic Smith – he almost got some Brian Roberts level hype from certain corners of the Cubs blogosphere but he’s probably redundant given all the outfielders already locked into the roster, but he is a lefty bat with some power, at least once upon a time…
- Cody Bellinger – this is the one everyone seems to be salivating over, we all know he’s a former MVP with lots of power if he ever figures out how to make contact again, plus he can play center field more than adequately, plus the lefty bat, so there’s a fit there if the Cubs somehow outbid every other team for a guy who the Dodgers didn’t want to pay
From the AL list:
- Adam Engel – the former White Sox is considered a good defensive player so might work as a glove first guy on the bench, but that really depends on how many upgrades the Cubs get otherwise
- Ryan Yarbrough – kind of meh for the Rays before they nontendered him this season, but he’s a lefty and maybe Pitch Lab can fix him?
Rule 5 Draft Preview
We saw the Cubs protect four of their top prospects in the previous check-in, but like most of MLB, they couldn’t protect everyone. The MLB.com article does a good job tallying up who was protected and who was left exposed, and there are a lot of names on the lists I simply do not know. Obviously they have at least three spots to play with, so if you guys want to take a crack at who to prioritize, that might be fun. Probably means I have to learn these prospects better whenever I have more time again.