Late Night Rule 5 Thoughts (UPDATED)

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The Cubs are coming up to the MLB reserve list deadline (as are all the other teams in MLB), so it’s time to make a few decisions regarding who needs to be protected in advance of the Rule 5 draft.  The timeline of events goes something like this:

  • November 20 – reserve lists filed for all MLB and minor league squads
  • December 2 – non-tender deadline
  • December 12 – Rule 5 draft

By 11/20, the Cubs have to protect the players they absolutely do NOT want to be plucked away in the Rule 5 draft.  The Cub Reporter has an excellent resource for this purpose.  It is almost a foregone conclusion by about 99.999% of Cubs blogs that Arismendy Alcantara will be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from Rule 5 draft.  Dabynsky had previously explored the idea of protecting a guy like Dallas Beeler, but ultimately the Cubs may leave that up to the baseball gods.  And so it shall be with many of the 58 Rule 5 eligible players (minus Alcantara).

At present, the Cubs have 37 spots filled on the 40-man roster.  I’ve been kicking around the idea of designating some guys for assignment who have fallen off a cliff recently, like Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters (though Vitters is still young), and possibly Daniel Bard, who apparently is allergic to throwing strikes anymore.  There’s also the matter of Darwin Barney being a potential non-tender candidate despite being a Gold Glove guy (who can’t hit for shit, so yeah), but this is so far in advance of the non-tender deadline that it doesn’t make sense, plus the Cubs aren’t just going to let him go anyway since he can refuse an outright assignment.  It’s probably not likely, but I’d gamble that nobody is going to keep Jackson or Vitters on an active roster for the whole season just to be a stump.  Adding Alcantara would put the Cubs at 36 on the 40-man roster, giving them some room to select a few random guys to stash for later.  The Cubs can then designate some other guys for assignment after Rule 5 if they wanted to make room for free agent signings, but that’s complicated and messy.

Those extra spots could also be used to protect a few interesting pitchers, especially those that can be taken in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.  As TCR says:

There is no such “right of return” for players selected in the AAA and AA phases of the Rule 5 Draft, so if a player is selected in the AAA or AA Phase, he is gone.

So I am somewhat interested in ensuring that certain prospects such as Eric Jokisch and Matt Loosen don’t get snatched up by some other team.  I don’t know if anyone wants Trey McNutt anymore, so the Cubs might continue to gamble that nobody will take him.  Many of the others on the list are probably too far away from the majors to be selected in Rule 5, and it’s difficult to imagine teams banking on Jokisch and Loosen being major league ready even with their skillsets.

As for whom the Cubs might actually select…there isn’t a ready list of all Rule 5 eligible players from all clubs out there, and I’m too lazy to look up all 29 other teams.  I assume much closer to December we’ll see someone compile a list.  I also imagine that whomever the Cubs select will be a pitcher with some interesting stuff, a la Hector Rondon (and not so much Lendy Castillo).  But that really depends on whether the Cubs decide to sign free agents, as they most likely need space for a backup catcher and a couple starting pitchers to fill out the rotation.

The complexity of roster decisions makes me glad that someone else is GMing this thing.

UPDATE 11/20 5:08 PM: Guess we got our answer!


About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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