With 11 days left in the trading deadline, the Cubs had yet to make a serious move until last night when it called up reliever Rafael Soriano from Iowa and designated pitcher Edwin Jackson for assignment. Previously, the only acquisition the Cubs made was picking up pitcher Clayton Richard for cash considerations from the Pirates. In addition, the Cubs brought up catcher Kyle Schwarber to be important bat in the coming weeks while Miguel Montero recovers from a thumb injury. It is thought to the Cubs are looking for one more starting pitcher and another bat preferably for the outfield. Also keep in mind that one Javy Baez still has not started playing games as he starts his rehab.
To acquire any assets, the Cubs need to look no further than their own minor-league system. In December, the Rule 5 draft will be held as usual. The problem for the Cubs is they have 79 players that are eligible for consideration. In order to avoid having a player picked up in the Rule 5 draft, the Cubs will have to place certain players that they value for the long term on the 40 man roster. By my estimation that will be somewhere between 3 to 6 players who could be added to the 40 man roster.
The Cubs could do either one of three things in the coming months.
- They could assign the player to the 40 man roster. This would protect the player and protect the Cubs long term investment.
- The Cubs could let the player go in hopes that no one would pick them in the Rule 5 draft and hope to re-sign them next year to another minor-league contract.
- They could actually trade them here in the next two weeks and get something for them. This is an alternative to losing them for nothing in the Rule 5 draft.
I divided the 79 players into three categories. The first category are players that the Cubs will take a risk in losing them. The second category, are players that the Cubs think that won’t get picked for a variety of minor reasons. If a team picked anyone from this list, it would be a huge risk to place them on their 25 man roster. The third category consists of players I think the Cubs will/should protect.
Don’t think that I am saying these are the only players the Cubs could trade. I am saying that their status as Rule 5 players might make a few of them trade bait. With seven of these names in MLB.com’s Top 30 Cub Prospects, their names will draw interest in the next two weeks and in the Rule 5 Draft.
- Take a Risk Losing Them
John Andreoli, Stephen Bruno, Jeimer Candelario, Blake Cooper, Michael Heesch, Jonathan Martinez, Steve Perakslis, Bijan Rademacher, Daury Torrez, Frank Batista, Felix Pena, Carlos Pimentel, Ivan Pineyro, Rubi Silva, Logan Watkins
There’s some value here. Silva, Rademacher, and Andreoli might make a nice fourth or fifth outfielders. Bruno could be a nice utility player, albeit in a couple of years. Perakslis throws 95. Watkins, when healthy, could make a nice utility player. Daury Torrez and many others in this list could be two pitch pitchers out of a bullpen. Problem is none of the arms, aside from Cooper, are quite ready. Jeimer Candelario has a lot of value but he hasn’t played above high A yet. They will all likely be back in the Cubs system next year. I think the Cubs just take their chances with this group.
- Likely Not to Be Picked in Rule 5
Gioskar Amaya, Jeffrey Baez, David Bote, Matt Brazis, Erick Castillo, Zach Cates, Gerardo Concepcion, Josh Conway, Varonex Cuevas, Andin Diaz, Shawon Dunston Jr., Kevin Encarnacion, Danny Lockhart, Barret Loux, Mark Malave, Dillon Maples, Ricardo Marcano, Pedro Araujo, Ben Carhart, Trey Martin, Trey McNutt, Alberto Mineo, Juan Carlos Paniagua, Carlos Penalver, Chris Pieters, James Pugliese, Jasvir Rakkar, Elliot Soto, Jacob Rogers. Alexander Santana, Tayler Scott, Jeffry Antigua, Daniel Bard, Fernando Cruz, Wes Darvill, Jae-Hoon Ha, Starling Peralta, Jose Rosario, Andres Santiago, Francisco Carrillo, Anthony Giansanti, Taylor Davis, Justin Marra, Yomar Morel, Yoanner Negrin, Ariel Ovando, Jose Paulino, Austin Reed, Drake Britton, Luke Carlin, Marcelo Carreno, Adron Chambers, Pin-Chieh Chen, Ryan Dent, Joe Ortiz, Blake Parker, Felipe Paulino, and Chris Valaika.
Most prospects on this list are either too young, too inexperienced, too old, too injured, or too far down in the system to risk selecting as a pick.
- Place on the 40 man this fall
Definitely: Dan Vogelbach, Pierce Johnson, and Willson Contreras
If Vogelbach and Contreras don’t get traded in the next two weeks, someone would definitely pick them in the Rule 5 draft. Vogelbach still has value as a trade prospect and as a hitter to the Cubs should the NL adopt the DH rule this winter for use in 2017. Contreras has good skills as a catcher and is having a career year in Tennessee.
As for Johnson, he is the starting pitcher most likely to succeed the quickest in the Cubs system. His only drawback is he is susceptible to injuries (thankfully not his shoulder or elbow). He could be in Iowa next month and in Chicago down the stretch. He is very close to helping out the big league club.
Maybe: P. J. Francescon, Michael Jensen, Corey Black
When the Marlins selected reliever Andrew McKirahan last winter, it stunned many in the Cubs organization. The brass did not think anyone would take the young lefty who had barely sniffed AA Tennessee in 2014. As a result, the Cubs are on the lookout for relievers who could get snagged in a similar fashion. Francescon and Jensen have been lights out at Tennessee this year and should draw consideration for the 40 man roster.
Corey Black is in the same boat. If the Cubs left him unprotected, some team will take the chance on his mid 90s fastball coming out of the pen. I think it is more than likely he gets protected. However, that is not a vote of confidence as Black has struggled in 2015 converting to a reliever. His days of being a starting pitcher, as a Cub, are likely over. As a result, he could be exposed.
Trade Bait This Summer
Jeimer Candelario, Dan Vogelbach, and Willson Contreras – they have the highest current value.
I think out of all the prospects the Cubs have that it is Jeimer Candelario who could be of most use this summer. Blocked by Bryant at 3B, Jeimer is still young, a switch hitter, and has some developing power. His second go around at high A is turning out well.
On the other hand, I don’t think there is any way the Cubs place Jeimer on the 40 man. It would be 2-3 years before he is ready. However, if he is left off, I don’t think anyone snaps him to place on their 25 man roster for the same reason this year. Next year could be a different story depending on how he progresses in 2016.
If the Cubs do make a trade, Candelario would be one top prospect I would ask for as a GM. And I think the Cubs would let me have him. They are not giving up Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez or any other of their top ten prospects. Jeimer is the man this summer and he might be the big draw with a low A pitcher to get that 5th starter or extra outfielder.
Personally, I don’t think Vogelbach is that attractive of a piece to NL teams because he is a risk in the field. To AL teams, he is much more attractive as a DH. I think many Cub fans have a distorted view of his trade value. Yes, he is a good asset. Vogelbach is a nice hitting prospect with power potential who happens to be a great kid with great makeup. He is not in the same tier as some of the other Cub prospects. I actually don’t think the Cubs will trade him. He is more than likely going to hang around one to two more years.
As for Contreras, I could see a team snapping him up and keeping him in the Rule 5 draft. He could be a backup catcher tomorrow in the majors. His hit tool has been a mega-surprise this year. He has never hit above .273 in the states before this year. He’s having a career year and the Cubs could capitalize on that aspect.
In the end, who the Cubs trade in the next two weeks might be based on who they could control in the next few years. Players that make it through the Rule 5 draft and are not selected are eligible again for the 2016 Rule 5 draft unless they get placed on the forty man roster. It will be interesting to see if one, or all three, of these players becomes the centerpiece of a trade during the next two weeks.