As I was catching up on sleep on Saturday, I missed Dallas Beeler's start. It sounds like he represented himself, and the system, rather well. He probably justified his 40-man roster slot, though future starts will tell that tale more completely. This article is going to touch on names to remember for the off-season, and who might merit a call-up in September. Also, these players may be a tamping factor on who does get called up in September. A fact I constantly harp on is this: The day before camp opens in 2015, 40 is 40.
For each "kid" that gets called up (think Javier Baez and Kris Bryant), that is one less veteran that gets a spot in the flurry to add veterans to 40-man spots in January. And before you roll your eyes and trot out the "just DFA Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, we'll be fine" thing, remember that... awwwww, just read the article.
As usual, I give AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter props when I go here, as he does such an exemplary job of tracking the 40-man, options, and arcane league rules, so the rest of us don't have to. It's kind of like Yagyu's draft coverage. It's a bit like a Cubs fan enjoying Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, or Frank Thomas. When someone at another site so owns a part of Cubdom, we can appreciate their efforts, and use our brains and creativity for other ventures. Every once in awhile, I check who might be deserving a 40-man spot, and adjust my ideas. Thank you much, Phil.
Here is his Rule 5 eligibility list. Since only 40 can be kept on the 40-man going into camp, now is a decent time to remind ourselves who will be taking spots this off-season. And, who, perhaps should be. While there are few guarantees in baseball, it is pretty much a guarantee that somebody would be more than happy to claim some of our well-developed talent for the low fee of $50,000. While most Rule 5 selections get returned, properly valuing talent in the pipeline is 'a thing'. As the Cubs have a highly-ranked system, that will likely get higher ranked in the off-season, plucking some of our talent might be a goal. Not just by the cellar-dweller type teams either.
These are some guys that may well be on someone's 40-man roster, sooner than later.
Gioskar Amaya, second baseman, High-A Daytona. This might be a bit of a reach, but Amaya can hit. His defense is a bit inconsistent, and he really doesn't profile as much of a utility type. If a team thinks he can hit well enough, he might merit a gamble in December. This is an indicator that, with a good system, you can't protect everybody.
Hunter Cervenka, lefthanded reliever, Double-A Tennessee. Cervenka has progressed quite well through the system since being the PTBNL in the Marlon Byrd trade. If Cervenka finishes well in the Southern League, he will be on a 40-man roster for the new year. He is an intriguing lefty arm in the bullpen, and as many teams would like to add that second arm in the pen at a low rate for six years of team control, Cervenka is a screaming buy if he finishes strong. The Cubs can add him in the off-season, or they can watch him pitch for someone else in spring training.
Willson Contreras, catcher, Daytona. Contreras started the season ice cold, but has gotten better with the weather. He is a two-way catcher, and would probably be hidden on a roster if added. That said, if a team likes him enough to try, it would be a jab to the Cubs catching depth, which had been a system weak spot. Catcher isn't a strength yet, but it would be nice to keep Contreras off of the 40-man for 12 more months. I don't see the Cubs adding him.
C.J. Edwards, righthanded pitcher, Tennessee. Edwards has had an injury-plagued year. Nonetheless, he will be rostered for the December draft. He won't be ready for Wrigley until next August, if then. However, it would be foolish to let a pitcher this highly rated go elsewhere for a $50,000 fee.
Kyle Hendricks, righthanded pitcher, Triple-A Iowa. The team's worst-kept secret is that Hendricks will be added to the roster late in the season. That Beeler pitched so well is a sign that Hendricks arrival could more-easily be delayed until late-August. Beeler, Tsuyoshi Wada, and (perhaps) Chris Rusin could get the July/mid-August calls, thereby saving Hendricks' first return to Iowa until 2015.
Marco Hernandez, shortstop, Daytona. If I had done this list as recently as a week ago, I would have left Hernandez off. He was recently bumped to leading off in Daytona, and has taken well to it. He is a good defender, though his error numbers are rather high. It happens in the minor leagues. Hernandez was on the list of potentials last year. If not protected this off-season, he will likely be selected by a team wanting a shortstop in their future.
Rafael Lopez, catcher, Iowa. Lopez has, generally, played better the further up the ladder he goes. Before Lopez arrived, the pitching was doing very well. With Lopez as the top catcher in Iowa, the pitching has stayed effective. His current OPS is only .690, but the Cubs will likely have two rostered catchers over the off-season, it might be better keeping Lopez, and non-tendering the other reserves. That way, they don't lose Lopez in December.
Andrew McKirahan, lefthanded reliever, Tennessee. McKirahan has fought through some injuries to climb the ladder. He is a recent add to Tennessee's roster, and represents a reasonable addition for a team looking for a bullpen lefty, much like Cervenka. If he does well in the Southern League, he will be on a 40-man roster by, or before, December.
Ivan Pineyro, righthanded pitcher, Tennessee. Despite the injuries he's had this year, somebody might take a $50,000 risk on Pineyro this winter, given the chance. I doubt the Cubs leave him exposed, especially if he has a decent last couple months. I'm not sure how his rehab is progressing.
Rubi Silva, outfielder, Tennessee. Probably not, but he merits a mention. He probably profiles as a spare part OF with some pinch hitting ability. He tends to be "on a hot streak" or "on a cold streak" a bit too often. I think he will be left unprotected.
Dae-Eun Rhee, righthanded pitcher, Tennessee. Rhee can declare himself a free-agent this off-season should he want. He has been in the Cubs system six years, and that is the maximum a team has a player's rights. However, as he has been very good at Tennessee this season, he figures to get a bump to Iowa when Wada/Beeler/Rusin/Hendricks get called up. If Rhee responds well in Iowa, he would certainly get interest from other teams. The easiest way to stop him from declaring himself a free agent? Add him to the 40-man.
Not all of these players will, or should, be rostered before the November deadline. That said, some of them will, and others will be difficult coin flip options. As people call for Bryant to get called up, and thus added to the roster, remember that actions have consequences. I'm not saying that adding Bryant around August 1 would be foolish. What I am saying is that calling up anyone without a compelling reason is a shot that the team might lose someone from a suddenly very deep farm system.
That, or miss out on a veteran free agent in January.
Depth is nice, but with depth comes some tough decisions.