Today is the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft and the Cubs added four players: catcher Victor Caratini, outfielder Jacob Hannemann, left-handed pitcher Jack Leathersich and right-handed pitcher Duane Underwood Jr. Additionally, the Cubs claimed LHP David Rollins off of waivers from the Mariners.
I went over the Cubs Rule 5-eligible players in a piece yesterday and I noted that Caratini and Leathersich were close to locks to be added and Underwood was likely as well, although I questioned whether he should have been. The only mild surprise here is Hannemann: a talented athlete with strong skills, but one who is older and who hasn’t impressed much in Double-A Tennessee the past two seasons.
This decision leaves a few tantalizing prospects, including pitchers Jose Paulino, Armando Rivero and Ryan McNeil, available in the Rule 5 draft. Instead of protecting one of those pitchers, the Cubs claimed Rollins off of waivers from the Mariners. Rollins was a 24th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2011 and was traded to Astros in 2012 as part of a deal for J.A. Happ. The Mariners took him in the Rule 5 draft in 2014 and he struggled out of the M’s pen that year, posting a 7.56 ERA in 20 appearances. He pitched much better for Triple-A Tacoma this past season, but struggled again in the majors by giving up eight runs in 9⅓ innings. When Hollins is on, he appears to be a sinkerball pitcher with good control who induces a lot of ground balls and few walks. When he’s off, he gets the ball up in the zone and gives up a lot of home runs.
This brings the Cubs 40-man roster to 39, which give the Cubs room to add one more player before now and the Rule 5 draft.
The Rule 5 draft will take place on December 8, the last day of the Winter Meetings. Any player taken in the Rule 5 draft must stay on the major league roster for an entire season (and not be on the disabled list for at least 90 days) or be offered back to the original team.
To the players selected to the 40-man roster, congratulations!
One final note, the Mesa Solar Sox won their division of the Arizona Fall League and will play in the Championship Game tomorrow at 2:08 p.m CT against the Surprise Saguaros. The game is televised by the MLB Network and will stream for free on MLB.com. The Cubs top two prospects, Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ, are both in the starting lineup. Happ is playing left field and batting third while Jimenez is the DH and batting seventh. So here’s your chance to see the Cubs of tomorrow today. There will be a game thread for this game posting at 1:30 p.m. CT.
In an additional neat moment, the Cubs share the Solar Sox roster with four other teams, one of which is the Cleveland Indians. So top Indians prospects like Bradley Zimmer will be working side-by-side with Cubs prospects to win a title together, instead of on opposite sides of the fence. (The other three teams are the Athletics, Blue Jays and Marlins.)
So let’s cheer on the Cubs to win their fourth title of 2016? Or would it be their third and one-fifths title?