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The Cubs should claim Zach Jemiola on waivers

Here’s a chance to boost the bullpen.

Zach Jemiola, in hiding
Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Last week, I noted the “Reverse 40 Man Roster,” where the reader was encouraged to determine which of the Cubs on “The 40” were most discardable. One of the reasons this concept shouldn’t be too far from your mindset is that the last player on the 40-man should be the benchmark on new additions. With that in mind, the Cubs should place a claim on Colorado Rockies pitcher Zach Jemiola.

Jemiola is in the fringe of Designated For Assignment candidates.

Most have a lengthy batch of statistics associated with their efforts. Which are usually rather suspect at the MLB level. Jemiola hasn’t played in a MLB game.

A ninth-round 2012 draft selection from Great Oak High School in Temecula, California, Jemiola has never had breakout numbers. However, he kept moving up through the Rockies system, which often lands him in hitter-friendly locales.

His 2017 was a bit unsightly. He scuffled as (mostly) a starter in Triple-A last season. That said, pitching in Albuquerque isn’t conducive to posting good pitching numbers.

Jemiola also pitched in Boise (Northwest League, and a Eugene Emeralds rival) with limited success. The intrigue is that he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. He was added to the Rockies 40-man off of some shine in 2016, and was better in the league in 2017 than 2016.


For many, that won’t be enough upside to turn on the green light.

Which is exactly the point.

When placing a claim on a DFA option, a team is looking to upgrade the organization at a low-end price, usually. The “opportunity cost” is usually “who has to be designated to create a spot.”

For instance, if the Cubs were required to surrender recent bullpen success Luke Farrell to add Jemiola, that would serve as a disincentive. However, the Cubs have an empty 40-man spot as of this morning. As of now, Jemiola would look a rather cheap addition.


Three options exist with a waiver wire player.

The most standard is “Naaaaaaah, we’re good.” This is especially applicable if the player has a long history of MLB failure, or needs to be placed on the 25-man roster to retain him. With Jemiola, neither apply.

The second case is the current one. Place a claim. Hope it gets accepted.

The third option? Attempt to trade actual talent to add him. I don’t see enough smoke to recommend that level of roster aggression. The Cubs have displayed that degree of motivation twice recently, trading James Farris and IFA money to obtain Eddie Butler, and flipping Donnie Dewees for Alec Mills. Both Mills and Butler had been DFAd.


I doubt the Cubs post a claim on Jemiola. The Rockies have him in hiding, which seems to be the latest in the minor league roster shell game. Teams are tending to send healthy and qualified players to base camp, instead of placing them with full-season affiliates.

For instance, Kyle Ryan.

Quite successful as a reliever for the Cubs this spring in Mesa, he hasn’t faced a batter for Iowa, Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, or South Bend. He’s perfectly usable. The Cubs aren’t using him. For roster limit reasons.

Jemiola looks to be in the same scenario. I’m not hearing anything about any injury. Our SB Nation Rockies site Purple Row seemed uncertain as to why he isn’t listed anywhere.

And, he’s now available. Possibly for a roster claim.


Adding Jemiola likely wouldn’t be the major move that the “Trade For Chris Archer” subset wants. In reality, if the Cubs do claim Jemiola, I wouldn’t object at all to him being instantly run through waivers, again.

When playing the waiver wire game, you’re hoping to add talent that, like Butler, might be useful “later.” Which isn’t necessarily the preferred time frame for many.

However, how did the Padres acquire Brad Hand? On waivers.

The Dodgers churn through players on waivers like people change socks.

Adding talent on waivers isn’t dismissive. It’s a tool. A team that is skilled at adding player talent for “almost nothing” gets the benefits of both having new talent, and not giving up much value in return.

The major downside on adding a Jemiola type on waivers is if you lose something of value in the transaction. Nobody in the Cubs system would be lost by adding Jemiola.

As for the player, his “moving costs” would be taking his possessions in the Phoenix area from Talking Stick to the Sloan Park site.

I figure Jemiola is worth the risk. Especially with the risk not involving any talent leaving the system.

Think for yourself. Ask questions. Be nice to others.