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Which Cubs player is most ‘designatable’?

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If the Cubs need to DFA a player to make room on the 40-man roster, who’s the most likely to go?

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

A few weeks back, the Cubs made a roster move, adding Luke Farrell to the parent club. My question for the day was, “Who should get the first roster purge?” effectively, if needed. The Cubs haven’t designated anyone recently, but it could happen at any point. With a barrage of roster moves recently, two things are rather clear. The 40-man roster is now full after the addition of Justin Hancock, and some people ought to have an idea who they have as the “weakest link.”

As with last time, this isn’t a question of “How much do you dislike Jason Heyward’s contract?” This is a bit of an analytical puzzle. By now, you’ve seen a handful of the possible players that might be in-line for Designation For Assignment.

The player that you would thing of as the 40th man on the 40-man is the guy you would be least upset seeing purged. As I’m much more of a “Why?” person than a “Who?” person, your reasoning behind your decision is important. As you decide which player you’d jettison first, your reasoning could be as simple as “a bad outing,” or as complex as Fangraphs PITCHf/x data.

I’m limiting the number of options. The main players aren’t about to get thwacked. Primary prospects aren’t being sent away. Mark Zagunis won’t be the guy. I’m giving you seven options. Of course, behind the scenes discussions are likely. It could be that someone nobody expects would get axed.

However, with this mental exercise, it’s more about prioritizing what you do know, rather than burning effort on what you don’t know. If, by July, you have a fairly good read on the situation, you’re better prepared for a roster move made then, to add a reliever for the stretch run.

The Options

Luke Farrell, RHP

Claimed on waivers from the Reds last October, Farrell had a nice stretch at the beginning of his Cubs run. However, he’s struggled mightily since. None of his first three Cubs appearances resulted in an earned run. All of his last three have, including two walk-off homers on successive nights.

Farrell isn’t as good as his first three outings, or as bad as his last three. A minor-league starter, he may or may not be a shuttle-able reliever the next few seasons. Farrell will have one option season remaining after the season concludes.

Justin Hancock, RHP

Added in the Matt Szczur trade, Hancock was a starter in the minors until injuries derailed that. Hancock was added to the 40-man roster for Wednesday’s game, and allowed two runs. His velocity isn’t the question, and he has been better than advertised in his year-plus in the Cubs system.

Choosing Hancock atop the list would be based rather heavily on a lack of familiarity. He doesn’t necessarily figure to be a leverage arm from the bullpen in the near future, but his return to Iowa, such as it happens, will be his first option event. The Cubs will retain his rights for two more seasons.

Randy Rosario, LHP

Rosario will have one option season remaining after this season. He’s also the only lefthanded pitcher on this list.

Cory Mazzoni, RHP

Mazzoni was pushed into action on Monday night, and it was a clean one-strikeout frame. Let go to the Dodgers in March, then re-claimed two days later, after being claimed from the Padres in November, Mazzoni is a valid choice to draw the short stick, his one outing notwithstanding.

Mazzoni will have an option season left after this one.

Shae Simmons, RHP

The most experienced of the available candidates, Simmons has pitched three different seasons in MLB. He’s walked eight in 8⅔ IP in Iowa, and none have been intentional. The case for Simmons being first out can be certainly made. As I’m writing the article before I make my list, I haven’t decided.

Alec Mills, RHP

A starter for the I-Cubs, he’s most valuable to the organization in that role. After all, if Mills is lost on waivers, a roster shuffle would be necessitated going through Des Moines. Added by trade for Donnie Dewees after Mills had been designated by the Royals, Mills started only seven games in the system in 2017. He’s started six already this season, and has a WHIP of 1.446 for the I-Cubs this season. He has an option season remaining next year.

Efren Navarro, 1B

The primary first baseman at Iowa, he was summoned when Anthony Rizzo was unavailable. Navarro, who turns 32 next week, will have no remaining option seasons remaining after 2018, and doesn’t figure to be a long-term piece.


Those are among the most likely to be designated if a player is needed for a roster spot in the near future. Perhaps a third catcher might be needed, or a player on waivers is considered too tempting to pass on.

Which players would you most likely give a heave-ho to? One of these seven? Maybe you’d sneak someone else into your top three. This is a topic that few rarely comment on, which is why it intrigues me so much.

One added reason to figure out who your “First Man Out” would likely be involves the waiver wire. Imagine your first man out is Farrell, because of the successive walk-off homers. As you look at players being designated, a very appropriate question might be, “Is this guy that’s reasonably available a better fit than Farrell?”

If he is, in your mind, you can progress from there. Is he worth a waiver claim? Is he “superior enough” to trade talent to get him? What sort of talent might be mutually acceptable to add the player? Or, if he isn’t better (in your mind) than the player that would be escorted away, is he even worth claiming?

My three most likely to be Designated?

My most likely is Navarro. He’s a heart of the order type for Iowa, but would likely clear waivers.

My second most likely is Mazzoni. He and the Dodgers seemed the most interested in him in the off-season. Hence, with the Dodgers’ disarray, he might slip through now.

My third and fourth are Simmons and Mills. I doubt either would get claimed, and I wouldn’t especially like the Cubs losing either one. As of today, Navarro or Mazzoni if a move is necessary.

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Who is your first DFA choice if the Cubs need to do it?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Luke Farrell
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    Justin Hancock
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Randy Rosario
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    Cory Mazzoni
    (17 votes)
  • 13%
    Shae Simmons
    (52 votes)
  • 0%
    Alec Mills
    (0 votes)
  • 63%
    Efren Navarro
    (238 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (9 votes)
373 votes total Vote Now