I’m going to begin this article as I did one earlier this week: First, let me tell you what this article is NOT about.
My purpose here is simply to note the contract status for next year for every player on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, plus four players on the 60-day injured list and one on the restricted list. In doing so, we will see the backbone of the 2020 Cubs, plus how many spots could be opened up on the 40-man roster as November begins. That will be important for determining who’s protected from the Rule 5 draft, among other things.
Here is the contract status of all 45 players as of now, October 3.
Adbert Alzolay: Under team control, pre-arb
Tony Barnette: Free agent after Cubs (presumably) decline his $3 million option
Xavier Cedeno: Free agent
Tyler Chatwood: Under contract for $13 million, free agent in 2021
Steve Cishek: Free agent
Yu Darvish: Under contract for $22 million, free agent after 2023
Kendall Graveman: Cubs have a $3 million team option
Cole Hamels: Free agent
Kyle Hendricks: Under contract for $12 million, free agent after 2023 unless Cubs pick up his 2024 option
Derek Holland: Cubs have a $7 million team option or $500,000 buyout
Danny Hultzen: Under team control, pre-arb
Craig Kimbrel: Under contract for $16 million, free agent after 2021 unless Cubs pick up his 2022 option
Brandon Kintzler: Free agent
Jon Lester: Under contract for $20 million, free agent after 2020 unless Cubs pick up his 2021 option
Dillon Maples: Under team control, pre-arb
Alec Mills: Under team control, pre-arb
Brandon Morrow: Free agent after Cubs (presumably) pay his $3 million buyout
James Norwood: Under team control, pre-arb
David Phelps: Free agent after Cubs (presumably) decline his $5 million option
Jose Quintana: Cubs have an $11.5 million option or a $1 million buyout
Kyle Ryan: First-year arbitration eligible
Justin Steele: Under team control, pre-arb
Pedro Strop: Free agent
Duane Underwood Jr.: Under team control, pre-arb
Allen Webster: Under team control, pre-arb
Rowan Wick: Under team control, pre-arb
Brad Wieck: Under team control, pre-arb
Victor Caratini: Under team control, pre-arb
Willson Contreras: First-year arbitration eligible
Jonathan Lucroy: Free agent
Javier Baez: Second-year arbitration eligible
David Bote: Under contract for $960,000, free agent after 2024
Kris Bryant: Third-year arbitration eligible
Daniel Descalso: Under contract for $2.5 million, has $1 million buyout for 2021
Robel Garcia: Under team control, pre-arb
Nico Hoerner: Under team control, pre-arb
Anthony Rizzo: Cubs have a $14.5 million team option which they will certainly exercise. They have another identical option for 2021. He’s a free agent after that
Addison Russell: Third-year arbitration eligible
Albert Almora Jr.: First-year arbitration eligible
Nicholas Castellanos: Free agent
Ian Happ: First-year arbitration eligible
Jason Heyward: Under contract for $21 million, free agent after 2023
Tony Kemp: Under team control, pre-arb
Kyle Schwarber: Second-year arbitration eligible
Ben Zobrist: Free agent
As noted above, that’s 45 total players. Five of them are not currently on the 40-man roster: Barnette, Cedeno, Graveman, Morrow and Webster. Honestly, I do not expect any of these players back in 2020, with the possible exception of Graveman. In his case, I would guess the Cubs will offer him a minor-league deal and a chance to compete for a roster spot in spring training. There’s no need to use a 40-man spot on him at this time.
Seven players currently on the 40-man roster have no contract obligations with the Cubs after 2019, so that will immediately reduce the 40-man roster to 33 when free agency begins. Two others on the 40-man (Phelps, Holland) have buyouts that will almost certainly be paid, which would reduce the 40-man to 31 players if they so choose. This will leave plenty of space for adding players the team wants to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, as well as leave room for signings and trades. There are, in fact, enough players the Cubs could DFA and outright to the minor leagues that the Cubs could probably get the 40-man under 30 players if they really wanted to.
And they might want to. Theo Epstein, in his season-ending news conference, said that tough decisions will likely be made. One of those tough decisions will be regarding Jose Quintana. Personally, I think his option will be picked up and he might be traded. I have gone on record multiple times as saying the Cubs should just pay Daniel Descalso the $3.5 million they owe him past 2019 and let him go. Lastly, it would seem to me that Addison Russell might be a non-tender candidate, or even designated for assignment, which would open up another 40-man spot.
Feel free to discuss various contract/payroll choices the Cubs have; I will delve deeper into payroll discussion after the World Series. This will give you a good start on 2020.