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Cubs decline options on Brandon Morrow, David Phelps, Kendall Graveman

None of these should surprise you.

Remember this guy? This photo is from the last time he pitched in a game. Any game
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Lost in the news of Anthony Rizzo’s 2020 option being picked up Sunday was this news about other Cubs contract options:

The Cubs also declined options on right-handers Brandon Morrow, Tony Barnette and Kendall Graveman, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. Morrow’s option was for $12 million, and he will receive a $3 million buyout. Barnett and Graveman both had options for $3 million. The Associated Press earlier reported news on the declined options.

A source told ESPN on Monday that the Cubs have also declined the option on reliever David Phelps, who would have been paid $5 million based on making more than 40 appearances in 2019.

The Tony Barnette signing was a waste, in my opinion. He was 35, coming off one decent year of 22 appearances for the Rangers, and the chances that he would make any significant contributions to the bullpen were very small. Then he wound up on the restricted list in July when he didn’t report to Triple-A Iowa after he was optioned.

I make a point of that because I hope, going forward, the Cubs won’t waste time signing guys like this (or Xavier Cedeno, who was also mostly useless for the Cubs).

Graveman cost the Cubs just the minimum salary while spending the entire season on the injured list, but:

That is a reasonable idea, perhaps a small base with incentives, or a minor-league deal he can opt out of if not on the 25-man roster by a certain date. Graveman did have a couple of decent seasons in the Athletics rotation and he will be 29 next season.

Phelps’ situation is interesting. His contract called for a $3 million option if he appeared in from 30 to 39 games, but it jumped to $5 million after he finished the season with 41 appearances. At $3 million the Cubs might have kept him. His last two appearances were September 25 and 28, after the Cubs had been more or less eliminated.

It’s a shame Brandon Morrow couldn’t stay healthy. His half-season as a Cub was dominant. At this point I think the Cubs will move on.

That wraps up all the Cubs’ option decisions. The 40-man roster currently stands at 31. That will increase to 32 if Allen Webster is activated from the 60-day injured list to the 40-man. Frankly, they might as well let him go, too. He turns 30 in February and I’m pretty sure the Cubs could find a younger guy somewhere who can do what Webster does.

There’s one last decision the Cubs need to make today, and that’s whether to make Cole Hamels a qualifying offer. This year’s QO is $17.8 million. Some observers think they won’t do it, but if I were Theo, I think I would. He might accept it, in which case the Cubs have a decent mid-range starter for a not-unreasonable salary. If he doesn’t, the Cubs get a draft pick.

We should know for sure by the end of the day.


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