The Cubs are in a four-way taffy pull contest over three players regarding the Rule 5 Draft. As I enjoy coin-phrasing and idea-invention, I've come up with a method for assessing progress, or lack thereof, regarding the players in question. To remain where they are now, they’d need to remain on the 26-man roster for the entire season. How likely is that for each? Here is my look at Vimael Machin, Trevor Megill, and Michael Rucker.
Megill, drafted from the Padres, is in Cubs camp. Machin is in Athletics camp, and Rucker is in Orioles camp. My recent idea is to assess Rule 5 types on a numeric scale. A player above 90 is in good shape to stick. Players below 90 still need to upgrade. That they need to remain above 90 the entire season is required, and that the rosters are down to 28 in September doesn’t help. Your assessments and criticisms are expected. The goal is to have a starting point from which to adjust.
Megill is the most important consideration from a Cubs perspective, and is the easiest of the three to regularly check on. His first outing saw two wild pitches lead to an earned run. In his second outing, the frame was clean. Through two innings of work, Megill has three strikeouts, a walk, and a run scored. Arizona Phil from The Cub Reporter had him clocked at 95-97 in his second inning. Is that, in and of itself, worth enough to keep him around? I say no, but he’s at 70 on my scale with about three weeks and change to decide. (My expectation is to move players up or down by no more than a nickel each outing.)
Megill is scheduled to throw again in Sunday's game, so you can track his progress.
In the other Cactus League situation, the A’s have Marcus Semien at short, Matt Chapman at third, and a rather unseemly mess at second. (Remind you of anything?) Tony Kemp (added in a swap with the Cubs for prospect first baseman Alfonso Rivas) is among the options, there. I doubt anyone takes the spot unanimously. Machin is a versatile infielder that might play in with a potpourri that includes Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, and prospect Sheldon Neuse. In Wednesday’s blowout A’s win, Machin had two hits off the bench to jump his average for the season to a 4-for-12 with a double. The Cubs’ 2015 10th-round choice from Virginia Commonwealth sits at a 75, needing continued success to remain in contention for a spot.
The Orioles are in rebuilding mode. As such, assessing Rucker is more difficult. He’s tossed twice, and his first time out saw him toss an inning, surrendering a hit and a wild pitch. A two-inning outing on Thursday saw him log two more innings, allowing a couple of hits, and a walk. The 2016 11th-rounder from Brigham Young has another Rule 5 arm to jockey with in Orioles camp. I’d put Rucker in the 70 range, along with Megill, with at least three more outings likely in rapid order.
The big picture doesn’t boil simply to “stick or waive.” While there’s an assumption that the Rule 5 guy won’t be added by another team, If anyone impresses enough, the entire range of possibilities need to be discussed. If bounced from the 26-man spot, the player goes through waivers, with or without a DFA stint. Upon being run through waivers, if he gets claimed, the next verse is quite similar to the current verse. Stay or waive.
If the player clears waivers, the team that lost him in December has the option of a) buy him back for $50,000, with him assigned to minor league camp, b) option to keep him refused and he stays where he is, off the 40, or c) execute a trade between the teams.
If Machin or Rucker are made available, I’d imagine the Cubs would toss the $50,000 to get either back. (Signing bonuses aren’t any sort of indicator of “value to a team.”) Machin would fit in quite well in Des Moines, and Rucker would be a likely swing-arm between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. If Megill is offered back, it’s likely that “95-97” is probably enough to get him welcomed back to the San Diego organization. As to whether there’s anything between the “Cubs desire to retain Megill” and the Padres to “get him back” remains to be seen. In as few as three weeks. (The wider that margin, the easier for a trade.)
My hunch is that no more than one of the three survive the season-long Rule 5 gauntlet. Checking in, periodically, on their results is better than a glance at their numbers. No, probably none of them are ready to “help their team win” this season, but affiliate interest for cost-controlled talent is rather lofty these days. Rucker, Machin, and Megill will have their longer-term fates determined by a combination of upside and production. After all, the 13th man in a bullpen or last bat on the bench aren’t usually going to sway a roster by much more than a game either way.
What have you thought of Megill? Are you interested in keeping him around for the next five years or so? Assessing Rule 5 talent isn’t about knee-jerk reactions. If he seems usable, as the last guy in the bullpen in 2020, he should be fine. However, if you don’t see a future in him, passing is fine.
Trevor Megill. Keep him?
This poll is closed
Sure, why not. For awhile.
95-97 is cool. Yes, until no.
Way too early to tell.