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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Ethan Roberts

And, some thoughts about draft pick compensation.

Photo by Dylan Heuer/Iowa Cubs

Since I’m writing articles every day regarding prospects, I might as well use one of my articles to put forth one of my dopey tinfoil-hat-wearing ideas that I know most of you will hate. I’ve been taking my idea for a test drive on Twitter, anyway, and want fuller distribution on it. As per usual, it requires a bit of “if you assume” that some people detest. However, since I’m not buying anybody’s timeline on the recently imposed lockout, I’m going with it here. Even though it has next to nothing t do with today’s profile subject Ethan Roberts.

My idea stems from verbiage on the punishments for signing qualifying offer free agents. I prefer the term “punishment” over “compensation” as I’ve listened to enough George Carlin stand-up stuff through the years to object when I’m being told something is “compensation” when it’s really “punishment.” After all, if the Cubs (or some other team) signs Carlos Correa after the draft, there are no punishments. Whereas, teams that aggressively signed players pre-lockout already know their punishments: Their second selection in the draft (or third, in the case of Texas’ second bite at the apple) and $500,000 in international spending.

Ethan Roberts, right-handed pitcher

Born July 4, 1997. Sparta, Tennessee.
Cubs 4th Round Pick, 2018, Tennessee Tech

Ethan Roberts is another story of the joy of being a fan of college baseball. Never a flamethrower, he’s more of a remnant of the Cubs’ recent past. A leverage reliever in college, Roberts made “quality pitches” and “got outs” in school. He’s about 94 on the radar gun, but avoids the heart of the plate in his better outings. Tennessee Tech is far from a baseball factory. The five MLB players from Tennessee Tech have all been pitchers.

If you think it’s 100 percent essential to be following a Power Four (Big Ten omitted) Conference team to follow a big leaguer in school, you’re wrong. By the time the lockout is solved, quite a few schools will begin their quest for a title. How many, and how far into said quests they will be? That’s a future question I can’t answer. However, if there’s a college you’ve always respected, for whatever reason, look into their baseball program instead of reading the latest on Rob Manfred and Tony Clark. At least, if baseball is more than Cubs baseball, to you.

My silly idea circles around the compensa... punishment. What if the MLB lockout is lifted in mid-May, with games to resume in early July? The prohibition on signing MLB talent is lifted as of (let’s say) May 15, with a whirlwind of activity to follow. The punishment of the second pick in the draft and $500,000 international applies for all prior 2021/2022 Qualifying Offer-refusing free agents, but only applies further to players signed before the draft, whether said draft is in June or July.

The snugly fitting tinfoil hat idea is that the Cubs ought to consider signing Correa to a lengthy contract, but only after the draft. That way, they get the player to the team, without losing the draft pick and international spending. Will it even matter? Is Correa truly interested in the Cubs’ best offer? Would he balk at sashaying around the rules of the game? Would floating the idea risk losing him to another team? Would Rob Manfred get pissed off? (All the better?)

With Correa, I could possibly get behind signing him even with the two-fold punishment. (For Trevor Story or Nick Castellanos? Less so. I’d prefer the sixth pick in Round Two to Story, when you bundle in the spending considerations.) I’m somewhat surprised nobody jumped before the lockout began with Correa. As he is the best available option, a Craig Kimbrel 2.0 scenario looms. (Kimbrel was signed after the draft, so the Cubs got to keep their pick they used on Chase Strumpf, and their international spending pool.)

Mostly, though, it’s my idea. I’m willing to accept complete blame and none of the credit, after all, nobody else was talking about it. So, I started to. Correa is really good, and not many teams have the money under their budget to afford him. If fewer than five teams are truly in the hunt for Correa, and since his contract might well see him playing with the Cubs potential second pick in the draft (whoever that might be, if the Cubs keep it), Correa shouldn’t be offended by being asked.

Roberts pitched very well in Double-A Tennessee, and had a few bad outings in Triple-A. Nonetheless, he earned a 40-man roster spot at the November 19 deadline. He will be among the players jockeying for a call-up to Wrigley in 2022, and how he does with the I-Cubs after the lockout concludes will guide the decision. Either way, the choice is yours. Follow baseball early in 2022, or let Commissioner Manfred tell you what qualifies as baseball.


Should the Cubs ask Carlos Correa about waiting until post-draft to sign a contract, if the premise applies?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Heck, no. Pay the man
    (64 votes)
  • 14%
    No. Not a fan of him, anyway
    (26 votes)
  • 38%
    I’d run it by him and his agent, but not make it a sticking point
    (70 votes)
  • 7%
    Not for Correa, but possibly for Story and/or Castellanos
    (14 votes)
  • 4%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (8 votes)
182 votes total Vote Now