We survived our second week at North Side Bound and we are starting to get in a little groove. We are still a work in progress in terms of figuring out how we are going to work together, but it’s pretty clear we work together amicably. We’ve got some exciting things coming up here in the near future as we begin to plan out the website and figure out just exactly all the different kinds of content we’re going to have.

Todd’s Take of the Week

The whole point of the Rule 5 Draft is so that teams can’t hoard players in perpetuity. Once you sign your player to a minor league contract, you only have the rights to that player for a limited amount of time. Depending upon the age when they signed, a player can be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after four or five years.

During the rebuild of 2012 to 2014, the Cubs used the Rule 5 Draft as a means to acquire talent for the major league club. Hector Rondon turned out to be a great acquisition for the Cubs and he anchored the bullpen until Aroldis Chapman arrived.

As well, because of the actual mostly permanent state of the roster between 2016 and 2020, the Cubs could protect a lot of prospects coming up through the system and keep them on the 40-man pretty easily.

That’s not going to be the case this winter.

As it stands today, the Cubs have 35 players on the roster. They have over 80+ players who are eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft this year. The deadline for protecting said players is this Friday, the 19th.

Based on the current state of affairs, the Cubs are only likely to protect Nelson Velasquez for sure. If they protect anybody else, they run the risk of closing out the roster before trades are made or free agency. Having that flexibility this winter for  Jed Hoyer and new GM Carter Hawkins is going to be essential. Then again, they could also DFA a player to try and sneak through the waiver wire and ship to Iowa. Or they could just nontender a player or two.

I would love to see the Cubs select four to five guys to be on the 40-man. I really would. I would be happy to see Ethan Roberts, Brandon Hughes, Andy Weber, and/or Bryan Hudson get protected. However, it’s just not feasible considering the needs of the major league club.

One of the things the Cubs currently have is plenty of MiLB depth. They can survive someone taking a risk on not protecting a pitcher or player who was injured all last year. Odds are that most players taken in the Rule 5 Draft usually get returned to their original club in spring training like Michael Rucker.

Some of you may not like taking a chance on losing one of your favorite prospects. But most of the guys the Cubs could take a chance on aren’t even in their top 30. They’re great dudes, though. We’ve grown to love them, but it’s a better baseball decision to have roster flexibility than it is to fill up the roster at this point in the off-season especially on players who might be MLB players someday but aren’t right now.

That’s the key.

Most of the players the Cubs will leave unprotected are not ready to step onto a MLB roster in 2022. Give them until mid summer, though, and they probably will be. Luckily for the Cubs, the Rule 5 is not held in the summer.

The Week That Was North Side Bound

North Side Bound actually wound up putting out a lot more content this week than we had originally planned. Greg Zumach was pretty busy in the week publishing his first 2022 Draft Q&A and also doing a profile of Caleb Killian and what Killian’s working on.

I kept up with the news of free agency on the MILB front on Monday and then I looked at how what is happening in the Arizona Fall League and how it’s going to impact those prospects’ careers. As well I did some International Free Agency digging. I couldn’t find a free agent database of Cub signings so I decided to make our own database. I followed that up on Saturday by actually grading the actual free agent classes going back to 2012. I also redid affiliate my depth charts and put them onto a baseball field. They turned out well!

On Thursday, Jimmy Nelligan looked at Bryan Hudson and the prospects for his future in 2022. This is Jimmy‘s official first longform piece outside of a prospect list. So, that was exciting! Jimmy is slowly becoming a grizzled veteran reporter.

Greg Huss also laid out 5 players that are shooting up prospect rankings this winter in his Friday Five Column. It was highlighted by a fun pic of Owen Caissie plopped down on the field taken by Rich Biesterfeld. As well, Bleacher Nation noted that Greg had not included Nelson Velazquez. Coming to Greg’s defense, Nelson will probably bumped up in the winter lists, which have yet to come out. We will have coverage of those lists when they do roll out. Baseball America will probably be first in a week or two.

Nelson Velasquez Dingers

Like clockwork, Nelson Velasquez is just killing it in Arizona. He just destroyed more baseballs this week and, here at North Side Bound, we like dingers.