Luis Devers – Picture by Todd Johnson
In just two weeks, around 4 PM CST, the Cubs will have to turn in their 40-man roster which could contain a few prospects that they want to protect from the Rule Five Draft. In just a few days from now, the World Series will end and the Cubs roster will need to be reset. They’re going to have to make a few moves immediately such as returning IL players to the active roster which will put them four over the cap. They will cut a few guys to initially get under the cap. But there will be more to come. As well, the Cubs can protect minor league free agents who are set to depart by placing them on the 40-man as well.
There’s a lot of machinations that are going to happen very, very quickly once the World Series is over.
The Cubs currently have a little over 20 minor league free agents and around 65 guys eligible for the Rule Five Draft. This is no different than any other team in the majors because of Covid. So all the teams are in the same boat with a plethora of players to either protect or put out there for all of MLB to pick.
The issue for every team is if they pick a player in the Rule 5 Draft is they have to have a place for them to play or return them to the club they took them from. This tends to make relievers a little bit more valuable in the Rule Five Draft because it’s much easier to hide a guy in a bullpen and only have them pitch during blowouts until he’s accustomed or adapted to the major league level.
With all those things in mind, here’s what I see the Cubs doing over the next two weeks.
Once all the players on the injured list have been activated, the Cubs will cut close to 10 or 11 players to bring the roster down to 32 or 33. They will quickly add Yonathan Perlaza to the 40-man. It’s rumored that he has already signed a minor league deal with the Cubs for 2023. Adding Perlaza will only clinch the Cubs not losing him in the rule five draft. Switch-hitting power guys who can play the outfield don’t exactly grow on trees. Prior to the injuries to Davis and Canario, Perlaza probably would have be re-signed but would be eligible for the Rule 5. Now, things have changed greatly.
When I look at the 70 or so players eligible to be taken in the Rule Five Draft, I try to put myself in the shoes of other GMs. Which players would they want or whom do they see as valuable future assets? Those would be the guys I would protect. The Cubs can’t protect a half a dozen unless they cut 14-15 guys and get the roster down to 29-30 next week. That’s just not happening.
More than likely, the Cubs will only add an additional four players after Perlaza. Brennen Davis will be the first guy protected. Kevin Alcantara is in no way ready to play in the major leagues, but the Cubs are still going to protect him.
To add to that list, I would protect starting pitchers Riley Thompson and Ben Brown, both guys who appeared at Tennessee last year. Brown is probably set to return there to start 2023 while Thompson should be at Iowa. Both could be stashed in a bullpen at the MLB level. Considering Brown was just acquired by the Cubs, he’s not going anywhere.
My two wild cards are Cam Sanders and Danis Correa. Teams are more likely to pick relievers in the Rule Five Draft. These two guys both throw in the upper 90s and teams may want to take a chance and have them develop at the major league level. I wish the Cubs could keep both of them but the Cubs may not value relievers as they may think they can just produce more relievers which they have done in the past few years. Then again, these guys sit 98-99.
One other player I see being taken by a team would be Darius Hill. The young outfielder out of West Virginia has had two great seasons back-to-back in the system and has just not been given a chance despite his ability to hit for average at both Tennessee and Iowa the past two seasons. If the Cubs don’t protect him, he’s good as gone. Somebody’s going to take him and put him in left field and just let him hit leadoff and find his way on base by whatever means necessary. That’s just who he is.
I don’t see Luis Devers getting protected as the Cubs will probably take a risk and not protect their 2022 Pitcher of the Year considering that he has never pitched above class A.
As soon as the World Series ends, it’s going to be game on for roster changes the very next day.