Picture of Harrison Wenson by Todd Johnson

This is for sure: Last night marked a huge shift as most of the players entering free agency were taken in the 2014 through 2016 drafts. Those moves signal a huge change in direction as the Cubs then began taking younger and more athletic players in 2018 and 2019 and those are the players that now dominate the system.

Late last night, as I plopped in bed, I started flipping through my phone and came across a wave of minor league transactions by the Cubs. I have been expecting them to happen since the end of the World Series. To see it in en masse was a bit shocking as the Cubs basically emptied out half the roster at Iowa. Players that I had covered at Cubs Central, BP Wrigleyville, Cubs insider, and North Side Bound for the past seven summers are now gone. Dakota Mekkes, Trent Giambrone, Matt Swarmer, Donnie Dewees are now, for lack of a better phrase, in the wind.

I am sad to see them go because they didn’t get a chance in the majors.

We could see some of the players guys come back in the system as coaches. Jonathan Sierra, Harrison Wenson, and Tyler Payne could fit that bill.

But their release also opens up the door for a lot of other prospects.

There are three missing free agents not on the list. They are Yonathan Perlaza, Stephen Gonsalves, and Zach Davis. Those guys will look to still be retained. We’re not sure in what capacity just yet. Perlaza has an outside shot at a 40-man position and we will find out in the next five days whether that’s going to happen. Also missing is Tim Susnara who missed all of 2022. The veteran minor league backstop had an excellent year at Tennessee in 2021 before getting injured in the spring.

Here is the full list of transactions from last night along with a couple of comments after each level


2B Carlos Sepulveda elected free agency.
LHP Brad Wieck elected free agency.
LHP Steven Brault elected free agency.
CF Donnie Dewees elected free agency.
2B Trent Giambrone elected free agency.
RHP Alec Mills elected free agency.
LHP CD Pelham elected free agency.
LHP Wyatt Short elected free agency.
RHP Jonathan Holder elected free agency.
LHP Bryan Hudson elected free agency.
RHP Kervin Castro elected free agency.
RHP Dakota Mekkes elected free agency.
CF Narciso Crook elected free agency.
C John Hicks elected free agency.
RHP James Bourque elected free agency
RHP Matt Swarmer elected free agency.
C Erick Castillo elected free agency.
RF Franmil Reyes elected free agency.
C Tyler Payne elected free agency.
RHP Anderson Espinoza elected free agency.
Iowa Cubs activated LHP Stephen Gonsalves.

These transactions now open up the door for a lot of players to come up from Tennessee. There are no catchers left here and we will see most of the Smokies position guys move up to start the year. There will be MiLB free agents added as depth for the MLB club too.


LHP Burl Carraway from the 60-day injured list.
Tennessee Smokies activated RHP Dauris Valdez from the 60-day injured list
RHP Dauris Valdez elected free agency
2B Delvin Zinn elected free agency
C Harrison Wenson elected free agency
Tennessee Smokies activated LHP Jack Patterson from the 60-day injured list.

Not a lot of schockers here, but it is sad to see Delvin Zinn go as he was one of the most likable guys I met in the past five years. This year, though, he was only playing once a week, maybe twice.

South Bend

South Bend Cubs released RHP Gabriel Jaramillo.
RHP Jose Albertos elected free agency.
RF Jonathan Sierra elected free agency.
South Bend Cubs activated RHP Derek Casey.
South Bend Cubs activated RHP Yovanny Cruz from the 60-day injured list.

If Jonathan Sierra doesn’t sign somewhere else, I would not be surprised to see him coaching young Cubs next summer. It was sad to see Gabriel Jaramillo go as he is a really nice young man, too.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach Pelicans activated OF Christian Franklin.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans activated LHP Joel Machado from the 60-day injured list.

This is a breath of relief as I think very highly of Franklin. He should be one of the breakout players of 2023 if he can come back healthy after missing all of 2022.

If you haven’t checked out the release of Greg Huss’ new “Cubs on Deck” podcast, head on over to iTunes today to check out episode 1!