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Today the Chicago Cubs claimed another player off of the waiver wire (can you recall a year, from Spring Training on, in which the Cubs claimed more players than this year? Neither can I). The claim of the day is 26-year-old righty Miguel Socolovich, a former Sox prospect – first Red, then White – from the Baltimore Orioles. In order to make room for Socolovich on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated catcher Blake Lalli for assignment.

Socolovich pitched in limited duty for the Orioles this year, but, so far, has spent almost all of his career in the minors, and almost entirely as a reliever. Signed by the Red Sox seven years ago, Socolovich was welcomed to professional ball by Tommy John surgery, from which he took a while to recover. His first full season came in 2007, after which he was dealt to the White Sox in a deal for David Aardsma. He languished in the White Sox organization, ultimately becoming a free agent after 2011, when he signed with the Orioles.

The backstory, then, doesn’t tell the tale of a well-thought-of prospect, but the numbers are quite solid, and trend upward. As Socolovich moved up to the higher ranks of the minors, his BB rate increased to a 4.4 last year (before falling back to 2.4 this year), but his K rate also increased dramatically. His K/BB ratio reached a solid 2.59 last year, and exploded this year, at 3.71. As I said, the trend is nice. His ERA has always been solid, and this year, so far, is a sparkling 1.90 at AAA (in the less hitter-friendly International League), and his WHIP is just 0.904. This was an easy and obvious guy to take a chance on.

The Cubs optioned him to Iowa after the claim, but he’ll likely come up with the big club in September. The Cubs will give him a look now, and then consider him for a bullpen job in the Spring. This is one of the many ways that most successful bullpens are built.

All in all, a nice freebie.

As for Lalli, at 29 and only modestly successful in the upper minors, I doubt he is claimed. The Cubs will retain his rights, then, through the end of the season. After that, he may elect to sign a minor league deal with another organization.

  • MightyBear

    Are there any rules that constrain a minor league roster? I know there are financial and logistical constraints but is there anything in the rules about minor league roster limits?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, there are limits – teams aren’t always AT the limit, though (like with the 25-man roster in the bigs).

    • Chris

      There are rules, depending on the level. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember the AAA rules, but they are similar to the ML rules. The farther you go into the system, the roster limits expand a bit more. There are inactive roster spots you can place people in, plus exceptions for rehabbing players. I believe there is a thorough explanation of all this on MiLB.com if you really want to dig into it a bit.

  • Coldneck

    Sure, why not. Seems like there’s some upside here. I’m just wondering why no AL teams or the Astros were interested.

    • Spriggs

      We’ll soon see why…

    • TonyP

      That was my first thought also.

    • rcleven

      10 inn pitched.
      6.97 ERA
      5.23 K/9
      5.23 BB/9

  • Spriggs

    Now Brenly can stop with the subtle rips on Blake Lalli. Pretty sure he didn’t like him being in line ahead of Michael.

    • Chris

      Lalli is still in front of Brenly, unless somebody claims him, which is doubtful. He’ll still be in AAA, only neither of them will be on the 40-man roster.

      • Spriggs

        I suspect that he’ll go the way of Chris Robinson at the end of the year though.

        • Chris

          Could be. They also have that Apodaca in AAA that’s the same age as Brenly, but can hit a little. And it seems like these guys are bringing in more ex-Padres or ex-Redsox fringe players, so who knows if there are organizational catchers out there they prefer. Brenly will certainly be in the team photo for being the emergency catcher. But if he’s not hitting his weight in AA, and he’s not known as a lights-out defensive catcher, I would guess they’ll look to fill the AAA catcher spot outside of the organization. At least until they can get some prospects coming through worthy of promotion to higher levels.

          • Spriggs

            Yeah, and if that fails, there is always the Koyie fallback… yikes. Was actually a little surprised Brenly didn’t get a few days up instead of calling Koyie in. They clearly have a problem at that position… thinking the same thing about their penchant for bringing in old Red Sox and Padre hands.

            • Chris

              When the apocalypse comes, there will be rats, roaches, and Koyie Hill roaming Wrigley Field.

              • Spriggs

                Gosh — the apocalypse will be worse than I thought.

  • Tommy

    I’m curious why teams put players on waivers if they’re not going to pursue a trade if someone puts in a claim? Why wouldn’t they just release he player if they had no intention of keeping him and allow him to pursue a job as a free agent?

    • Chris

      I think you might be getting the waiver types confused. The Orioles waived this guy to create a 40 man roster space for another player. They were probably hoping they could sneak him back into AAA as insurance, but the Cubs claimed him instead. This is different from the waivers being placed on guys in August for trade purposes. Plus, putting a guy on waivers the way they did absolves the Orioles of paying his remaining salary, whereas if they released him outright they would have to eat it. Now the Cubs pick up the remaining salary, which is probably the minimum, pro-rated.

      • Tommy

        I never considered the liability of the remaining salary. That makes sense.

        Thanks Chris.

      • hansman1982

        Unless this is his 2nd time through waivers this month, in which case they had no choice but to let him walk.

        Also, for guys on the 40 man there are two types of waivers but I don’t think quite as you’re thinking. If he was sent through waivers earlier this month, claimed and pulled back this would have been an Irrevocible waiver – meaning the Orioles couldn’t pull him back.

        • Chris

          No, this guy was designated for assigned on 8/14. Not an irrevocible waivers situation. They were trying to assign him back to AAA, but had to designate him because they needed a 40 man roster spot to call up other guys that same day. They could have outrighted him right to AAA if they left him on the 40 man roster. He had options left. That’s why the Cubs are able to send him to Iowa. Baltimore even slow-played when they actually put him on waivers. Designating a guy allows you to leave him in limbo for 10 days. But waiving a guy only allows you to expose him to other teams for 3 days. They waited until the end of the designation period to actually try to waive him. You don’t designate a guy for assignment if you’re trying to pass him through waivers for trading purposes in August.

  • cubmig

    Could Juan Cruz be far behind? Pitt has released him.

    • Spriggs

      why not? Always liked Cruz. Thought things would turn out better for him.

      • cubmig

        Agree. And since the Cubs FO is adding some filler for at least the next two seasons (my opinion anyway) Cruz might be dependable for helping hold things together while the development of others takes place. Who knows he might add the strength of experience that will be sorely needed next year.

      • donnie kessinger

        Juan Cruz is actually Pedro Alverez, and he is 47 years old.

    • Chris

      I always felt the Cubs did this guy a great disservice by moving him between bullpen and starting roles. He had electric stuff as a young player, and they seemed to sour on him quickly. He’s had some injuries recently, but has been a decent reliever over the last 3-4 years. He might be a little old for the Cubs plan though. They seem to be focusing on 20-somethings with many of these recent pickups. He’s got to be 32 or so by now.

  • SirCUb

    Shouldn’t it be: The Cubs D Blake Lalli FA.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, but the acronym has become the verb. That’s like saying it should be RsBI.

      • Scotti

        But it should never be RBIs. Runs batted Ins…

  • Cubsin

    Blake Lalli got his cup of coffee in the big leagues when the Cubs had a rash of injuries among their catchers. He was in the right organization at the right time, so he’ll be able to tell his grandkids someday that he played Major League Baseball. Good for him!

  • Kevin

    How many options are available for each player to be sent back to the minors? Does the September expanded roster count as one option?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If a guy is on the 40-man roster, but doesn’t spend the vast majority of the season (like, all but a few weeks, if I remember correctly) in the Majors, then an option has been used. Each player (with some very limited exceptions) has three option years. A September call-up doesn’t really have any impact – it’s just that guys on the 40-man are the ones likely to be called up (and they’ve already had an option year used).

  • Brian Peters

    Okay, it’s nice that we’re stockpiling arms and all, and I’m on board with the whole rebuild plan, but the way it looks right now, we will have garza and sammy one and two. Anyone want to guess who’s going to round out the rotation? Brooks Raley, anyone?

    • Earl Cunningham

      Wood, Raley and a Maholm type free agent pickup.

  • Chase S.

    Hey, Brett. I read this article Len Kasper tweeted today. Your thoughts?

    http://deadspin.com/5937409/does-a-last+place-team-really-need-beat-reporters

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Wow. As a consumer of media, and someone who writes about the Cubs for a living, I think it would be awful if something like that happened in the Cubs’ coverage. It’s just a sign of the times, I guess. It’s a shame, really. Folks like to grouse about the beat writers, but they serve a very important role for fans.

      • Chase S.

        I agree. Although this new phenomena of instant coverage via TV, social media, etc. is exciting and useful, it’s a shame that it has an affect on equally, if not more so, important things like beat writers. Currently going to school for this, well, dying occupation is scary and unsettling. After all, without beat writers, news and coverage of sports teams would be like something from Stepford Wives: all stories the exact same (or like ESPN). I guess all the more reason to hope the Cubs get better.

  • Kevin

    Ah, so options are good for 3 years regardless how many times he’s sent back to the minors. For some reason I thought an option is used each time a player gets moved back to the minors. Thanks Brett

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s correct – it’s better if you think of them as “option years” rather than “options.”

  • art

    my bad, it was silver spoons, lol. so stone me already.

  • ssckelley

    This guy looks like he could help the bull pen next year. Nice pick up!

  • Edwin

    I’ll be going to the game on Saturday, and then afterwords the wife and I are going to go into downtown Chicago for a meal. Does anyone recommend any good but not overly pricy places? I mean, I don’t need to go to a fancy place like Olive Garden or nothing, but any recommendations for a fun $10-$15 per plate place would be greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Chipotle!

      • TWC

        Dammit, you beat me to it.

      • Edwin

        Is Chipotle similar to Taco Bell?

        • Cubbie Blues

          No, Chipotle uses meat.

  • Coldneck

    $10-15 won’t get you very far in the city, but if you’re into chain restaurants the Cheescake Factory at the North end of the Mag Mile on Michigan might fit your budget. Also an option in your price range would be Pizzaria Uno, which has a decent amount of history but is usually packed and has a decent wait.

    • Coldneck

      Damn, I meant to reply to the post above.

    • Edwin

      Cool. If I didn’t care about price, and wanted a Chicago Experience, where would you recommend, without completely breaking the bank? Besides deep dish pizza. I just had deep dish last week.

      • Tim

        No doubt Petterino’s Restaurant. Fantastic Food Fantastic Service, Great place.
        150 North Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60601
        (312) 422-0150

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