40-Man Roster Decisions Looming

chicago cubs logoWith last week’s introduction of free agency (which kicks in fully after today, when free agents can start signing with new teams), the Cubs’ cleared three spots from the 40-man roster: Kevin Gregg, Scott Baker, and Dioner Navarro. Matt Guerrier was on the 60-day DL, and thus already didn’t count against the 40-man, but you can count him as “off” now, too. That brings the 40-man down to 34. Plenty of room to work with this offseason, right?

Well, today, the Cubs will have to activate Arodys Vizcaino, Kyuji Fujikawa, and Mat Gamel (if they decide to keep him) from the 60-day DL, bringing the 40-man back to 37. The Cubs will need considerably more room than that to maneuver this Winter, both with roster additions via free agency and trade, as well as in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. 

The 40-man roster currently looks like this:


Jake Arrieta


Daniel Bard

Alberto Cabrera

Kyuji Fujikawa

Justin Grimm

Edwin Jackson

Chang-Yong Lim

Blake Parker

Brooks Raley

Neil Ramirez

Hector Rondon

Zac Rosscup

Chris Rusin

James Russell

Jeff Samardzija

Pedro Strop

Carlos Villanueva

Arodys Vizcaino

Travis Wood


Welington Castillo


Darwin Barney

Starlin Castro

Mat Gamel

Donnie Murphy

Mike Olt

Anthony Rizzo

Luis Valbuena

Christian Villanueva

Josh Vitters

Logan Watkins


Brian Bogusevic

Brett Jackson

Junior Lake

Nate Schierholtz

Jorge Soler

Ryan Sweeney

Matt Szczur

I’ve italicized the players for which there is no reasonable probability that they’ll be removed from the 40-man roster just to make room for others. The rest remain theoretical possibilities – as you can see, I took a pretty broad approach.

Of the gents who are unitalicized, I think Cabrera, Lim, Ramirez, Rondon, Rusin, Barney, and Villanueva are extremely likely to remain on the 40-man (unless an opportune trade should present itself). For the others, I can see reasonable arguments for derostering or a dumping trade.

You’ve got to believe the Cubs would like at least six spots to work with this offseason, meaning that another three guys – minimum – will have to go in the coming days. Care to do some roster shuffling?

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

69 responses to “40-Man Roster Decisions Looming”

  1. Jono

    this is a nice reference to add “follows” on twitter

  2. Polar Bear

    Just a shot in the dark, but I’d say Gamel, Murphy, and Vitters. That’s just a start. I think there is more from the pitchers that will be removed.

    1. X The Cubs Fan

      Jackson instead of Vitters.

      1. MichiganGoat

        I’d say both send a handful of AA/AAA prospects the FO doesn’t have faith in but still have potential for either a low minor pitching prospect or a player that needs a change of scenery or reclamation project that another team is done with.

        1. YourResidentJag

          So, we get Ricky Romero from Toronto?

          1. MichiganGoat

            Yeah along those lines and paired with some low level minir league players.

  3. Joe H

    I don’t think Lim makes the cut and I hope they look to trade Barney to a team where his lack of offensive talent isn’t an issue. I can see Brooks Raley losing out as well but I see the rest of them staying put at least until Spring Training.

  4. MichiganGoat

    I see Brett Jackson and others going away in a trade to open spots, we can’t KEEP

  5. Chad

    Who are the rule 5 eligible guys that need to remain on the 40 man or need to be stashed on it eventually?

    1. ETS

      “that need to remain on the 40″ – it doesn’t matter what your rule 5 eligibility is once you are on the 40 man you have to clear waivers to be removed from it. I’m not sure if I interpreted your question correctly.

      1. MichiganGoat

        I think he’s thinking about who needs to be added to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

    2. MichiganGoat

      That’s the other pickle in this problem, I know there are a few that should be added but don’t have the list in front of me. The Cubs will have a deep roster of “prospects” they might want to keep but we will lose a couple to Rule 5, but I’m not sure we will be adding anyone this year.

      1. hansman

        Alcantara is one that will need to be added or traded.

    3. Chris


      There are many prospects who are Rule V eligible. Below is a list of some in no particular order (imo). Alcantara is a must to be 40-man’d, while Paniagua is also a must, if he’s eligible, but that is not certain yet, due to his unique professional history. Strong cases can be made for Beeler, Jokisch, Loosen, and Amaya, while Ha, Cervenka, Batista, and Cates all warrant consideration, as well.

      Arismendy Alcantara
      Juan Carlos Paniagua (?)
      Dallas Beeler
      Eric Jokisch
      Matt Loosen
      Gioskar Amaya
      Hunter Cervenka
      Frank Batista
      Jae-hoon Ha
      Zach Cates
      Starling Peralta
      Justin Bour
      Dae-Eun Rhee
      Marco Hernandez
      Willson Contreras
      Lendy Castillo
      Yao-Lin Wang
      Pin-Chieh Chen
      Gerardo Concepcion

  6. Kramden


  7. Werner

    Sorry Gamel is out until he rightfully adds another T to his first name. I mean, c’mon.

    1. TheRiot2

      What’s wrong with Mat,I’m sure his close personal friends call him by his nickname of DOOR. All in all I’m intrigued by his bat he however has no familiarity with a baseball glove. He could be spun off as a D H to the AL.

  8. mdavis

    Bard, Raley, Gamel, Murphy.

    guys they can try and sneak through and stash.

  9. hansman

    Are “recent comments” not working for anyone else?

    1. MichiganGoat


  10. ETS

    really quickly I ordered them from least likely bummed off the 40 man (at the top) to most likely (at the bottom). Done very so please critique away.

    Non italic guys:

    Highly unlikely:
    Darwin Barney
    Neil Ramirez
    Chris Rusin
    Chang-Yong Lim
    Alberto Cabrera
    Hector Rondon
    Christian Villanueva

    Probably unlikely:
    Donnie Murphy
    Daniel Bard
    Brooks Raley
    Zac Rosscup
    Josh Vitters

    Who knows?
    Matt Szczur
    Logan Watkins
    Mat Gamel
    Brian Bogusevic
    Brett Jackson

  11. CubChymyst

    Gamel, Raley, and Watkins.

  12. Beer Baron

    I’d drop Gamel, Murphy, Raley, and Bogosevic. All are really just bench players and are easily replaced. Then if more are needed maybe Vitters, Jackson, Bard, and Watkins. I’d rather not drop any as they all have flashed real potential and are still young enough where it can all click.

    1. Jono

      Beer Baron deserves a BN award for best name and profile picture

      1. DarthHater

        I’d still go with Soda Popinski.

  13. Illini Iceman

    Jackson, Murphy, Raley

  14. Nate

    Could these issues leading to the Cubs making a big trade? If you trade Soler or Alcantara (not on this list but he he needs to be) that’s one guy you you don’t need to have on the 40 man with a Szczur or Jackson or Watkins or etc. as part of a package for a Price/Scherzer/CarGo/(insert young guy likely to be trade here) you can exchange two or three roster spots for one and get better.

    1. MichiganGoat

      If any big name gets traded it will be Baez, but your point stands that trading away a handful of these lesser prospects is very possible. I could see these second tier prospects being traded for a 4/5 starter, bullpen arm, or platoon/bench piece that the FO sees value.

      1. Chad

        Why do you say that? I just don’t see Baez getting traded, but that’s just me. I think odds are higher that Castro would get traded. I think Alcantra, maybe you don’t consider him a top prospect, as a likely trade candidate.

        1. MichiganGoat

          Because Baez has the greatest value of the Big 4/5 (Bryant can’t be traded yet) and if we want to get a big name the other teams will be asking for him. I’m still undecided if he will be a star or a bust in the MLB, the K rate is concerning. I hope the FO makes the right choice with him.

          1. Chad

            I agree he has the most value, but he also has the most potential value to the cubs as a player in their organization. I think he’s only included if it is a huge deal and the part with little else. I just don’t see them trading their number 1 prospect when their goal is to build that farm, but hey I could be completely wrong. Baez could bust, so if they don’t see him as a stud then I’d say yeah trade him when his value is highest, but like you said, don’t want to trade the wrong guy.

            1. MichiganGoat

              You trade Baez if you don’t think he will be a success in the MLB, it’s a risk and we really need for the choice to be the right one. If we keep Baez and he busts we lost on multiple fronts because we can get a nice return right now.

        2. MichiganGoat

          As for Castro my same point about Baez stands, we can’t afford to trade the wrong player away.

      2. YourResidentJag

        Yeah, don’t think so. Shark and Castro…would like them to explore trade options with those two, though.

      3. Nate

        I think Baez would be a starting point but for any of these types of trades. But I was it depends on the trading partner and the player your getting back. Price or Shierzer and he’s probably gone; CarGo maybe not. Really, I wouldn’t mind trading Baez for one of the pitchers because I have the same reservation you do. The K% bothers me and his value is huge right now. But, if you trade him and Szczur and Cabrera (example not saying that get it done) you still get a two for one roster move and maybe three because now your rotation is pretty crowded.

  15. Jason P

    Bard, Raley, Murphy

  16. YourResidentJag

    Looks like according to one report that the Oakland A’s will move into AT & T Park for the next two years so that it can be determined what the future of the team will be. MLB is orchestrating the move. Wonder what that will be like if it happens.

    1. SH


      Can you link?

    2. TWC

      Well, no. I’m not sure what report Lou is referring to, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.

      The Oakland Coliseum Authority and the A’s have been negotiating on and off over the lease terms for over two years, and MLB is tired of it. MLB told the Authority that they would allow and encourage the A’s move to SF for the next two years if the Authority cannot come to lease terms with the A’s. (It’s probably a precursor to the A’s finally leaving Oakland, even though MLB blocked their move to San Jose.) The two teams don’t share many home dates, but I think that there are 9 or 10 overlapping home games next season that wold need to be worked out.

      IMO, it’ll never happen. MLB is tired of the dickering and this is their way of settling it. I suspect Oakland will get a 2-year lease, after which they’ll manage to get their move to San Jose or they’ll be sold to another city outside of the Bay Area.

      1. MichiganGoat
        1. TWC

          FWIW, Matier & Ross are more or less the Chronicle’s society gossip column.

          1. MichiganGoat

            I figured it wasn’t national news but this article was linked earlier in the comments and is where all this chatter is coming from.

        2. cavemencubbie

          Goat my mentor:
          If the A’s move, where do you think they go? Salt Lake, Portland or an East Coast town like Raleigh/Durham or New Orleans?

          1. MichiganGoat

            I have no idea but San Jose seems to be what is always mentioned.

          2. TWC

            They’d almost have to stay on the West Coast. Moving east would completely jack up the divisional alignment (again). I really don’t think they’ll leave the Bay Area, and I’d bet that they end up in San Jose after all. Possibly Portland, though, as Portland has been pretty horny for an MLB team for a while.

  17. josh ruiter

    Just a question: When filling out a 40 man, how many guys at each spot are kept on the 40?
    20 pitchers, 20 position guys? with a bit of flex based on good prospects? Just looking at the list figuring you keep 20ish positional guys you figure 12 infield, 8 outfield? That would leave us with: Castro, Alcantara, Olt, Villanueva, Rizzo, Castillo as locks. Then you can darn near pick out of Watkins, Barney, Murphy, Valbuena and Vitters. We are going to carry at least one more catcher. So call 7 locks already. I would like to have Amaya and Bour protected IMO. I would like to keep Murphy as a solid backup, PH option. I also think Watkins needs a shot. That means its 11 and all of Olt, Castro, Watkins, Rizzo, Murphy, Castillo will be on the 25 man, plus the 2nd catcher. So that is 7 guys on the 25 man. Hard to Justify carrying more than 8 infielders on the 25 man which means it will come down to Vitters, Gamel, Valbuena, and Barney for the last spot. three of the four guys not playing 1b/C are righties so I tend to think it will be a lefty. Valbuena is my guess. Barney needs to go and Gamel is a sunk ship. Vitters is an odd man out but could slide through waivers maybe.

    1. MichiganGoat

      There are no rules but yes the smart approach is to keep some kind of balance between positions.

    2. Kyle

      There’s no set way to apportion it. The Cubs currently have 41 players on the MLB Reserve List (official name for the 40-man) and 22 of them are pitchers, 19 are position players.

  18. YourResidentJag
    1. SH

      Awesome, thanks. Just moved from the Bay Area, would be odd/cool to see the A’s at ATT. The politics of all of this leave no one looking good imo; hope they can sort this out just to put everything behind us.

  19. cubsin

    There are several flies in the ointment that make predicting the Rule 5 roster very hard. We’re going to sign two or more free agents (a veteran SP and a C for sure, possibly a RP and an OF). They’ll probably keep a space open to draft somebody in the Rule 5 draft. They may want to protect somebody else in addition to Alcantara. They’ll make some trades, and I’d expect Samardzija and Castro would each bring back more than one roster candidate. Also, they’ll presumably add at least Baez and Bryant to the roster during the 2014 season.

  20. J.L.

    Couldn’t they outright Fujikawa, since it’s doubtful he’ll be ready to pitch at all next season?

    1. MichiganGoat

      They could but then he’d be a free agent and still getting a contract from us… It’s a horrible idea.

      1. J.L.

        He’d only become a free agent if there’s a provision in his contract that gives him the right to refuse an outright assignment to the minors, I believe. Which is probably the case, but I don’t know for sure. That’s actually what I wanted to see if anyone knew.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I’ll need to look into everything but I think he has to stay on the 40 man roster if not the 25 man.

  21. MightyBear

    Brett is there an article coming on who is eligible for Rule 5 and who can be protected on minor league rosters and who the Cubs need to add, ignore, etc.? Thanks.

  22. YourResidentJag

    For all the Star Trek fans, this appears to be the 1st video uploaded by Leonard Nimoy to Youtube and it’s great: http://youtu.be/ZZJ1fJTezFE

  23. willis

    Color me stupid, or just that I don’t pay enough attention, but why, if they aren’t healthy and won’t be ready to contribute for most of 2014, do they have to activate the 60 day DL guys. I’m sure it’s just some formality but I don’t know.

    You have to add a catcher to the 40 man, whoever that may be. As far as who to drop, Raley, Bard, Watkins, Gamel…maybe Bogusevic and Murphy if you think you can stash them. Lim a good possibility too.

    1. Pat

      It’s to prevent teams from trying to protect more than 40 guys. Once the season is over, the DL ceases to exist for all practical purposes until the start of the next pre-season.

    2. MichiganGoat

      Yes it a formality and a way to ensure teams don’t stash players on the DL over the winter. It opens up more movement and opportunities.

      1. willis

        Makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up. I feel less dumb now.

  24. YourResidentJag

    Joel Sherman doesn’t see the Red Sox formula replicable: http://nypost.com/2013/11/03/dont-expect-other-teams-to-replicate-red-sox-blueprint/

  25. Fenway Frank

    I would try to outright fujikawa.

  26. Durbin

    What are your thought of removing Edwin Jackson from the 40 man roster. Not sure anyone would claim him because of his salary. We could then add him back later after we make our moves for the season. Am I thinking about this right?

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