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rafael dolisBaseball America has helpfully collected and catalogued all of the players who qualified for minor league free agency this year, and you can see the fruits of that labor here.

For the Cubs, specifically, the current free agents are:

RHP: Alex Burnett (AAA), Yeiper Castillo (AA), Jaye Chapman (AAA), Johermyn Chavez (R), Rafael Dolis (AAA), Zach Putnam (AAA), Henry Rodriguez (AAA), Casey Weathers (AA)

LHP: Jeffry Antigua (AAA), Kyler Burke (HI A)

C: Nathan Maldonado (Lo A)

1B: Brad Nelson (AAA)

2B: Nate Samson (AA)

SS: Edwin Maysonet (AAA), Tim Torres (AAA)

OF: Cole Gillespie (AAA), Ty Wright (AAA)

As you can see, there is no one who jumps out as a guy you’d be crushed to see depart – that tends to be the case with minor league free agents, given that they’d previously been bound to their original team for at least six years, or were released sooner – but there are some interesting names. The one that should jump out at you is Rafael Dolis, a promising reliever who saw time with the big team over the last few years (mostly in 2012), but who struggled with control before an arm injury derailed him this year. The Cubs can keep any of these guys by placing them on the 40-man roster, but that isn’t likely to happen, even in Dolis’s case. Instead, if the Cubs hope to retain him, they’ll try to negotiate a minor league contract. (I can still see that effortless, hard sinker … and dream.)

Putnam was another promising reliever, but bone spurs ended his 2013 season and took him off the 40-man roster. Castillo pitched well in his first year in the organization after being a minor league signing (from the Red Sox organization) last year. We’ll see if the Cubs are able to bring them back.

The Cubs acquired Rodriguez last year in a trade, but his persistent control problems, well, persisted. He’s got a huge arm, and some organization will be happy to keep trying to harness it. Maybe it’ll be the Cubs, but maybe it won’t.

Burke and Chavez are pitching converts, though Burke’s been at it for a couple years now. He’s got a good arm, but he hasn’t yet advanced past High-A at age 25.

All in all, I wouldn’t expect to see too many of these guys return as the organizational churn continues.

Speaking of which, if you’re perusing the BA list for possible future Cubs signees, I’d look no further than the pitcher and catcher ranks, as that’s where the Cubs are most likely to be nibbling.

  • Jamie

    But…but…but…Dolis speaks Spanish. Where will he ever find a Spanish-speaking coach if he doesn’t re-sign with the Cubs?

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      That is just ignorant.

  • TWC

    Did Casey Weathers get an asterisk just to remind us of his Ian Stewart trade provenance?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. That’s my bad – it was designed to indicate an injury, which is not important for our purposes here.

  • SenorGato

    Not a one to mourn losing.

    • willis

      Yep. That’s a disgusting list of players. Not one will make an impact on a winning team so…see ya.

      • http://deleted cub2014

        rodriguez & dolis are the only 2 with
        legit upside.

        • EQ76

          come on guys, you know damn well that the Cards can pick up any of these guys and they’ll become all stars.

  • ssckelley

    I hope they retain Ty Wright, he seems like a good organization guy to have around.

  • Edwin

    Ugh, I knew I bought my Rafael Dolis jersey too soon. Guess I’ll just hang it up next to my Micah Hoffpauier jersey.

    • Spoda17

      Or next to your Gary Scott jersey…

      • ETS

        Angel Gusman

        • Edwin

          ugh, I actually like Angel Guzman. Not that he was ever that good. I just have a memory of a random May (or maybe June?) game against the Tigers, where Guzman got the emergency start. Guzman wasn’t very good, but he had this one inning in either the 2nd or 3rd, where he just dominated with only his fastball. Ever since then, Guzman became a player who I irrationally rooted for, even though I knew he wasn’t actually that good. At least he had 2009.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Guzman might have become a star were it not for injuries. He was about to be called up in mid 2003 because he was pitching so well (and he was the Cubs top pitching prospect at that time), but that’s when he got hurt.

            • Edwin

              The game I was thinking of was from 6/16/2006. 8 K and 3 BB in 5.1 IP, 1 ER.

            • SenorGato

              At one point in his prospectdom – we’ll call it 2002 – Guzman was said to have the best stuff in the organization. Better than Prior, Wood, or the hyped Juan Cruz. I didn’t buy it because we’re talking Prior or Wood in their prime. Anyway so in one of the next two or three STs I happen to catch my first ever glimpse of Guzman. He hit 98, threw a ~84 MPH changeup with fade for a swing and miss, and dropped a curveball that was somewhere in between Wood’s and Prior’s. Insane stuff before the injuries really started hitting, and even in the early days of his injuries he flash an off the charts pitch here or there.

              Still doesn’t hurt as much as Prior.

              • ETS

                prior guzman cruz TINSTAAPP i guess.

                • Edwin

                  McNutt. Rich Hill and his crazy curveball. Rich Hill’s AAA numbers were sick.

      • Edwin

        Collecting dust next to my Les Walrond jersey. Or as Ron Santo called him, Les Walrus.

        • Jose’s Eyelid

          Collecting dust next to me Jim and Wayne Tyrone jerseys.

          • Rob

            Can’t forget about or Felix Pie and Jake Fox jerseys too!

  • cms0101

    I too have dreamt on that effortless nasty Dolis seemed to have in short stints. AAA will be full of younger, more prospecty arms next year, so there’s less room for these 4-A types. But if I had to take a flyer, I’d want Dolis, Rodriguez, and maybe Antigua. You can’t teach the type of heat Rodriguez brings. You can teach control though, and often hard throwers like this take a little bit longer to pull everything together. Antigua is a nice lefty bullpen option that might have value down the road, maybe if/when they move Russell. Obviously none of these guys are big loses, but if the roster space is available in Iowa and they’re not blocking anybody better, why not retain a few for depth purposes and see if any can be more than that.

  • Joker

    The D-backs list immediately strikes me as a Cubs castoff list – Shawn Camp, Mike Brenly, Jake Fox, Brad Snyder…

    • Joker

      I take that back – just about EVERY organization is littered with ex-Cubs. Too many names from the past on those lists

    • ssckelley

      Jake Friggin Fox!!!!

      Sign him up for back up catcher. :D

      • Tony_S

        He was a stud for like 10 minutes one year

  • Joker

    I am not sure if they are willing to trade, but I can guarantee the FO will kick the tires on Ryan Hannigan if the Reds cut him loose via non-tender as wildly rumored. Great defensive catcher, intelligent, patient hitter. Not going to give you a ton on offense, but a good backup at age 33 if they cannot re-sign Navarro.

    • MightyBear

      H A Double N I G-A-N spells Hannigan.

      • DarthHater

        Mmmmm, boy that Hannigan goes down smooth. And afterwords you don’t even smell.

  • Eric

    Pretty sure we’ll pick up LHP Tommy Layne from the Padres.

  • Edwin

    Jose Ceda seems like a High K% High BB% flyer.

    • rockin’ dawg

      Former future closer.

  • macpete22

    The Cubs have to sign Henry Wrigley, don’t they?

  • bbmoney

    Unrelated, but here’s a fangraphs piece that reminds me to take all those financial projections from Forbes and Bloomberg with a grain of salt:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/forbes-bloomberg-battle-it-out-on-mlb-team-valuations/

    Not all their numbers jive real well together and show how little we probably know, especially when it comes to valuations of teams.

    • Scotti

      The Forbes and Bloomberg valuations of the Cubs are within 4 percentage points of each other.

  • Jose’s Eyelid

    Jaye Chapman looked so good in his brief time with the Cubs in 2012, but he only pitched six innings (in Iowa) in 2013. i suppose he was injured; anyone know details?

    Also, he is the only major leaguer in history named “Jaye” (Starlin, Aramis and Derrek are also the players in ML history with those names, would have never guessed on Derrek).

  • Kyle

    Like everyone else, the only name that stood out to be there was Dolis. I’d really not be sorry to see him brought back.

    • Edwin

      Dolis has a lot to fix. He doesn’t miss bats, and he walks too many. For having a good sinker, it’s not like generated an abundance of ground balls either. I’d be fine letting him go. Other than throwing hard, I don’t see the upside.

  • Melrosepad

    I’d like to see Putnam, Dolis, Chapman, and Gillespie brought back. They would be good depth at Iowa.

  • ETS

    Antigua had some good seasons in the minors – just not at AAA

    • AA Correspondent

      Antigua is IMO simply an organizational guy who can throw strikes. He is a soft throwing lefty and nothing else. (Think Jamie Moyer) He bounces around various levels whenever there is a bullpen need due to injury or circumstance. Again, I have seen him in several games, and he throws so darn slow that I just can’t see him EVER being any sort of impact player in the big leagues.

      my 2 cents

  • MightyBear

    Theo talking at the meeting.

    • Kyle

      Judging from the tweets, Theo is laying it on thick talking up player development, homegrown players, patience and all the years of control they’ve acquired.

      Basically setting the tone right now for a passive offseason and a losing 2014.

      • ssckelley

        Yep, in other words do not expect any big free agent signing this off season. :(

        • Kyle

          Every offseason is different. I’m expecting this offseason to be a bit lighter on immediate help than 2013 was, though not as empty as 2012. We’ll probably get one decent veteran on a short-term deal (flippable!). Someone in the Chris Young tier.

          But all the signs continue to point toward a lower payroll and more bad results in 2014. There’s enough raw talent to hope on, but any realistic assessment of contention will end up with a very long string of “and if this happens, and if this happens and if this happens” that almost certainly won’t all happen.

          Honestly, I think we’re a pretty good early favorite for a top-5 pick in 2015.

          • ssckelley

            No way Kyle, the FO can get a pass with 2 seasons of building not 3. If next season is like the last 2 there is going to be a lot of Cub fans calling for Theo and Hoyers head.

            Honestly they are not far from being competitive next season, the bullpen already looks a lot better and the starting staff is decent. Give me another good mid rotation starter and a right handed power hitter and I think the Cubs could flirt with .500.

            • Kyle

              I don’t think they particularly care that fans will be calling for their heads. At least not enough to change their minds.

              They are *really* far from being competitive nextseason. Good teams have five or six 3+ win players at a minimum. Cubs had one last year.

              Flirting with .500 is doable, sure. But there’s a sort of pull toward the middle at work. Getting from awful to .500 is a lot easier than getting from .500 to contending. Without major acquisitions, the only way the Cubs contend next year is if everything from a list of a dozen things goes right. Worth dreaming about, but we also have to understand that’s all we’re doing: dreaming.

              • Kyle

                Epstein basically just disavowed the Jackson signing, saying “maybe we got ahead of ourselves.”

                Seriously, he could not be broadcasting any clearer that we will not be major FA players.

                • Funn Dave

                  They made that clear about a month ago.

                  • Kyle

                    I know, but there are some holdouts on believing it.

                    • Funn Dave

                      Yes that is far too true.

                • mjhurdle

                  actually, i think him saying something along the lines of “we will not be major FA players” would probably be considered as “broadcasting clearer” than parsing through Twitter posts.

                  • Kyle

                    Well, there was this:

                    ‘”I don’t think we’re going to get to where we need to be through free agency for the short term, honestly,” Epstein said. “Given the needs that we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’ll have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency.

                    “We’re going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to changing things. We won’t solve our problems through free agency. It’s a very viable and sometimes attractive way to add talent, and to be a great organization you have to do it from time to time. Given our situation on a lot of fronts, it’s not the cure for our ills.”

                    The twitter stuff is just the news of the day.

                    • ssckelley

                      Well perhaps trades are in the works.

                    • Kyle

                      The hottest trade rumors of the offseason have the Cubs divesting themselves of MLB talent in an attempt to get high-impact arms that could make the rotation by 2016.

                    • Voice of Reason

                      What MLB talent do they have left to divest themselves of? lol

                      Schierholtz? Shark? Jackson?

                    • mjhurdle

                      I have read those quotes before, and believe that they indicates that they are not going to sign all the FAs this year.
                      But i don’t see anywhere in their quotes that say they WONT sign a big name FA.

              • Tony_S

                The only tiny disagreement I have is, fans calling for heads to roll is going to continue to hit Ricketts in the pocketbook. I have exactly no data to back this, but I have to believe that in any form of The Plan, ownership has to start getting concerned about attendance/sales drop off, and methinks there’ll be more internal pressure from above for TheoJed to start turning this big ship around. I’m sure they have projections on where the attendance curve bottoms out, but I doubt Ricketts has much more stomach for it, financially (vs from a fan perspective). I’m betting Ricketts bought this club with at least some belief that the faithful would stand by longer, not counting on the raised expectations after 2003.

                Just thoughts.

                • ssckelley

                  According to the attendance figures listed in BR the Cubs attendance was down 240K. At an average price of $55 per ticket that is a loss of $13.2 million in ticket sales, and another 135K from 2011 (another $7.5 million). If the Cubs continue this trend and lose another 350K in tickets sales next season that is $40 million in lost revenue for next season just in ticket sales. If the Cubs go out and make a big trade or sign a FA or 2, at least giving the appearance of a contender, the tickets will get sold.

              • Norm

                Nitpicking, but “minimum” of five or six 3 WAR players is high.

                Yankees only had 4 this year and they won 85 games.
                Orioles, same 85 wins and 4 players with 3+ WAR.
                Rangers won 91 and only had 4 (with one being Craig Gentry!)
                Nats had 8 players and only won 86.

                Obviously if people think Castro can bounce back + a few more good innings from Samardzija and Travis Wood, there’s four 3+ WAR players with W. Catillo. Then if the rest of the team can be less sucky, there’s a non-zero chance of competing.

                • Kyle

                  “Obviously if people think Castro can bounce back + a few more good innings from Samardzija and Travis Wood, there’s four 3+ WAR players with W. Catillo. Then if the rest of the team can be less sucky, there’s a non-zero chance of competing.”

                  Well, that’s the problem. All of the scenarios for contention in 2014 involve chaining together a long series of possibilities. It’s like trying to hit on an 8-team parlay.

                  The odds of any of those things happening aren’t remote, but the odds of all of them happening are extremely remote.

                  I mean, any team that isn’t just flat-out trying to lose 100 games like the Astros has a 10% chance or so going into the season, and we’ll have that, but that’s it.

                  • jt

                    Limit the WAR argument to position players ( you did say The Cubs only had one while Castillo and Wood were +3).
                    Oakland only had 2 position players with a +3 WAR. The did, however, have 8 position players with a WAR of 1.7 or higher.
                    If that is the model for 2014, the question becomes: Can they platoon their way to +WAR through balance?

                    • Kyle

                      I was using the generally more reliable and respected fWAR, in which Castillo at 3.2 was our only one.

                      Notice that all those teams with four came up short by a player or two.

                      Oakland has been a fascinating case study in recent years of being able to build a team with no holes and lots of decent production from lots of sources.

                    • SH

                      The WARgument

                    • jt

                      “Oakland has been a fascinating case study in recent years”
                      –Kyle
                      The 2012 O’s seem to be more the model that Theo/Jed are working with this off-season. The difference is that they had more experience in the pen and more SP depth at AAA.
                      They need a good defensive OF’er who can hit LHP.
                      They need a couple of good vets for the pen.
                      They need a few pretty good back of the rotation types.
                      They need Olt or C. Valenueva to provide defense at 3B and a 0.710 OPS.
                      The only tough need to produce is the Olt/Valenueva thing.

                    • CF

                      A team of replacement level players would win around 46 games. To be in playoff contention (including wildcards), let’s say you’d need to win 91 games. That’s 45 WAR that you need from somewhere. It doesn’t matter where that comes from, one player or many, but you’ve gotta get there. That’s an average of 1.8 WAR per player over the 25 man roster. Very few bullpen guys will get anywhere near 1.8 WAR, so the reality is that the other 18 players need to average much more, say 2 or 2.1 WAR.

                      The Cubs problem is that so many positions are complete black holes for WAR, and there’s no fix in the near-term for the positions. Looking at next year’s roster, Rizzo, Castillo, Wood, a 3B platoon and a RF platoon all stand a decent chance of being above that the 2 WAR threshold. For argument’s sake, Castro, Shark and EJax could all return to 2+ WAR form as well. But 2B, 2 OF positions and the 2 remaining starting pitchers don’t really have much hope for approaching that average. It’s not impossible that the Cubs could be in contention, but IMO, they’d need to add 5-7 contributors (at the positions mentioned and the bullpen) to have a chance, and that’s assuming none of the current players have a disappointing season.

                  • jt

                    “To be in playoff contention (including wildcards), let’s say you’d need to win 91 games. That’s 45 WAR that you need from somewhere.”
                    –CF
                    Indians earned 92 wins with a fWAR of 36.8
                    In theory, nothing works as it does in theory.
                    you have to look things up to square the ideal with the real.

              • ssckelley

                They have got to show improvements next season. While they may not care that the fans will be calling for their heads they will care if they keep losing money because nobody is buying tickets. Last season they were not all that bad until the trade deadline, in fact if they would have had the bullpen they ended with at the beginning of the season the results could have been much better.

                I agree that they probably will not be contending, to many things have to go right. But I do expect a decent improvement on the overall W/L record next season. I do not think flirting with .500 is to much to ask.

                • Kyle

                  They haven’t cared yet that attendance and revenues are plummetting. Why should they start caring now?

                  I expect the on-paper, pre-season 2014 Cubs to look worse than the on-paper, pre-season 2013 Cubs.

                  • ssckelley

                    I doubt that, just the fact that guys like Loe, Camp, and Marmol are not going to be on next seasons opening day roster has got to be an improvement. They do need to find a right handed slugger to replace Soriano.

                  • When the Music’s Over

                    I figured that there was a real good chance that when the Cubs said payroll would go up by $25-30M over last year that it didn’t mean aggregate payroll would be up $25-30M (or around $120M). Instead it meant that payroll for players on the current team, plus any new free agents, would be up $25-30M over last year.

                    Hopefully I’m wrong, and somehow a Tanaka signing occurs.

                    • DarthHater
                    • When the Music’s Over

                      Yep, thanks, read that one when he published, but still wasn’t entirely sure exactly what the Cubs meant. They’re so purposefully cryptic, it’s not typically a good idea to snap to a conclusion.

                      I now feel comfortable enough to assume they meant new money for current players with the balance of the $20-30M going towards free agents.

            • willis

              I’m with Kyle on this one, 2014 will be another very painful, throwaway season while they continue to build the minors. It’ll get a jolt sometime in the Summer when Baez and Bryant are ready, but really it’s going to be another year like the one we just saw.

              • Kyle

                I don’t think we should be assuming Baez and Bryant come up in the summer of 2014.

                Spring of 2015 seems just as likely, with September 2014 probably more likely than either.

                • willis

                  I’m thinking it’s more of a sure thing for Baez than Bryant, but hoping it happens with both so we have something interesting to watch.

  • DarthHater

    Jesse Rogers ‏@ESPNChiCubs 23m Theo points out they have traded 8 vets for a total of 4 yrs of “control” for 14 young players for 78 total yrs of control

    Cool. The 2091 Cubs are gonna be awesome!

    • ssckelley

      Jeez, that is assuming all 14 young players reach the majors. I cannot believe Theo just said that.

      • DarthHater

        Well, I don’t think it really assumes that. But it does appear to equate a year of ML control of a veteran with a year of minor-league control of a prospect, which seems like apples and oranges to me.

    • another JP

      It’s actually a great point and quite illustrative of the manner in which this FO does it’s business. Those 8 vets had an average of 1/2 a season that the Cubs could control and then they were on their own. Keeping them around to win ballgames that didn’t matter and prevent the Cubs from getting guys like Almora, Bryant and the 14 other young players (e.g., C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Olt, Arrieta, Strop, Hendricks, etc.) would have been foolish. Theo spoke about turning short-term assets into long-term players and that’s exactly what the Cubs have done.

  • mjhurdle

    Wish I could listen to Theo live.
    Seems to be making some good points, but it is hard to judge anything off of Twitter summations.

    • DarthHater

      You mean you need facts in order to make judgments? Bah! :-P

      • Kyle

        Boooooring.

  • Tony_S

    HenRod was Was’ closer for a week or two, and blows smoke… Maybe Bosio helps him harness it?

  • #23

    I agree, Dolis and Rodriguez are the two I would like to keep from that list.

    • DarthHater

      I’d keep Rodriguez on the 25-man roster as a head-hunter, for when the Cardinals get testy. :-P

      • On The Farm

        There would be no need for him then. The Cards are such a classy organization the Cubs would never be in a situation where his services were needed. The Cardinals don’t believe in Mickey Mouse celebrations, even if they do something good for their club.

        • DarthHater

          Well, if Brandon Phillips stays in the NL, I’d still keep Henry handy.

          • On The Farm

            This seems more plausible

  • #23

    maybe Chapman too

    • rockin’ dawg

      And Cueto.

  • Adarecub

    I thought Rodriguez was a rule 5 pick up? Who did we trade for him?

  • terencemann

    Looking forward to seeing the return of the ever-coveted Max Ramirez. Jason Jaramillo would make sense as a 3rd catcher. He’s probably better than Koyie Hill or lots of other emergency back-ups the Cubs have turned to recently.

    • cms0101

      Bring back Henry Blanco as a player-coach. I’d love to see Navarro back, but if he gets a starting job somewhere else, I’d be all for getting a good backup/mentor for Castillo. As far as a 3rd catcher goes, I think there are 30 names other than Koyie Hill that I’d be fine with to sit at AAA and wait for an injury.

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