Today was the deadline to add in-house players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of the Rule 5 Draft. That is to say, if a player who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft (taking place in early December) is not added to the 40-man roster by today, his team risks losing him.
For that reason, the Chicago Cubs today added middle infield prospect Arismendy Alcantara and pitching prospect Dallas Beeler to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 39. That’s pretty much what I guessed would happen yesterday.
Alcantara emerged this year as a clear-cut top ten prospect in the Cubs’ robust system, and a borderline top 100 prospect overall. Given that he performed well at AA and offers a great deal of upside in the middle infield, he would have been selected immediately in the Rule 5 by a gleeful Astros organization. He’ll likely be the starting second baseman at AAA next year, and the Cubs will have to figure out what the long-term plan is for him.
Beeler pitched well this year in the Arizona Fall League, after missing much of the season with a finger injury. He’s a tall (6’5″) righty who can touch the mid-90s and gets a lot of groundballs. He doesn’t really have a wipeout pitch, but he was certainly at risk for Rule 5 selection if the Cubs didn’t protect him.
Left exposed to the draft, among others, are Gioskar Amaya, Jae-Hoon Ha, Marco Hernandez, Eric Jokisch, and Matt Loosen. Amaya is awfully young and raw, as is Hernandez. It would be tough to take and stash them. Ha is a future 4th or 5th outfielder if he makes the show, and there are questions about Jokisch’s and Loosen’s ability to be starters in the big leagues. Each has a chance of being selected, and the Cubs will just have to deal with that if it happens.
Juan Paniagua remains a question mark (at least as of this afternoon), but, the fact that the Cubs didn’t add him to the 40-man suggests he is not eligible for the Rule 5. He’s a long way from the bigs, but the Cubs didn’t pay him almost $2 million in 2012 for nothing. He’s got a very high-upside arm, and could easily be a bullpen stash on a non-competitive team for the 2014 season. And then, the Cubs would have lost him for good. (UPDATE: And Bruce Miles is the man on the spot, confirming that the Cubs say Paniagua is not eligible for the Rule 5. Great news, and thanks to Miles for the info.)
The Rule 5 Draft takes place December 12. We’ll see more players taken off of the 40-man roster over the course of the offseason – for one thing, the Cubs will want to have room to take a player in the Rule 5 Draft, themselves, while still adding free agents and/or trade pieces.