I can’t promise fireworks today, but I can promise that some moves will happen around the league, and on the Chicago Cubs’ roster, too.
That’s because today is the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place next month. We’ll have more on the Rule 5 Draft component when that draft actually comes, but here’s what you need to know for today: In short, the Rule 5 Draft allows teams to pluck players from other organizations if that player has been in the minor leagues for a while, but has never been placed on the 40-man roster (prevents hoarding in a way that’s unfair to players). Thus, if you’ve got a guy who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft and you don’t want to lose him, you have to place him on the 40-man roster. By today.
That means, around the game, you will see a number of teams dropping players off of the 40-man roster and adding young players. Some of the dropped players could be a little interesting (for example, the Braves started their process last night, DFA’ing reliever Jonny Venters (just had his third Tommy John surgery, so don’t go getting excited) and infielder Ramiro Pena (who does look like a guy that would be nice to have as a depth option at Iowa if he’s forced to sign a minor league deal)).
You may also see trades today, with teams moving guys off of their 40-man roster to teams that have more space. It doesn’t happen every year, but it’s possible.
For the Cubs, what you’re most likely to see is a player or two added to the 40-man roster, and a player or two designated for assignment. The 40-man stands at 38 right now, so, if the Cubs want to add only a couple prospects to the roster today, then they don’t even technically have to remove anyone.
The only thing that’s an absolute lock today is that pitching prospect C.J. Edwards, who is Rule 5 eligible, will be added to the 40-man roster.
Beyond that, you can peruse the Rule 5 eligible list over at The Cub Reporter (although I can’t personally vouch for the accuracy of the list, it tends to be spot on), and see if any other names jump out at you as “must protect” types. I see several guys that I’d like the Cubs to keep – Gioskar Amaya, Marco Hernandez, Jeffrey Baez, Zach Cates, Dustin Geiger, Dillon Maples, Rubi Silva, Carlos Penalver, Andrew McKirahan, and Ivan Pineyro, among others – but I’m not sure if any of them are serious enough threats to be selected to justify the 40-man spot right now. Maybe Pineyro after his great AFL performance? Remember: a team has to leave a drafted player on the 25-man roster for an entire season (minus some possible DL time) in order to keep him. Otherwise, if he can’t stick, the drafting team has to offer him back to the original team. That’s why you can sometimes afford to roll the dice on not protecting lower-level guys who have only a tiny chance of being able to stay on a 25-man roster for a full season.
If the Cubs do decide to add a couple more guys, or decide to grab someone who is made available today, there are still some guys who could be DFA’d without too much pain to the organization.
In any case, you can expect some things to happen today.