When the Chicago Cubs picked up Ryan Lavarnway and Shane Peterson last week, they had to open up two spots on the 40-man roster to add each player. To do so, the Cubs designated utility man Logan Watkins and pitcher Donn Roach for assignment. At the time, the hope was that each would be waived, would clear waivers, and then be outrighted off of the 40-man and assigned to AAA Iowa. That’s transaction terminology for: the Cubs get to keep them at AAA Iowa to start 2015 (and they can come to Spring Training to try and win a big league job then, assuming they get non-roster invites), even though they are no longer on the 40-man roster.
And, according to Carrie Muskat, that’s exactly what happened. To my knowledge, neither Watkins nor Roach have been outrighted before, nor do they have significant big league service time, so it appears they cannot decline the outright assignment to Iowa. If they ever make the 40-man hereafter, however, the Cubs could not outright them again without their permission.
This is the best possible outcome for the Cubs, because both Watkins and Roach are interesting young players, especially as AAA depth. This time of year can be ideal for trying to get players through waivers for the purpose of outrighting them to AAA, because so many teams are adding players and just filled up their roster before the Rule 5 Draft.
I can’t help but wonder if the Cubs will eventually try the same thing with the men that replaced Watkins and Roach. Based on a limited bit of research, it doesn’t appear that either Lavarnway or Peterson have been outrighted before in their career, so, if the Cubs time the waivers right, they might be able to pull it off. Being able to stash Lavarnway, in particular, at AAA Iowa would be incredibly helpful, given the recent addition of David Ross (who hasn’t yet been added to the 40-man roster, and so the Cubs will have to make some kind of move to open a spot regardless).