The Cubs designated catching prospect Rafael Lopez for assignment last week to open up a spot on the 40-man roster in acknowledgement of their suddenly crowded catching situation. Lopez, 27, had not made significant strides with the bat once reaching AAA, and it was debatable whether he had a future with the organization beyond this year. When a player is DFA’d, the team has 10 days to waive, release or trade the player, and the Cubs were able to trade Lopez this time around.
Lopez goes to the Angels in exchange for pitching prospect Manny Rondon and the Angels’ fourth international free agency bonus slot.
Rondon, 20, made it to the States this year after pitching the last two summers in the Dominican Summer League. The lefty is currently in rookie ball, and the sample is much to small to comment intelligently on what he brings. Coming into this year, he did not appear to be a significant prospect, but he’s a 6’1″ lefty who pitched well enough in the Dominican Republic to come over this year. That’s about all you could expect for Lopez.
That, plus the IFA slot, that is. The slot received, the Angels’ fourth, is the smallest slot available this year, at $149,700 (BA). Because the Cubs are blowing past their budget this year, anything they receive in trade like this is effectively like receiving cash, as it will reduce their overage tax on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
A flyer pitching prospect and some cash for Lopez is better than releasing him, which is what may have come next.