Today is the deadline for teams and players to decide on options and opt-outs, and the Cubs’ decisions appear now to be all in the books except for reliever David Phelps ($5 million), whose option I still expect to be declined .
Jose Quintana and Anthony Rizzo had their options picked up, obviously, and Brandon Morrow, Derek Holland, and Tony Barnette had their options declined, just as obviously.
Per ESPN, righty Kendall Graveman also had his $3 million option declined for 2020 (which would have come with another year of team control thereafter). I’ll concede up front that we know very little about how he actually looked after returning from Tommy John surgery (the Cubs signed him to rehab him and get themselves this option), he barely made any appearances at all late last year in the minors, and the Cubs are in the best position to evaluate how likely he looked to contribute next year. I guess he also is the kind of contact-management starter the Cubs have tried to shy more away from the last two years.
However, unless it was very clear Graveman can’t contribute, I’m not crazy about the Cubs passing up on a 28-year-old depth starter – with minor league options – who has had modest big league success before in order to save $3 million (and losing that extra year of control, too). To be sure, I’m not gonna freak out about payroll considerations on the basis of this kind of super opaque decision (for all we know, Graveman might wind up getting a minor league deal elsewhere or something), but I’m just surprised. And I’m watching.
We’ll evaluate this one later on with more context, both as the offseason plays out, and as Graveman’s 2020 plays out.
So, then, chop another player off the 40-man roster (we’ll reset it this week), and count Tyler Chatwood, Alec Mills, and Adbert Alzolay as the primary internal competition for the fifth starter spot.