As expected, in advance of today’s deadline to add prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, the Chicago Cubs added …
- Miguel Amaya, C
- Tyson Miller, RHP
- Manuel Rodriguez, RHP
- Zack Short, SS
Amaya, 20, is pretty unlikely to contribute at the big league level in 2020, absent a rash of injuries, but it would have been madness not to protect one of the best catching prospects in the game, and one of the best prospects in the system. Some rebuilding club absolutely would’ve snagged him just to stash and keep (and that’s especially true/easy if the roster really expands to 26 next season, as expected). So to that end, I’m very glad to see the Cubs do what needed to be done.
Miller, 24, struggled upon reaching AAA this year, but was one of the best starting pitchers in the system at AA to open the season. He’s a legit big league starting pitching prospect, and was likely to operate as rotation depth as soon as 2020 anyway. So no sense in risking losing him in the Rule 5 Draft. He wasn’t quite as obvious an addition as Amaya, but we figured he would probably be added. Bryan wrote much more on him this morning.
Short, 24, is a very likely future big leaguer in some capacity, because he’s got pop and can play quality shortstop (as well as other positions). We had him as an on-the-fence guy after he missed most of 2019 with an injury, but with the Cubs lacking depth at shortstop, they clearly felt they couldn’t risk losing him.
Rodriguez, 23, only just pitched at High-A, so the Cubs pretty clearly feel like he was at risk for being plucked on the strength of his big stuff. Here’s what Bryan said about him earlier this week: “Extreme deep cut: I’m really hoping the Cubs protect 23 year old Manuel Rodriguez from the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He’s one of my favorites. A short, stout righty from Mexico, Rodriguez had 65 strikeouts, 17 walks and just one home run allowed in 47 innings in High-A Myrtle Beach last year. When I saw him in Spring Training, he was throwing a good-spin 96 mph with a really nasty curveball. He’s not experienced enough to warrant 40-man roster consideration, but you absolutely throw him on the AAA roster list, thereby protecting him from the minor league phase of the Rule 5. The Cubs don’t have enough mid 90s arms to lose one there.”
What’s really nice is that adding a High-A arm like Rodriguez at this time means the Cubs really like him, and, moreover, they thing the rest of the league does, too. So keep your eye on him.
The Cubs opted not to protect reliever Dakota Mekkes, who is a plausible selection this year in the Rule 5, given his unique style and performance. He might not quite be ready to pitch in the big leagues, so it would have to be a rebuilding club looking to stash him, betting on his upside. We’ll see.
The Cubs also didn’t protect any other depth catchers like P.J. Higgins or Jhonny Pereda. Rolling the dice that they won’t be ready to fit on a big league roster right away. I really hope the Cubs are able to keep both.
The Cubs’ 40-man roster presently stands at 36, with much more on the way this offseason. Lots of flexibility … in terms of the roster, at least.
The late hour of the announcement – a Cubs tradition – suggests to me that those fringe roster talks did come down to the wire with some team(s), but no trades have been announced. Now the Cubs will look to pick up those types in minor deals going forward, in signings/waiver claims of guys who were DFA’d today, or, hey, who knows? Maybe the Cubs shoot their shot in the Rule 5.