Jed Hoyer Acknowledges That the Cubs Have Some "Really Difficult" 40-Man Roster Decisions Coming

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Jed Hoyer Acknowledges That the Cubs Have Some “Really Difficult” 40-Man Roster Decisions Coming

Chicago Cubs

We talk about the coming 40-man roster crunch a lot in the abstract – the Cubs have more prospects they’re going to want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft than they are going to be able to protect – and there will be a time at the close of the season to really dig in on it. But even as we know a lot might change between now and October, some comments from Cubs President Jed Hoyer were worth sharing today.

It’s not just we prospect nerds who see a challenge coming this offseason for the Cubs. It’s also the front office.

Describing the coming 40-man roster decisions in advance of the Rule 5 Draft, Hoyer said this year is “much more complicated.”

“It’s a good problem to have,” Hoyer told the Tribune. “When you have no real strong 40-man roster decisions or no difficult decisions, that’s a problem. We have a lot of really difficult ones now or guys that I think are deserving.”

Even if not for the Cubs’ atypical depth, this year would probably still be challenging for the simple fact of the lost 2020 minor league season. Stripping away an entire prime year of game action for players who were drafted in 2018-2019 or signed as International Free Agents shortly before that means that you have an overload of eligible prospects who are (1) really good, and (2) relatively inexperienced. Jumping them to the 40-man roster is a pretty tall ask in some cases, even for prospects you might love.

That likely means some good prospects will be unprotected no matter what, and the sharks will be swimming at the Rule 5 Draft in December.

Note that this is a challenge that cuts both ways, though: if the Cubs are facing this problem, many other organizations are as well. That means that more “good” prospects will be unprotected than ever before (which means it is slightly less likely that the Cubs-specific ones will be drafted), and it also means other organizations will face 40-man rosters crowded by younger players, making it less feasible for them to actually roster that type of prospect on their 26-man big league roster after the draft.

In other words, it’s possible we see many more “holy crap they left THAT guy unprotected?!” decisions this year than usual. Not just with the Cubs, but around baseball.

You can see the full scope of Cubs minor league players who are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft here at The Cub Reporter. A very inexhaustive list of some of the quality Cubs prospects who are Rule 5 eligible this year – some are easy, some are definitely not (and this doesn’t include guys who’ve already been placed on the 40-man, like Hayden Wesneski, Javier Assad, and Jeremiah Estrada):

C Pablo Aliendo
OF Kevin Alcántara
RHP Michael Arias
1B Bryce Ball
RHP Ben Brown
RHP Chris Clarke
RHP Danis Correa
RHP Yovanny Cruz
OF Brennen Davis
RHP Luis Devers
RHP Kohl Franklin
RHP Richard Gallardo
OF Darius Hill
LHP Bryan Hudson
RHP Ryan Jensen
LHP Brendon Little
OF/1B Nelson Maldonado
RHP Michael McAvene
INF Juan More
OF Ezequiel Pagan
OF Yonathan Perlaza
OF Yohendrick Pinango
RHP Jake Reindl
OF Cole Roederer
RHP Cam Sanders
INF Jake Slaughter
INF Chase Strumpf
RHP Riley Thompson
RHP Cayne Ueckert
INF Luis Vazquez
INF Luis Verdugo
INF Andy Weber
UTL Jared Young

At a very quick eyeball, I count as many as TWELVE(!) prospects on that list that I think are good enough to really want to keep, and also are good enough that it’s possible some team would try to poach them, even knowing that it could be hard to stash them. I don’t see how the Cubs can *actually* protect 12 additional prospects, so there are going to have to be some risks taken, and/or some trades before the November rostering deadline.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.