How Teams Could Use the Rule 5 Draft, Top Gloves and Acquiring a Back-Up Catcher, and Other Cubs Bullets

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How Teams Could Use the Rule 5 Draft, Top Gloves and Acquiring a Back-Up Catcher, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The weather turned so quickly around here, and just before the weekend, that I am unlikely to be able to get the kids to do a lot with me outside today. I know it happens every year – you know, seasons and all – but dang it, I just like being able to be outside with the kids on the weekend.

  • With Rule 5 Draft roster protection decisions due on Tuesday, I’ve got the topic on the brain a lot right now, even though the draft itself isn’t for a few weeks. The Cubs dropped two more players from the 40-man last night, so they’re down to 34. That means, as of this moment, they could protect up to six draft-eligible prospects if they wanted (Brennen Davis, Ben Brown, and Kevin Alcántara are the locks, but after that, there are so many for whom you could make an argument). I think something in the four to six range sounds about right, even if there are far more eligible prospects that you want to be sure you can keep.
  • Something you have to remember about this year’s Rule 5 Draft that is FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT than any year before: big league pitching staffs are now capped at 13 pitchers, which means there are just 8 bullpen spots. That should, in theory, make it considerably more difficult for a team to draft a raw fireballer who cannot realistically contribute out of the gate. Players taken in the Rule 5 Draft have to be kept on the 26-man roster all season (except time on the Injured List), so if you’re going to take that A-ball arm who throws hard but is nowhere close to being ready to contribute, stashing him is going to be so much harder than it used to be.
  • So does that mean the Cubs are more willing to roll the dice on guys like Luis Devers or Ryan Jensen or Cam Sanders or Riley Thompson or Kohl Franklin being unprotected?
  • The flip side there: teams are now required to have larger benches than they used to, so I could see an increase in position prospects taken and stashed (which is why someone like Alcántara, who hasn’t played above Low-A, absolutely MUST be protected, even though he’s probably at least multiple years away from being big league ready). A specific area I wonder about teams targeting? Elite middle infield gloves, who can contribute off the bench at a young age in the limited shift environment, and elite speed guys, who can contribute off the bench in the larger bases/limited pick-off environment. I dream of the Cubs finding a prospect with a great glove at short and top speed, but who can’t hit at all so his team doesn’t protect him. I could see a really nice bench piece there, snagged for free.
  • The Mets absolutely were not messing around with the deferrals in their deal with Edwin Diaz, which would kinda freak me out if I were a Mets fan:
  • That means Diaz’s deal is reduced for AAV/luxury tax purposes (is the present value of that deal, what, maybe $90M? The Players Association will do the calculation, but it’s nowhere close to $102M), and also saves ownership a lot of cash out the door overall. On the one hand, that’s just business, and why wouldn’t you save yourself some time-value-of-money if the player is open to it? On the other hand, Mets GM Billy Eppler suggested the Mets HAD to do it this way to make the deal work, which, again, would make me nervous if I were a Mets fan who had been expecting Steve Cohen to always spend over $300 million on payroll.
  • For some reason, MLB announced the Platinum Glove winners at midnight eastern on a Friday. Nolan Arenado won it again in the NL:
  • Fun fact: the last non-Arenado to win the Platinum Glove in the NL was Anthony Rizzo in 2016.
  • In the American League, it was Yankees catcher Jose Trevino taking the honor, and indeed his defensive metrics were absolutely bonkers this year. In just 115 games, Trevino was credited with 21(!) Defensive Runs Saved and 19.1(!) Framing Runs. You can play with this calculation a little bit, but a rule of thumb is 10 runs for a win, which means Trevino’s glove was worth about four games won for the Yankees this year – just a bonkers number over 115 games. And that doesn’t even include the “other” catching stuff he presumably does – working with pitchers, game-planning, game-calling, adjustments, etc.
  • The wildest part is that Trevino entered Spring Training with the Rangers COMPETING for the BACK-UP catcher job, which he LOST to Jonah Heim (who is pretty awesome, too, to be fair). So they traded him to the Yankees for RHP Albert Abreu and LHP Robby Ahlstrom. The latter is a 23-year-old who stunk at A-ball this year. The former was terrible in the Rangers’ bullpen and wound up bouncing around on waivers, claimed in June … by the Yankees. FOR WHOM HE WOUND UP BEING AWESOME. That is one of the worst trades I can remember playing out THAT fast. The Rangers got absolutely finessed by the Yankees, and I am extremely jealous in hindsight, and maybe the Cubs can pull something like this off. No wonder Jon Daniels got canned by the Rangers …
  • And speaking of execs getting gigs in new organizations, here’s hoping the Cubs can get James Click on a short-term deal as a senior advisor or the like … or maybe get one of Click’s top lieutenants for something more permanent:
  • If Powers’ resume sounds familiar, it’s similar to Cubs AGM Ehsan Bokhari, who also worked in the research group with the Dodgers before going to the Astros. The Cubs then snagged Bokhari this time last year. Maybe they add Powers this year? Or Click? Or both?
  • The lowest pitch put into play this season was, of course, by Javy Báez – and yes, it bounced:
  • LMAO:
  • Simply wanted to enjoy it again:

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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.