Cubs Add Four to 40-Man Roster, DFA Bryan LaHair and Acquire RHP Barret Loux from the Rangers

The Cubs announced several roster moves Tuesday evening prior to the deadline to set the 40-man roster in order to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

The Cubs designated Bryan LaHair for assignment. According to multiple reports, LaHair appears to be close to signing a contract to play in Japan. The Cubs outrighted RHP Carlos Gutierrez off the 40-man and assigned him to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs also sent injured pitcher, Jacob Brigham, back to the Texas Rangers and acquired right-hander pitcher Barret Loux and a player to be named later from Texas. The Cubs acquired Brigham, along with a PTBNL, in the deal that sent Geovany Soto to the Rangers on July 31.

The Cubs opened three spots on the 40-man roster by trading Jacob Brigham back to the Rangers, assigning Carlos Gutierrez to Triple-A Iowa and designating Bryan LaHair for assignment. Barret Loux, by rule, was not added to the 40-man roster.

The Cubs selected the contracts of right-handed pitchers Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack as well as infielders Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins. The four players were added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster, which now stands at 40 players.

Barret Loux
The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, along with a player to be named later for Jacob Brigham. The Cubs acquired Brigham from the Rangers, along with a player to be named later for Geovany Soto on July 31. Brigham dealt with elbow soreness but did not require surgery.

Loux was the 2012 Texas League Pitcher of the Year after posting a 14-1 record in 25 starts with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. Loux struck out 100 batters while walking 41 in 127 innings. Baseball America ranked the 6-foot-5, 215 pound right hander the 20th best prospect in the Rangers system prior to last season.

The Diamondbacks selected Loux sixth overall in the 2010 draft but did not sign him after he failed his physical. MLB awarded Arizona with a compensation pick in the 2011 draft and declared Loux a free agent. The Rangers signed Loux in November of 2010 for $312,000.

Loux throws an easy low-90s fastball and can run it up to 96 mph. Some project Loux as a middle of the rotation starter, some as a middle reliever. Loux also throws a power slider (82-84 mph) and a curveball that was his best pitch in high school. The bite on Loux’s curveball has not been the same since he had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow while he was in college at Texas A&M.

By rule, Barret Loux did not have to be added to the 40-man roster and is not eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

Barret Loux’s Page on Baseball-Reference
Jacob Brigham’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Bryan LaHair
Bryan LaHair was designated for assignment after finishing his All-Star season in a backup role. LaHair put up big time numbers early in the year (.286/.364/.519/.883 with 12 doubles and 14 home runs in 74 games, 231 at bats, before the break) but was relegated to the bench after Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson received promotions. LaHair managed just a .202/.269/.303/.572 line in the second half with five doubles and two home runs in 56 games (109 at bats).

LaHair reportedly turned down a chance to play in Japan last year for a shot to be the Cubs’ starting first baseman. According to multiple reports, LaHair will try to continue his professional career in Japan next season.

Bryan LaHair’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Carlos Gutierrez
The Cubs acquired Carlos Gutierrez off waivers from the Twins on October 24. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated Anthony Recker for assignment. Recker was picked up by the Mets the next day.

Gutierrez was assigned to Triple-A Iowa and should receive a non-roster invite to big league camp.

Carlos Gutierrez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Christian Villanueva, Logan Watkins, Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack
The Cubs added four players to the 40-man roster on Tuesday … infielders Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins as well as right handed pitchers Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack. All four players were eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they were not added to the 40-man roster prior to Tuesday’s deadline. One notable omission was Nick Struck. The Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year was not added to the 40-man roster and will be eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft on December 6. RHP Frank Batista and LHP Austin Kirk were also left off the 40-man and are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

The Cubs acquired Christian Villanueva from Texas in the Ryan Dempster deal. Villanueva is known more for his glove than his bat right now. The 21-year old third baseman put together a .250/.337/.452/.789 line in 25 games with the D-Cubs after the trade. Villanueva hit five doubles and four home runs in 95 plate appearances and is expected to begin the 2013 season with Double-A Tennessee.

Christian Villanueva’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Logan Watkins was the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year. Watkins had a good year with the Smokies and put together a .281/.383/.422/.805 line with 20 doubles, 11 triples and nine home runs. Watkins continued opening eyes in a short time in the AFL and is very similar to the Cubs’ current second baseman, Darwin Barney.

Logan Watkins’ Page on Baseball-Reference

Just last year Trey McNutt was considered the top pitching prospect in the Cubs system but injuries and ineffectiveness pushed McNutt to the pen last season. McNutt struggled to the tune of a 9-8 record with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 34 games, 17 starts. The debate when it comes to McNutt has always been will he be a starter or a reliever. Scouts felt that McNutt’s power arm fit better in the backend of a bullpen than in a rotation. McNutt finished last season pitching out of the Smokies’ pen and was 4-1 in 17 relief appearances with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP (26 strikeouts and 14 walks in 28 1/3 innings).

Trey McNutt’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Robert Whitenack started turning a lot of heads at the end of the 2010 season and carried the previous year’s success into 2011. But after a promotion to Double-A Tennessee, Whitenack injured his elbow during a game and ended up having Tommy John surgery. Whitenack returned to the mound last season, nearly a year to the day of his surgery, and struggled through the season … but at least he was able to pitch. Whitenack was 0-1 in four starts in August with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP.

Robert Whitenack’s Page on Baseball-Reference

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  • calicub

    And Bruce Levine delivers again..

    Neil do you see anymore moves coming today?

    I was expecting maybe Coleman and Stewart would be removed…

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      It appears they are done. Something could still happen tonight but that does not appear to be the case.

      • calicub

        thanks neil.

        Kudos to the speed at which you pump these reports out

  • SuzyS

    Just speculation…but stewart does play excellent defense at 3rd….and a lot of teams are seeking 3rd baseman this year.
    I’m thinking the Cubs DON’T release Stewart…Although this is not an exciting play.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Suzy, I am beginning to think the same … see my reply to Tony.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Sorry guys, give me just a little bit … working on the report.

  • Aaron

    Loux for Brigham….WOW!!! Even if it was in part because they misled the Cubs on his injury and this is some sort of compensatory deal for that, it’s …..WOW….I did not expect that, and kudos to Team Theo for this.

    This might be their 2nd best deal (FA or trade) for a pitcher with Vizcaino being the obvious choice for best move yet.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I agree Aaron, excellent move.

    • P-Town Town

      Yeah, I know Loux is missing an elbow ligament and all, but he pitched well enough without it become a #1 draft pick. How we swept him out from under the Rangers, even after he won Southern League pitcher of the year, is some kind of awesome in my opinion.

  • Tony_Hall

    Jeremy Guthrie 3 years $25M

    Give you an idea of the SP market this year.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8656083/jeremy-guthrie-kansas-city-royals-signs-three-year-deal

    • SuzyS

      Loux seems almost too good to be true….BUT…I read a quick statement that the Cubs moved Brigham off the 40 man roster in the trade and Loux did Not need to be protected….Why is that??? Because of his injury concerns????

      • Tony_Hall

        Only 2 years so far in the minors for Loux.

        • SuzyS

          Brent and Tony…Thanks for the quick info.

          Neil…another fantastic job…Thanks.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Tony and Brent are right … and thank you

      • brent carmona

        I believe he has only been playing ball for two years. If a player has been in the minors for five years he is eligible for the rule 5 draft

        • Tony_Hall

          There is a little more to it.

          Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft who are not on their major league organization’s 40-man roster and:

          – were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or

          – were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.

          • brent carmona

            Thanks tony, the cool part is, not only did we get loux BUT we saved a extra spot on the 40 man , sweet stuff

          • Tony_Hall

            That is a pretty good move by our front office. Just as I was expecting to see them do.

            Loux will be on the 40 man roster because they want to bring him up to Wrigley, prior to needing to be protected from the Rule V draft.

            Let’s face it, those are the kind of players we want on the 40 man, versus guys who have spent the 4 or 5 years in the minors and still haven’t made it out of the lower levels.

  • Tony_Hall

    Looking at the 40 man roster and the list of guys who are going to the minors.

    Hitters (8)
    BJAX, Soler, Szczur, Lake, Vitters, Villanueva, Watkins, Clevenger

    Pitchers (9)
    Cabrera, Castillo, Coleman, Concepcion, Raley, Rusin, Vizcaino, McNutt, Whitenack

    That is 17 of the 40 spots on the 40 man roster. That only leave 23 spots for the 25 man roster. Plus they, in theory, still need to add another utility infielder, a starting CF or RF, and a SP. Plus 1 more spot for the Rule V draft, most likely.

    That means that either some of the guys I listed above will make the 25 man roster, or they will be released or traded still.

    • SuzyS

      Coleman and Concepcion stick out like sore thumbs. There’s only six million reasons for Concepcion, (but not much else), to be on the roster.
      It’s still early in the hot stove….I’m sure that between now and ST there will still be quite a few moves made.
      Judging from the aborted Dempster deal and now the Brigham/Loux deal…it seems we might actually have some good negotiators in the F/O.

      At least it appears that we don’t have to worry about any dinners with Milton Bradley.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        1 season in the minors isn’t enough to judge Concepcion.

        • Tom U

          Dave Sappelt with a two-run homer for Bravos de Margatita in the VWL.

        • Tony_Hall

          He was very likely to clear waivers for the $3M price tag still attached to him. But there must be more to the story.

  • Tom U

    I know this will be of great interest to Paul. Tony Campana has his first start for Leones del Caracas in the VWL tonight.

  • Joker

    LaHair…..as much opposite field power as anyone in the game. Lol

  • ChadAudio

    Disappointed to see Coleman over Struck… yuck. That’s unfortunate. Buried under this fact and the Loux acquisition, is the idea that LaHair would have to go to Japan. Why?

    LaHair has good numbers against righties and actually had good numbers as a pinch hitter. Surely he could get an MLB bench job. somewhere.

    • Tony_Hall

      Maybe he wanted to go to Japan. The player does have a say in this, and if he was going to be on the bench, maybe going to Japan, for more money as well, is what he wants to do.

      • ChadAudio

        You may be right Tony – I would love to hear from him what he wanted (of course wherever he ends up he’ll tell the press it’s what was best).

        I just find it surprising that after all of those years in the minors, he would have decide he had just as much opportunity and money if he was a bench player for an MLB team for a year… just seems strange.

  • ChadAudio

    Would you rather have Figgins or Stewart at 3B? Just curios… I think Stewart for the defense but wouldn’t Seattle foot the bill if you pickup Figgins?

    • calicub

      chone is way too old

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Okay, from what I’m hearing I’m blown away by this Loux deal. This almost sounds too good to be true. Where do the haters stand on this? 1967, Tex or Rip, what’s your opinion? And I’m serious and not trying to instigate an argument. I just want to hear the other side and someone who can paint this deal as actually being our front office getting fleeced. I am an eternal optimist concerning the Cubs but there has to be a catch right?

    • Aaron

      “Where do the haters stand on this? 1967, Tex or Rip, what’s your opinion? And I’m serious and not trying to instigate an argument.”

      I think if you had to do it all over again, you probably wouldn’t have posted it, as it makes you sound petty.

      I hope Tex, Rip and 1967 ignore your statement, but let’s just analyze this deal for a second.

      Personally, I love the deal. I don’t love the injury history, but yet Brigham was clearly the lesser pitcher and was injured anyhow. However, upon further examination, someone posted something very interesting over at TCR that makes a lot of sense.

      In a nutshell, they said the Loux deal wasn’t so much to rectify the Brigham injury as it was the deal ALL ALONG, and the only reason Brigham was included was due to 40-man roster concerns. They had to get rid of someone to take on someone. Loux wasn’t on the 40-man. That makes a lot of sense, because even with diminished trade value, Soto was surely worth more than just Brigham and a PTBNL or cash.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        I appreciate your reply.

        I didn’t mean to sound petty and truly wasn’t trying to take a shot at anyone. Judging by the posts I read I don’t think any of those guys would take offense with being called “haters.” I used the term to invite a comment from anyone else that trends negative regarding moves made by Team Theo. Those were just 3 names that jumped to mind. Maybe not Rip so much.

        I appreciate what everyone on this site has to say good and bad. It’s entertaining and good to hear both sides. I do get tired of the vitriol and name calling but who am I to judge because apparently I just stooped to that level…my bad.

        • Aaron

          LOL…no worries, just wanted to call you out on it, because…c’mon, it was a statement that wasn’t thought out very well, wouldn’t you agree?

          I agree about the name-calling, etc. It needs to stop. Good, healthy debate is always good, and I wish everyone could do that.

          For old-timers on this site, they can probably recall a time where i was very argumentative, and stepped over the line on several occasions.

          As Brian always used to say (still does), let’s stay classy.

          I appreciate your thoughts, just FYI…just thought you should know how it might’ve come across

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I guess, using the edit function would come a little late at this point, eh? LOL

    • Tony_Hall

      A little strong on the language side (haters…really), but I think everyone gets your point.

      I agree though, would love to hear someone tear this apart, even if you look at original deal and make it Loux and PTBNL for Soto, this looks like a lot of upside in place of a catcher that was getting expensive and not producing, that we already had his replacement.

  • Aaron

    Now that reserve lists have been made, I guess we all can speculate on who might be selected from the Cubs. Here would be my list in order of likelihood:

    Batista
    AJ Morris
    Antigua
    Kirk
    Rosario
    Peralta
    Bour

    The thing that’s always difficult to predict with the Rule 5 is who everyone else has available. It’s still early, and lists are unofficial, but a lot of the big names like Santos Rodriguez, Leury Garcia, and Michael Ynoa, have already been protected. Most of the time, teams will take pitchers with high upside…usually power arms, though sometimes a soft-tosser with good numbers will get picked up. It’s rare that position players like Hamilton (which is why I was so upset with Hendry that year when the Cubs so obviously needed OF help), Flaherty, M Gonzalez, Uggla, will be left unprotected, because teams typically don’t waste selections on position players….but pitchers are an entirely different thing. Teams are usually able to keep pitchers (regardless if they’re starters or relievers) the entire year on their active roster, because they can find little injuries that you can’t normally find for position players, and keep them on the DL. It’s why the Cubs have lost pitchers like Veal and Sisco in the past. Only Veal has a decent future at this point though.

    I realize that Batista, Antigua, and Kirk don’t throw all that hard, but they have good stats, and have an ability to get guys out. Antigua also has both starting and relieving experience (and is a lefty). I’m pretty worried that teams will take a chance on Peralta and Rosario though, much like the Cubs did with Lendy Castillo.

  • Tony_Hall

    Do you think they are done as far as protecting guys, or could they still be waiting out another trade before doing anything else?

    Coleman still being on the 40 man is surprising. I would think swapping Struck for Coleman would make sense, similar players and all.

    Does Stewart still being on the 40 man, show that someone else will pick him up if they try to release him and bring him back on a much lesser deal?

  • calicub

    beat me too it.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Sorry Tony. I wanted to get info up about Barret Loux. This is a good pickup.

    They could be working on something with Coleman, but that does not appear to the case. I do not understand leaving Coleman on the 40-man roster. I am with you, I would rather have Struck protected than Coleman still there.

    As for Stewart, they must be willing to tender him a contract for next season. He will not make a lot of improvement over the next 10 days and they could have been working on a deal that did not happen. With the lack of third basemen out there, they could have gauged the market and thought someone would pick him up.

  • Tony_Hall

    Absolutely no apologies needed. You always amaze me when activity is happening, how on top of all the info you are, and still get back to all of us on our questions.

    To me then, Stewart is our starting 3B next year. Barring a trade to bring someone in, as they are not going to sign a free agent at this point to play 3B.

    I am hoping they are still trying to trade Coleman or someone else and will make that swap of Struck for Coleman later tonight if it doesn’t happen.

  • Aaron

    Coleman, Putnam, Concepcion, and Stewart need to be let go tonight….I feel bad for those guys, as they’re probably all married, or have families they need to support, etc., but that’s the nature of the game, and they chose to play it, so…

    Let’s address each of these guys individually:

    Coleman-had multiple stints and the MLB level, and still couldn’t figure things out. He’s a great athlete, and by all accounts, has a great attitude, and has done everything expected of him, but he’s a quad-A player, and guy that pitches to contact, and his changed delivery (where he turns his back slightly to the hitter) was seen by some as a last ditch effort to salvage his career.
    *WHY HE SHOULD GO: Cubs now have Loux, Cabrera, Bowden, Dolis (though not so much anymore), as guys that could be a swingman type, who have started and relieved in the past.

    Putnam-a guy that once was said to have above average stuff and closer potential, he’s become just an average reliever whose stuff hasn’t matched results. 3.90 ERA in the minors, 9.1 hits/9 IP….no thank you
    *WHY HE SHOULD GO: If he was so valuable to begin with, other teams would’ve picked him up, and the Indians never would’ve let him go. (see guys listed above as further reason)

    Concepcion-mid 80’s, occasionally touching 88 mph. He’s lefty. The Cubs can afford to risk losing him by DFA, because of his salary (believed to be around $6 million). No team in their right mind would claim him, considering he is coming back from mono. He’s essentially the same as Hayden Simpson, but Cuban and lefty.
    *WHY HE SHOULD GO: Rusin and Raley are still on the roster

    Stewart-On the plus side, he’s a lefty hitting 3B with power, though it’s been several years since that was on display and it’s debatable whether or not that was due to his wrist. He’s also seen as a bad teammate, having abandoned the entire team after he went on the DL. He also went to Twitter to basically say he wasn’t expecting to be back. Oh, and his hitting still sucks, after he was thought to be a bounce back candidate. Meanwhile, my favorite sleeper in the whole organization, LeMahieu, will continue to haunt the FO for years to come…but I’m not bitter :)
    WHY HE SHOULD GO: Valbuena is already on the roster, makes less money, and plays more positions. They’re essentially the same player

  • ChadAudio

    I agree with most of what you are saying, but I think I’d rather have Stewart on the opening day roster then Valbuena. Also… I don’t believe in Concepcion, but it’s just too early to give up on him just yet (the other two can go though).

  • Tony_Hall

    I agree with you on Coleman, thought they would swap out Struck for Coleman. Though I don’t believe Struck is the kind of pitcher that stands out in the Rule V.

    Putnam – The argument that other teams would have picked him up, and the Indians never would’ve let him go, just doesn’t hold water. On waivers the Cubs would have been the top NL team (I believe the Astros would now select as a AL team) and the rest of the NL never got a chance on him.

    Concepcion has $3M left and I agree they should have tried to sneak him through, as a horrible 1st year and the money makes it likely no one would claim him. But we don’t know if there is language in his contract that doesn’t allow this.

    Stewart is our 3B for next year. They have looked at free agency and the trade market, and if they didn’t release him last night, they are feeling he is going to be healthy enough to be our 3B. Stewart and Valbuena are not the same players at all.

  • ChadAudio

    That being said, I’d still rather have struck then Concepcion (just think it should be Coleman instead).

  • DWalker

    With the resources this front office now has to evaluate players that wasn’t in place before, plus having had time and access to monitor his progress, they must be seeing things they still like. a wrist injury like his is nothing to sneeze at apparently, and they can’t be happy he tried to tough it out like he did; so him not being cut is a good indication th surgery and recovory are going well enough to at least make him a contender fro the black hole at third.