With the holidays in the rearview mirror, it should be extremely busy throughout the game in the coming days and weeks. There is an unexpected and large number of big names still unsigned and available in free agency, and reports suggest trades could be made throughout baseball once players sign and teams scramble to fill their needs before Spring Training.
As for the Cubs, right now the big changes to the roster appear to be done. That is until a team makes an offer that is too good for the front office to refuse.
It’s believed the Cubs would like to add depth to the bullpen and a fourth or fifth outfielder that can be used as a defensive replacement before Spring Training.
There are several rather important dates quickly approaching, plus the Cubs Convention kicks off in just 11 days. Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 19 and the Cubs first game of the spring is less than two months away, 59 days.
The Cubs have a lot of work to do before pitchers officially start throwing to catchers in 46 days.
The Cubs begin the New Year with a full 40-man roster. If the team signs a player to a Major League contract, a move will have to be made to clear space on the roster before the player can be officially signed.
Same goes if the front office makes a trade involving a player currently on his team’s 40-man roster. In other words, unless a player or players are included in a deal is not on the Cubs’ roster, space on the 40-man will have to be created.
The 31st annual Cubs Convention begins a week from Friday (Jan. 15-17). The team should release information that includes a schedule and a list of current and previous players that will attend the event this week.
Weekend passes for the Convention sold out months ago.
The 1060 Project
Phase Two of the 1060 Project is underway. Multiple updates before the holidays indicated there have not been any delays and everything scheduled for completion this off-season will be ready by the first game at Wrigley on April 11.
Phase Two includes the new state-of-the-art 30,000 square foot clubhouse. The last official update indicated construction of the clubhouse is running slightly ahead of schedule which will give the team a chance to ensure everything is working properly before the players arrive on April 10 after beginning the season on the road with games against the Angels (April 4-5) and Diamondbacks (April 7-10).
Arbitration Eligible Players
The Cubs have seven arbitration eligible players on the 40-man roster that are unsigned for next season. The Cubs already avoided arbitration with LHP Rex Brothers and LHP Clayton Richard. Brothers agreed to a one-year, $1.42 million contract for next season on Dec. 2. And Richard avoided arbitration on the same day when he signed a $2 million deal that includes a rather extensive incentives package.
The seven players that have not avoided arbitration: RHP Jake Arrieta, OF Chris Coghlan, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Adam Warren and LHP Travis Wood
The deadline for players to file for salary arbitration is Jan. 12. The big date in the process is Jan. 15, the deadline for salary arbitration figures to be exchanged. A majority of the arbitration eligible players agree to contracts with their teams prior to the late afternoon deadline.
The Cubs have not gone to arbitration with a player under the current regime. And there is not expected to be any issues getting players under contract for next season prior to an arbitration hearing.
Non-Roster Invitees and Minor League Signings
The Cubs have signed several players to minor league contracts in recent weeks that include invites to big league camp. RHP Drew Rucinski, OF Kelly Dugan, RHP Jean Machi, RHP Stephen Fife, RHP Brandon Gomes, OF Juan Perez, LHP Jack Leathersich, LHP Scott Barnes, LHP Luis Cruz and RHP Miguel Mejia reportedly received NRIs with their minor league deals.
OF Albert Almora, OF Billy McKinney, 2B/OF Ian Happ and RHP Armando Rivero should be among the prospects in camp on non-roster invites.
Players on the 40-man roster are automatically on the Spring Training roster.
The Cubs have released the full list of players that are non-roster invitees to Spring Training in late January or the first week of February the last four years.
Reports continued to suggest throughout the holidays the Cubs are talking to several teams about acquiring a controllable starting pitcher and late-inning relievers.
The Cubs have been constantly linked to three teams for pitching: Indians, Rays and Padres.
The names have not changed, reports still point to the Cubs being interested in Carlos Carrasco (Indians), Danny Salazar (Indians), Tyson Ross (Padres), Andrew Cashner (Padres), Matt Moore (Rays), Alex Cobb (Rays), Jake Odorizzi (Rays), Drew Smyly (Rays), Jake McGee (Rays) and Brad Boxberger (Rays).
The Cubs were also connected to Andrew Miller last week after the Yankees completed the deal with the Reds for Aroldis Chapman. But based on the Yankees’ asking price for Miller, the Cubs will not matchup with a trade for him any time in the near future.
Unless the front office has to include Jorge Soler in a package of players for pitching, the Cubs are expected to begin Spring Training with a starting outfield of Kyle Schwarber (left field), Jason Heyward (center field) and Soler (right field). If Soler is moved, the Cubs will be in the market for an everyday centerfielder.
Free agents such as Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, Gerardo Parra and Austin Jackson are believed to be options for the Cubs in center field.
The Cubs are still believed to be interested in acquiring OF Ender Inciarte from the Braves, but Atlanta’s asking price remains high and John Coppolella has said publicly he does not plan on trading Inciarte. The Cubs have also been linked to the Astros’ Jake Marisnick and Rockies’ centerfielder Charlie Blackmon.
Many within in the game do not think Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are done with the roster this winter. But the Cubs are in a position to sit back and see how things unfold in Spring Training.
- 6 – BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot results announced
- 9 – Single-game tickets for Cubs Spring Training games at Sloan Park go on sale
- 12 – Salary Arbitration Filing
- 15 – Salary Arbitration Figures Exchanged
- 15-17 – Cubs Convention
- 1-21 – Salary Arbitration Hearings
- 15 – End of waiver period (Nov. 11, 2015 – Feb. 15, 2016) Outright Waivers secured on or after Nov. 11, 2015 expire at 12:00pm CST on the seventh day after waivers are obtained or 4:00pm CST on Feb. 15, 2016, whichever is earlier
- 16 – Beginning of new waiver period (Feb. 16 – May 2) Outright Waivers secured on or after Feb. 16, 2016 remain in effect for 7 days or until 4:00pm CST, May 2, 2015 (the 30th day of the 2016 season), whichever is earlier. Optional Waivers secured on or after Feb. 16 remain in effect until 4:00pm CST on the 30th day of the 2016 season (May 2, 2016).
- 18 – Voluntary Reporting Date for Pitchers and Catchers
- 19 – Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training
- 23 – Voluntary Reporting Date for Position Players
- 1 – Mandatory reporting date
- 2-11 – Clubs may renew contracts of unsigned players
- 3 – Cubs Cactus League Opener vs. Brewers in Maryvale
- 4 – Cubs Cactus League Home Opener vs. Angels at Sloan Park
- 18 – Last day to request unconditional Release Waivers for a player and play only 30 days’ termination pay
- 25 – Earliest date a team may backdate placement of a player on the 15-day Major League disabled list
- 2 – Last day to request unconditional Release Waivers for a player without having to pay full 2016 salary (Players with non-guaranteed contracts released between March 19 and April 2 receive 45 days termination pay)
- 3 – Opening Day of 2016 MLB Season – All teams must reduce their active rosters to 25 players
- 4 – Opening Day vs. Angels at Angel Stadium
- 9 – First date a player placed on Major League disabled list during Spring Training may be activated
- 11 – Cubs Home Opener vs. Reds at Wrigley Field
- 13 – First date a player optioned to minors during Spring Training may be recalled (11th day of season)