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The Cubs add 4 prospects to the 40-man roster, and Wilson Contreras declines the qualifying offer

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Two deadlines converged on tuesday in a way that showed where Chicago Cubs They are in their rebuilding cycle. As expected, Wilson Contreras turned down the qualifying one-year, $19.65 million offer after his representatives surveyed the market for an all-star catcher, adding another data point to what appears to be a clear separation between the free agent and the organization that originally signed him as a teen out. Venezuela. Looking ahead, the Cubs have added four prospects to their 40-man roster, bringing it to 38 by protecting Brennin Davis, Kevin Alcantara, Ben Brown and Ryan Jensen ahead of next month’s fifth-base draft.

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There are so many things that go wrong to build a championship team that you need a little bit of luck. The Cubs notably left Contreras uncovered in the Rule 5 draft after the 2014 season, when he had yet to play a game above the A-level ball, and then saw him win the Southern League title in 2015 and appear as one of the game’s picks. top odds. Contreras shook the Cubs’ rookie during the 2016 World Series campaign and established himself as one of the best catchers in franchise history. But after rounds of heavy trade rumors and emotional send-offs at Wrigley Field, it’s clear the Cubs want to go in a different direction with their striking setup and would be content to make up for their draft pick if, as expected, the Contreras signed with another team.

Contreras is not a Gold Glove fullback, but he is a solid thrower, good blocker, and hard worker with outstanding offensive skills and leadership qualities, especially with Latin American players. There are few players in today’s game who can match Contreras’ two-way abilities, general appeal and playoff experience in a mass market. Perhaps a long-term contract guarantee – after essentially going from year to year since 2009 – could be combined with Major League BaseballThe rule changes will help Contreras grow as a receiver and boost his value behind the plate. The Cubs are expected to add a veteran catcher — names like Cristian Vasquez and Omar Narváez have been discussed internally — who will share catching responsibilities with Jan Gomez next season.


Burning Davis (Photo by Daniel Cherry/MLB via Getty Images)

For all the talk about the Cubs’ big 40-man roster crisis, the club took a measured approach to adding players before Tuesday’s deadline, a reflection of the talent pool and challenges of carrying a player selected in the entire Rule 5 draft. season. Rather than make a trade to open up a spot on the 40 men, the Cubs actually traded their pitching opportunity, Alfredo Zarraga, to Tampa Bay Rays for the player / player Miles Mastropone. Mastroponi, 27, is a versatile left-handed fullback with just eight games of big-league experience and three options remaining. This step can do Zack McKinstrywhich is out of options, is superfluous, as the two are actively swapping roster spots sometime this winter.

The Cubs had a larger than usual pool of interesting prospects to evaluate, but not many players who are ready to contribute at a high level in the majors next year. However, Davis, Alcantara, Brown and Jensen are a mix of young talent from recent renewal seasons and sell-outs in the last two trade deadlines. But so far, the 40-man roster has been smooth sailing. Friday’s non-bid deadline could open up very good spots and it’s possible that the Cubs will try to sneak some players through waivers in hopes of bringing them back as non-list additions over the course of the winter.

More space needs to be created, because eventually, and more importantly, the Cubs will be aggressive in adding established talent to their roster this winter. Filling their 40-man roster with players likely to end up as deep cuts may not be a no-brainer. All it does is force them to make more difficult decisions as they continue to add free agents or players via trade.

“Patience is always a really hard thing, but it’s the thing that usually gives you more rewards in the end,” said Cubs general manager Carter Hawkins, who joined the organization 13 months ago. “I’m pleased with our development structure. Our scouting continues to improve. The young players in the system continue to improve. Aside from some unfortunate injuries, across the board a lot of our best players have made great strides. We see them impacting our club in the league here in the near future.” “You see players at the major league level making great strides. We still have a ways to go. We still have to make some big leaps. But at the same time, the future is really bright for the Cubs.”

The Cubs weighed the risk of exposing some respected players to the Rule 5 draft against liquidating some of those issues by forcing trades in order to acquire players they might not like as much. The danger is losing a player they love – a player they’ve put a lot of work into developing – for nothing. The group of Cubs prospects who will be eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft include: Chase Strumpf, Darius Hill, Jake Slaughter, Kohl Franklin, Riley Thompson, Cam Sanders, and Luis Devers.

But those internal discussions came to this conclusion: Sometimes, there can be a lot of overthinking when making these decisions, especially in the context of today’s game. A player selected in the Rule 5 draft cannot be picked all the way to the minors. Options are very valuable and teams use these mechanics freely, especially at the bottom of the list. There are also roster restrictions in that teams are not allowed to have more than 13 pitchers at a time. Unless you like a player you’ve picked – perhaps a potential starter or everyday position player – it’s hard to justify keeping an inexperienced playboy or bench player in your roster all season.

This logic is only amplified by the fact that there don’t seem to be many Tank teams going into 2023. Perhaps the Oakland A’s could be considered, but even they value options greatly and tend to try to turn things around faster than people expect. The Detroit Tigers They are coming off a terrible season and are currently grooming a new head coach in Scott Harris. But will Tigers manager AJ Hinch, who also serves as a high-ranking executive, be ready to rebuild? While not every team may be “inclusive” for 2023, fewer groups appear to be fully working on rosters for the future. Keeping a Base 5 selection all season might not have made sense, so the Cubs didn’t necessarily have to force a player onto the 40-man roster.

Once again, the narrative about this menu crisis has been overblown. If the Cubs had so many good players, they might have stayed in the playoff picture last May and won more than 74 games this year. In recent days, the Cubs have officially released Jason Heyward and created more roster space by taking nine players off waivers. While the Cubs have specific roster needs and preferences within the pools of available players, the big idea in Jed Hoyer’s front office is that the team needs to significantly upgrade talent levels in each area, and that the overall strategy can take different forms over the course of the winter.

If Davis is healthy, he will likely already have made his debut at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs couldn’t count on him to be the starting center fielder next year when running back problems wiped out most of his 2022 season at Triple-A Iowa and followed him into Arizona Fall League.

Alcántara, the 6-foot-6 outfielder, was acquired by the Cubs New York Yankees In the Anthony Rizzo trade, he won’t turn 21 until next summer. Alcántara has played in 112 games this year with Low-A Myrtle Beach, which can be a tough offensive environment for hitters, and finished with 15 home runs, 85 RBI, 14 stolen bases, and an 0.811 OPS. With his impressive collection of tools, the Cubs believe he has star-level talent.

“Kevin has an incredibly high upside,” Hawkins said. “He can be a dynamic player on both sides of the ball. He has legitimacy as well as raw strength. It’s his constant ability to improve his approach. When bowlers start to reveal some areas where he has weaknesses, his ability to make those adjustments will really dictate his ability to hit.” Its ceiling, which is really high.”

The Cubs see Brown, the 6-foot-6 pitcher the Cubs got their hands on Philadelphia Phillies In the David Robertson trade, as someone who has more than two pitches in his four seamer and slider. They are expected to add to his arsenal this winter, perhaps a deeper ground. Brown was impressive in High A with the Phillies and continued to make solid appearances once he was promoted to Double A after a trade to the Cubs. He’s a hitter with the kind of stuff that’s suddenly become mainstream in the Cubs’ system, and team officials think he’s just beginning his rise as a prospect.

“Ben has strong stuff and seems to be a bit of an initiator,” Hawkins said. “He’s got a versatile mix of performances to be able to do that. He’s done really well at the senior levels. I think of all the potential starting players, he’s definitely up there. He’s a guy we expect to make an impact on our club in the near future.”

Jensen, a 2019 first-round draft pick, is a great developmental story for the Cubs.

“He had some adversity early in the year,” said Vice President of Player Development Jared Banner. “As management we have recommended to him that the best course of action is to make some changes to his arm motion in Arizona. That is asking a lot of a pitcher to leave his ball club and leave active competition to go work on something. But really one of our areas of focus in the divisions is that sometimes The best development does not happen during matches.

Jensen bought almost the entire month of May and into June he shortened his arm in Arizona. The results weren’t perfect after his return, but it improved enough for the Cubs to protect Jensen and his power arsenal—a four-seamer touching triple figures, a fresh cutter and a solid, sweeping slider. The Cubs haven’t ruled out starting in his future, but it also appears that a multi-inning relief role may come as he continues to develop and his walk rate declines.

Davis should make his big league debut next season, assuming he stays healthy and productive. Jensen has clearly put himself on the radar as a potential relief arm for 2023. It’s possible the Browns will have an outside chance of making it to the seniors next season if he continues down this path. Alcantara is probably still a few years away, but its influence may be the greatest of the bunch. However, as exciting as the potential of this farming system may be, the hope of Hoyer and his front office is that the major league club will attract more interest in 2023 and beyond.

(Photo by Wilson Contreras: David Banks/USA Today)

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