The Cubs have just a few days before the November 20 deadline to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. With 79 players eligible for selection, that means making some tough decisions when it comes to which of those are worthy of being placed on the 40-man roster. We have profiled several players since the season ended, but it’s clear there isn’t going to be room for all of them.
Based on the extremely accurate results of a recent Twitter poll, the general belief is that the Cubs will opt to protect no more than four of the players in question.
Question of the Week
The deadline for protecting prospects from the Rule V Draft is Wednesday the 20th. The Cubs currently have eight 40-man roster spots open. How many prospects do you think the Cubs will protect ?
— Todd ⚾️? (@CubsCentral08) November 16, 2019
Catcher Miguel Amaya is one of the Cubs’ top prospects and he’s a sure thing to get selected for the 40-man, so that leaves us with three spots. PJ Higgins, another catcher, looks to be rounding into form as his bat-to-ball skills continue to play at the higher levels of the minors. He can also play three infield positions, so that flexibility is a big mark in his favor.
Shortstop Zack Short is a favorite of mine and, even though he probably profiles as a bench guy, he offers defensive wizardry and some pop while playing every infield position other than first. Righty Tyson Miller is one arm that could be added, but that’s based more on what he did at Tennessee than at Iowa Last summer.
Dakota Mekkes struggled early at Triple-A this season after dominating at every previous step of the way since being drafted. He settled down as the season wore on, however, learning to rely more on his secondaries in two-strike counts. He’s another one who once seemed like a sure bet to make the 40-man, though the odds might be closer to 50/50 at this point.
It’s anybody’s guess after that, since there are plenty of players who could be surprise additions. Southpaw Jordan Minch really looked good in the AFL Trent Giambrone has shown flashes of brilliance, and even Oscar De La Cruz is a possibility. I would love to see Michael Rucker and Bailey Clark chosen due to their MLB-quality stuff, but the Cubs tend to overlook guys who can actually do the job versus doing it in style.
Heading into Wednesday, I don’t feel confident enough to really go above four picks for the Cubs. Most of the Cubs’ Rule 5-eligible position players don’t project to be much more than bench guys. As of now, only Amaya stands out as a legit candidate to play every day in the majors.
Most of the pitchers are bullpen arms and the Cubs have shown the ability to go and find those guys on the cheap over the past few years. Rowan Wick, Danny Hultzen, and Kyle Ryan all fit that bill and are all young enough that they shouldn’t be wearing out soon. That takes away a lot of the risk the organization might otherwise feel in keeping players off the roster.
When Wednesday comes and the names are released, we can begin to analyze what it means for the Cubs moving forward. We can also look at who could be taken by other teams in the Rule 5 Draft.