Cubs land promising shortstop, lose three in Rule 5 Draft
Photo courtesy: ULL

Cubs land promising shortstop, lose three in Rule 5 Draft

by - Senior Writer -

While the Winter Meetings are taking center stage and realistically Shohei Otani is taking center stage, it is very easy to forget what else is happening around baseball. Lost in the madness of the winter meetings that is arguably the most underrated part of the game, the Rule 5 Draft process.

For many, the Rule 5 draft is a familiar phrase to most fans, but you must follow the game of baseball closely to be familiar with what the Rule 5 draft is. To fill those in, the Rule 5 Draft allows teams to poach players from other organizations that meet specific criteria. The Draft comes in two phases: the Major League phase and the Minor League Phase. The draft order is the reverse standings from the previous season.

The Cubs have done well in the Rule 5 draft in recent seasons, but they have also lost some names that went on to do big things for their new teams. For the Major League phase, eligibility means a player has not been added to the 40-man roster after 3-4+ years in the organization (depending on the age he was initially signed).

A team opting to make a draft pick must pay $100,000 and keep the player on their ACTIVE 26-man roster for the 2024 season (at least 90 days off the Injured List, too). If they want to remove the guy from the 26-man roster at any point, they first have to offer him back to his original team for $50,000.

For the minor league phase, eligible players are those not on the 40-man MLB roster OR 38-man AAA roster. These AAA lists aren’t public, but you can safely presume the best prospects are protected or not eligible. In the minor league phase, selections require no special 2024 rostering rules; the selected player permanently changes organizations. They’re just gone and or just added!

When it came to the major league side of the Rule 5 draft, the Cubs elected to pass and thus didn't draft anyone. That means they either didn't want anyone or they felt that none of the available players fit into the culture they are trying to create. Even though the Cubs failed to draft anyone, they were looking at possibly losing some names, but that wasn't the case, as the Cubs didn't lose anyone from their major league roster this time around. That has to be considered a win for the Cubs, but it could also be a concern as some teams may value the players in the organization less than the Cubs do.

Even if the Cubs passed on the MLB side of the Rule 5 draft, the Minor League phase was vastly different as the Cubs added Hayden Cantrelle to their minor league roster. The 25-year-old Cantrelle is a second baseman by trade and has been a part of the San Francisco Giants organization for the past few years.

What made this move make even more sense was Craig Counsell's relationship with Cantrelle as the Brewers drafted him in the fifth round of the 2020 COVID draft. He was a part of the Brewers system for over a year before getting traded to Miami in exchange for Alex Jackson. Later that season, Cantrelle was on the move again as he was traded to the Giants organization, where he has remained ever since.

Not much of a highly regarded prospect, Cantrelle has done all you can ask of him in the minors and continues to work his way up through the system. He spent the 2023 season in AA, hitting .215/.390/.305/109 wRC+ over 357 PAs. Not great numbers, but you look at the OBP and immediately realize that he is a patient hitter who works counts and takes a ton of pitches.

Not much of a hitter in terms of power, Cantrelle does offer a bit of speed, which the Cubs system has been doing a great job of adding to recent seasons. You’re unlikely to get a future big leaguer in the minor league phase, so you’re just looking for tools or upside to cover an area where you need extra bodies. Sometimes, it does net a big leaguer, though, as it did last year for the Cubs with Nick Burdi. It is a win-win situation for both sides as Cantrelle gets a look from someone else to showcase his skills while the Cubs don't have to give up much to get him.

The Cubs did, however, lose one of their minor league pieces in the Rule 5 draft as the Arizona Diamondbacks claimed INF Andy Weber. Not seen as a future piece, Weber has been a great utility player for the past few seasons but has yet to be able to unleash his full potential at the plate. Health has been an issue for him, and given the influx of infield talent the Cubs have added, this is the best-case scenario for Weber to keep his career going.

Not only did the Cubs lose Weber, but they lost fellow infielder Levi Jordan to the Reds and pitchers Adam Laskey and Sheldon Reed on consecutive picks. Jodan like Weber was another utility guy around the Double-A level, couldn’t quite get past the hump at Triple-A in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Good clubhouse guy.

Laskey was in the AFL this year, being evaluated for protection decision. Cubs clearly decided not to protect. Reed also a useful potential guy who was in the AFL last year. Not surprised they got picked.

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