Now that we’re far enough removed from the World Series, the 2020 season has officially closed and free agency is open. That goes for the minor leagues as well, where 422 players have reached the expiration of their deals and are now on the open market. You can see the full list over at Baseball America, but we’ll leave it to the Beach Boys and a Clorox subsidiary to worry about the other 409.
Wow, that may be my dumbest and most esoteric reference yet. If you have a little extra time, you may want to peruse the other names to find some who might be open to joining a new organization. It’s likely that’s what the Cubs have been doing as they seek to add depth without filling up the 40-man roster.
In any case, there are 13 players from the Cubs organization who are now free agents and can negotiate deals with other teams. They could also stick around, of course, but many of them might be looking for a fresh start.
Chicago Cubs (13): Corey Black, Erick Castillo, Eric Gonzalez, Luke Hagerty, Danny Hultzen, Ivan Medina, Jordan Minch, Erling Moreno, Tyler Olson, Eugenio Palma, Pedro Strop, Jerry Vasto, Mark Zagunis
Highlighting the baker’s dozen is longtime Cub Pedro Strop, who rejoined the organization late in the year after being released by the Reds. Strop worked out for a while at the alternate site in South Bend, but was shut down due to injury and only made it back up to Chicago to stay in his home.
Mark Zagunis is another one who’s been around for a while and seems to have peaked as sort of a AAAA player. His on-base skills have always been solid, he’s just been blocked in the outfield and never really put it together enough to force the team to keep him up.
Luke Hagerty probably has the best story of the bunch as a former Cubs draft pick who washed out due to the yips following elbow reconstruction. Then he made a wild comeback well over a decade after leaving professional ball and re-signed with the Cubs as a 37-year-old throwing triple digits. Another elbow surgery cut his fairytale short in 2019 and, though he signed a new deal with the Cubs last year, Father Time remains undefeated.
Danny Hultzen actually has a similar tale to tell, but he actually got to make good on his comeback story when he debuted last year. The lefty has battled through several injuries since his time as a top prospect with the Mariners, so here’s to hoping he’s able to make another go at it.
Jordan Minch is another notable name here, though probably not for the reasons he’d prefer. The lefty out of Purdue gained a little infamy back in June when his social media screed about his perceived poor treatment by the Cubs caught steam. Probably not the best way to ingratiate yourself to the decision-makers.
Though nothing has been mentioned explicitly, Bryan Smith of Bleacher Nation noted that several players not on the list may have signed successor contracts. That group includes Luis Lugo, Jerrick Suiter, Joe Wieland, Ryan Lawlor, Garrett Kelly, and Vance Vizcaino, with Suiter standing out because we recently ran a little story on his performance at instructs.
Cubs minor league free agents, according to @BaseballAmerica.
If we cross reference against the players that WERE eligible for free agency, it would mean the following players re-signed for 2021: Luis Lugo, Jerrick Suiter, Joe Wieland, Ryan Lawlor, Garrett Kelly, Vance Vizcaino. pic.twitter.com/uLWbGNKVnl
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) November 2, 2020
Smith goes on to mention Josh Osich and Hernán Pérez, noting that they’re not mentioned as free agents nor is he convinced they signed successor contracts. And CI’s Todd Johnson noted the peculiarity that Erling Moreno is still at instructs in Mesa despite appearing on the list of free agents.
That could stem from a lack of information since MiLB transactions aren’t necessarily tracked as closely as those at the big league level. With 422 players, maybe a few slipped through the cracks and were signed recently. Expect the Cubs to be players for several of those who truly are on the market as they look to flesh out the minor league ranks for very little cost.