Late Thursday afternoon, Jeff Passan of ESPN broke the news that over 1,000 minor league players could be released over the next few days. NBC Sports Chicago then reported that the Cubs were going to cut 30 players, though the identities of those players were not known at the time. It was also noted, however, that the Cubs were going to pay the released players through June.
Pitcher Brock Stewart and infielder Carlos Asuaje were the first two players named as part of the cuts, with the rest coming Friday afternoon via JJ Cooper of Baseball America. It was noted that the Cubs have now released a total of 50 minor league players since March.
Most of the players released were signed this past winter as minor league free agents and a few more were scheduled to be free agents at the end of this season. Jake Stinnett, Ian Rice, and Wladimir Galindo were part of that latter group. Most of the list is filled with players that were thought to be headed to Tennessee or Iowa, with only a few likely headed to Myrtle Beach.
The biggest surprise of the cuts is Oscar De La Cruz, who the Cubs converted to a reliever last summer and then re-signed this winter. The former number one prospect in the system is still relatively young, having just turned 25 in March, and could still have a bright future.
Outfielder Charcer Burks was a surprise cut considering his experience and success in spring training with the big league club the past two years. The issue for Burks was consistency at Double-A. Drafted in 2013 out of high school, Burks had yet to make it to Iowa. Stinnett, a second round pick in 2014, likewise struggled to get past Double-A Tennessee. The 28-year-old is at an advanced age for a prospect and he struggled with injuries the past two years.
While the timing is not at all unusual, it’s a bit jarring to see these cuts come in bulk fashion like this. Combined with reports of Minor League Baseball being trimmed by 42 affiliates, not to mention all the other financial unrest in the game, this isn’t a harbinger of good things to comes.
All the best to these players and the hundreds of others across the sport who may have to find new paths by which to chase their dreams.