Cubs give Andrew Cashner rotation spot, will attempt to trade Carlos Silva


We have plenty of roster decisions pouring in from Arizona and Florida today. Here’s one of the more interesting ones.

According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, 24-year-old right-hander Andrew Cashner has won the final spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation.

Carlos Silva entered spring training as the self-proclaimed favorite, but he pitched his way out of the job by putting up an ugly 10.90 ERA over 17 1/3 Cactus League innings. Cashner, on the other hand, posted a 3.97 ERA and 6/7 K/BB ratio over 11 1/3 innings.

The former 2008 first-round pick compiled a 4.80 ERA and 50/30 K/BB ratio over 54 1/3 innings out of the bullpen last season. It’s a bit surprising to see Cashner win the job outright, but he’s the future and well, Silva is not.

The Cubs ultimately decided to carry rookie right-hander Carlos Mateo in their bullpen, which means Silva won’t even make the Opening Day roster.

“I told Carlos Silva there was not a spot for him unless there’s an injury between now and Opening Day,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “We will explore trade opportunities with other clubs.”

Silva will be a tough sell since he’s due to make $11.5 million this season, a portion of which is being paid by the Mariners. According to Carrie Muskat of, Silva said there’s “no chance” that he’ll accept a minor league assignment. He also took a shot at new Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins on the way out the door. Classy.

Some team will likely take a chance on Silva once he’s available at the league minimum — remember, he posted a 4.22 ERA and 80/24 K/BB ratio over 113 innings last season — but he sounds like more trouble than he’s worth right now.

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 million in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.