The catcher is expected Chicago Cubs prospect Miguel Amaya, require Tommy John surgery. The team believes that surgery is “imminent.” Amaya “is expected to have Tommy John surgery and start a rehab program next month“.
Regardless of when the surgery takes place, it’s unfortunate news for the Cubs, as Amaya is one of the organization’s best prospects. FanGraphs, Baseball America and MLB Pipeline have the 22-year-old, 1.88-meter tall player in the top eight on their respective Cubs prospect lists, and MLB Pipeline has him at number four within the organization:
Amaya was added to the team’s 40-man roster two years ago to protect him from that year’s Rule 5 draft. At the time, he had only climbed up to High-A -Class A High-, but the club felt good enough about his future to give him a spot on the roster despite his distance from the majors.
The Panamanian has often earned high marks for controlling the running game, as well as a patient approach as a hitter. In 2019, his walk rate of 13.2% and strikeout rate of 16.8% pointed to a hitter with a competent eye and a mature approach at the plate.
The pandemic ended the minor league season in 2020, but Amaya seemed to be continuing into 2021. In 23 Double-A games, his walk rate jumped to an incredible 19.8%, though his strikeout rate also rose a bit, ending 20.8%. Despite a .215 batting average and single home run, he still posted a 117 wRC +:
He last played on June 3, being sidelined with a forearm strain that led to his upcoming surgery. Unfortunately for Amaya, her progress will now stagnate until she can regain health.
The Cubs will now have to make a decision on how to handle Amaya’s roster situation in 2022, given that he is unlikely to play much, if at all. He has already exhausted two of his three years of option, which means he would have no options if he remains on the minor league disabled list for the next year.
Alternatively, they could call Amaya and put him on the MLB inactive list. That would allow the club to retain an option that could be used in 2023, but Amaya would be entitled to Major League Baseball pay and time of service while on the disabled list. (Unless, of course, the rules are changed in the next collective agreement.)
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The Cubs are poised to have Willson Contreras behind the plate in 2022, in what will be his last season of team control. He and Amaya are the only two receivers currently on the team’s 40-man roster. If they turn to the free agent market to find an endorsement for Contreras, they will be examining a class with very limited options.