The Cubs have designated catchers Erick Castillo and Tyler Payne for assignment, as relayed by Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter link). Additionally, Johneshwy Fargas, Tyler Ladendorf and Joe Biagini — each of whom were selected to the majors as COVID-19 replacements — have been removed from the 40-man roster and returned to Triple-A Iowa.
Castillo and Payne are both longtime organizational veterans who got late-season cameos with Willson Contreras dealing with a hip issue. Both 28-year-olds got their first big league calls in the last week of the regular season, with Castillo picking up a couple of hits. Neither player was regarded as a high-level prospect and neither has a strong offensive track record in the minors. It’s not surprising they were removed from the roster rather quickly, then, although both did at least get into an MLB game.
Both Castillo and Payne will go on waivers in the coming days. Should they pass through unclaimed, they’d each have the right to elect minor league free agency as players with seven-plus seasons of minor league experience. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either player re-sign with the Cubs on a minors pact for 2022, as they’ve each only played in the Chicago organization throughout their pro careers.
Fargas, Ladendorf and Biagini are all soon to become minor league free agents themselves. That trio was brought up at the end of the year while the Cubs dealt with coronavirus spread in the clubhouse. Players selected as COVID replacements needn’t be passed through waivers to be removed from the 40-man, although they’ll all have the requisite minor league service time to test the open market this winter anyhow.