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Roster moves leave Cubs and White Sox with little risk of losing top prospects in Rule 5 draft

The maneuvering by the Cubs and White Sox prior to Tuesday’s deadline to finalize 40-man rosters left them with minimal risk three weeks before the Rule 5 draft.

The Cubs, with an abundance of infielders, were able to deal third baseman Jason Vosler to the infield-needy Padres for reliever Rowan Wick. The Cubs would have risked losing Vosler to the Rule 5 draft if they didn’t add him to the 40-man roster.

The White Sox, stocked with left-handed relievers Aaron Bummer, Jace Fry and Caleb Frare on their 40-man roster, placed Ian Clarkin on waivers. Clarkin’s sharp curveball apparently was enough to entice the Cubs to claim him and hope he can fulfill the expectations attached to his billing as a 2013 first-round pick of the Yankees.

As expected, the Cubs added left-hander Justin Steele to the 40-man roster but didn’t add pitchers Trevor Clifton and Erik Leal. Clifton had a 3.43 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Iowa, but the Cubs’ 40-man roster had little wiggle room with the likes of Adbert Alzolay, Alec Mills and Jen-Ho Tseng ahead of him.

Leal, 23, hasn’t pitched above Class A but didn’t allow a run in the Arizona Fall League until his sixth and final appearance. One scout who saw half of Leal’s AFL appearances thought he needed more minor-league seasoning and wouldn’t be worth the $100,000 fee for drafting him in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 13.

The retooled Sox had plenty of room to add pitchers Dylan Cease, Kodi Medeiros and Jordan Stephens and catcher Seby Zavala to their 40-man roster. They still have two roster spots open to sign free agents.

The Sox didn’t protect pitcher Spencer Adams, 22, their second-round pick in the 2014 draft. Adams threw 159 innings at Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham, and he posted a 3.19 ERA in 15 starts at Charlotte.

But Adams struck out only 95 while walking 48, so the Sox felt not adding him to the 40-man roster was a low-risk move.

Players who signed their first professional contract at 18 are required be added to a 40-man roster by the end of their fifth professional season or they became eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Players who sign at 19 or older must be protected on a 40-man roster by the completion of their fourth professional season.

Teamsare required to keep a Rule 5 draft pick on the major-league 25-man roster for the entire season or offer to return him to his original team for $50,000.

Twitter @MDGonzales

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