The Cubs made a flurry of moves ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, reshaping the fringes of the roster with a variety of deals. There will be additional shuffling over the next few days as the team adds to or activates from the injured list. Perhaps the strangest footnote is that the most obvious and helpful move involved a player being removed from the active roster.
Scroll to the end for a tl;dr version.
Cameron Maybin isn’t a very sexy addition, but his biggest contribution to the Cubs’ overall depth may be pushing Albert Almora Jr. to the alternate site at South Bend. It’s puzzling to at least one blogger that the latter decision wasn’t made a long time ago, but there’s a reason I’m tapping away at a keyboard in my mom’s basement while team execs make the big bucks.
The additions of Andrew Chafin (more info here) and Josh Osich (more) didn’t displace anyone from the 28-man roster, as Tyler Chatwood headed to the IL to make room for the latter and Ian Miller was designated for assignment to accommodate the former. There will have to be another move once Chafin comes off the IL, but that might not be for another week or two.
Speaking of coming off the IL, Kris Bryant should be back with the Cubs “fairly soon” according to GM Jed Hoyer. Though Hoyer would only say it’s “not out of the picture” for Bryant and/or Steven Souza Jr. to return by Tuesday, sources have indicated that the former MVP will likely return to the lineup when the Cubs open their series with the Pirates
That actually brings us back to Chatwood, who underwent an MRI on his right elbow that Hoyer said offered “largely good news.” Exactly what that means isn’t clear at this point, though it’s still possible for him to return this season.
The biggest move of the deadline season came Sunday, when the Cubs acquired José Martinez for a pair of PsTBNL or cash considerations. That move resulted in third-string catcher Jose Phegley being designated to make room since Martinez will assume the DH role typically occupied by one of the top two catchers. This is the one deal the Cubs made over the last two days for a player with a very specific skillset.
Which brings me back to my oft-repeated rant about why Miller wasn’t utilized at all, especially given the Cubs’ dearth of speed. In Maybin, they have a better hitter than Almora who gives them slightly more speed and worse defense. Those marginal differences are largely mitigated by limited playing time, so I’m still unsure why the Cubs would be willing to part with shortstop Zack Short in exchange for Maybin.
Alas, my job description doesn’t require me to understand or agree with all the moves that are made. In the end, the Cubs added depth at the fringes and shored up a bullpen that needs to do a better job when it comes to retiring left-handed hitters. They also needed to show the existing players that they’re willing to improve the roster even on a limited budget.
The Cubs didn’t get much better at the deadline, but they definitely didn’t get worse. So, uh, mission accomplished I guess. Bryant coming back and the inevitable improvement from 60% of their top five batters, they didn’t need to get much in trade.
In: LHP Andrew Chafin, LHP Josh Osich, OF Cameron Maybin, DH José Martinez, Kris Bryant (probably), Steven Souza Jr. (soon)
Out: Albert Almora Jr. (optioned), Josh Phegley (DFA), Ian Miller (DFA), Tyler Chatwood (IL), Zack Short (traded), up to 4 PsTBNL, Cash Considerations