The Cubs made a series of moves Saturday to reshape both the 28- and 40-man rosters, with at least one coming as a surprise. We knew moves were coming once it was announced that Mark Leiter Jr., who was not on the 40-man, would be starting against the Rockies. But the Cubs didn’t just made a single corresponding transaction.
In order to clear space in the active roster, Alfonso Rivas has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Cory Abbott has been designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man, which is a surprise given he was the club’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019. However, Abbott had a rough go of it last year and has fallen behind several other pitchers in the organizational depth chart.
I had initially thought Abbott would get Saturday’s start since he was already rostered and had made seven MLB appearances with one start last year. He was really stung by walks and homers last year, both with the Cubs and at Triple-A, so they clearly are not confident in his ability to get big league outs. Perhaps the Cubs are hoping he can clear waivers and remain in the organization.
In another procedural move, outfielder Greg Deichmann was DFA’d to make room for lefty Locke St. John, who was then optioned to Iowa. Expect to see more of these moves, especially with Wade Miley and Alec Mills coming off of the IL soon. Neither will require a 40-man spot, but they’ll squeeze pitchers from the active roster and there will be downstream effects.