The Cubs made a flurry of moves ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, reshaping the roster’s margins with a variety of deals. There will be additional reshuffle over the next few days as the team add or activate from the injured roster. Perhaps the strangest footnote is that the most obvious and useful move involved removing a player from the active roster.
Scroll to the end for a tl version; dr.
Cameron Maybin is not a very sexy addition, but his biggest contribution to the Cubs’ overall depth might be pushing Albert Almora Jr. to the South Bend alternate site. It’s confusing to at least one blogger that this latest decision wasn’t made a long time ago, but there’s a reason I’m typing on a keyboard in my mom’s basement while the executives of the team earn a lot of money.
Andrew Chafin’s additions (More info here) and Josh Osich (After) didn’t move anyone off the 28-man roster, as Tyler Chatwood walked over to the IL to make room for the latter and Ian Miller was assigned on a posting to host the former. There will have to be another move once Chafin leaves the IL, but it might not be for a week or two.
Speaking of leaving IL, Kris Bryant is expected to be back with the Cubs “pretty soon” according to general manager Jed Hoyer. Although Hoyer is only saying that it is “not out of sight” 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 will open their series with the Pirates.
This actually brings us back to Chatwood, who had an MRI scan on his right elbow which Hoyer said offered “a lot of good news.” What exactly that means is unclear at this point, although it is still possible for him to return this season.
The biggest move of the borderline season came on Sunday, when the Cubs acquired José Martinez for a pair of PsTBNL or cash considerations. The move allowed third string receiver Jose Phegley to be named to make room as Martinez will take on the role of DH usually occupied by one of the top two receivers. This is the only deal the Cubs have made in the past two days for a player with very specific skills.
Which brings me back to my oft-repeated rant about why Miller wasn’t used at all, especially given the Cubs’ lack of speed. In Maybin, they have a better hitter than Almora which gives them a little more speed and less defense. These marginal differences are largely mitigated by the limited playing time, so I’m still not sure why the Cubs would be willing to part ways with shortstop Zack Short in exchange for Maybin.
Alas, my job description does not require me to understand or agree with every move that is made. Ultimately, the Cubs added depth to the margins and bolstered a reliever box that needs to do a better job when it comes to taking out left-handed hitters. They also had to show existing players that they were ready to improve the roster even on a limited budget.
The Cubs didn’t improve much by the deadline, but they sure didn’t get any worse. So, uh, mission accomplished I guess. With Bryant’s return and the inevitable 60% improvement in their top five hitters, they didn’t need to get a lot of trades.
In: LHP Andrew Chafin, LHP Josh Osich, OF Cameron Maybin, DH José Martinez, Kris Bryant (probably), Steven Souza Jr. (soon)
Outside: Albert Almora Jr. (option), Josh Phegley (DFA), Ian Miller (DFA), Tyler Chatwood (IL), Zack Short (negotiated), up to 4 PsTBNL, Cash Considerations