The Cubs have designated righty Joe Nathan for assignment, per ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers (via Twitter). His roster spot will go to outfielder Jorge Soler, who was activated after a long DL stint.
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Nathan, 41, had only just returned to the majors after a long road back from Tommy John surgery at an advanced age. He signed a major league deal with Chicago during the season, finishing his rehab and then making three scoreless appearances, posting four strikeouts against two hits and two walks in two innings. Nathan has checked in with an average 91.5 mph four-seamer, which is just about where he sat in his last full season (2014).
The veteran has long been a late-inning presence, most recently as the Tigers’ closer. He owns a 2.88 career ERA over 919 innings, with 9.2 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9 in his lengthy run at the major league level. When Nathan blew out his ulnar collateral ligament early last year, it seemed like the end. But he has made it all the way back, and certainly seems worthy of another big league opportunity in Chicago or elsewhere.
As for Soler, today’s move marks the first time he has suited up in the majors since June 6th, when he suffered a hamstring injury. The 24-year-old is a heralded talent who has shown promise at times in the majors, but he’ll need to improve upon the .223/.322/.377 batting line he carried over his first fifty games of the season.
There have been some positives thus far for Soler. In particular, he increased his walk rate to 11.2% while driving down his strikeout rate to 23.7%, both of which are marked improvements over 2015. And his .264 BABIP provides cause to anticipate regression (though it is driven by an increasingly flyball-heavy batted ball mix). Still though, Soler has just five long balls and a .154 ISO, falling well shy of the big power numbers he carried in the upper minors and first taste of MLB action back in 2014.