The Cubs have placed infielder Matt Duffy on the 10-day injured list due to a lower back strain and selected the contract of infielder Patrick Wisdom in his place, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times). In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Wisdom, Chicago has designated right-handed reliever Jason Adam for assignment.
The veteran Duffy, 30, has proven to be one of the best minor league signings any team made this winter. He’s stepped in frequently at third base for the Cubs — Kris Bryant has spent more time in the outfield as a result — and delivered a very solid .278/.378/.356 slash through his first 106 plate appearances.
While he clearly hasn’t hit for much power, Duffy has been a tough strikeout (17 percent), drawn 11 walks (10.4 percent) and gone 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts while playing strong defense. Suffice it to say, he’s been an important piece so far for a Cubs team that, at 24-22, sits one and a half games back in the NL Central.
Adam’s DFA is the culmination of a highly unfortunate sequence. The right-hander was a bright spot in the Chicago bullpen last season and got out to a nice start in 2021. However, he was placed on the Covid-19 list after Chicago’s bullpen coach tested positive, and Adam was shelled for five runs without recording an out in his return. Adam was optioned out to Triple-A Iowa, where he suffered a dislocated ankle while shagging fly-balls prior to a recent minor league game. The injury required surgery that could put an end to his season.
Injured players can’t be placed on outright waivers, so there’s a good chance that Adam’s DFA will ultimately result in the Cubs requesting unconditional release waivers on him. It’s common, but not a given, for players in this situation to quickly re-sign a minor league deal with the organization (as we saw with the Tigers and righty Franklin Perez a couple weeks back).
It’ll be interesting to see whether another club tries to find a way to bring Adam into the fold despite the fact that he may not pitch again in 2021. From 2019-20, he pitched a combined 35 1/3 innings of 3.06 ERA ball between the Blue Jays and Cubs, striking out 26.2 percent of opponents. His 2021 season in Chicago was particularly intriguing, as he punched out a whopping 36.1 percent of his opponents. Adam is something of a Statcast darling, thanks largely to a 99th-percentile spin rate on a four-seamer that has averaged just shy of 95 mph over the past three seasons.
Wisdom, 29, is an experienced Triple-A slugger whose start with the Cubs in 2021 has been a mixed bag. He’s just 4-for-25 in a tiny sample of 34 plate appearances but has slugged three home runs, hit a double, drawn six walks and been plunked by a pair of pitches. The resulting .160/.353/.560 slash is rather unusual, but he’s a career .250/.329/.479 hitter in parts of five Triple-A seasons. He’s homered four times in 88 MLB plate appearances but has an overall .219/.299/.397 batting line with a massive 38.6 percent strikeout rate.