Chicago Cubs – MLB Trade Rumors Wed, 19 Sep 2018 04:38:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cubs Shut Down Brandon Morrow Tue, 18 Sep 2018 23:44:38 +0000 The Cubs have shut down Brandon Morrow for the remainder of the 2018 season, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced to reporters Tuesday (Twitter link via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune). Morrow has been out since mid July due to a biceps injury.

Signed to a two-year, $21MM contract on the heels of a resurgent 2017 campaign, Morrow was nothing short of excellent for the Cubs when healthy enough to take the field. In 30 2/3 innings, he racked up 22 saves and posted a 1.47 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.59 HR/9 and a career-best 51.9 percent ground-ball rate.

With Morrow out, right-hander Pedro Strop has gotten the majority of the Cubs’ save opportunities, although Strop himself has recently been hobbled by a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to return until the postseason. Right-handers Steve Cishek and Jesse Chavez have each found their way into save opportunities late in the year, and it seems likely that manager Joe Maddon will go with a matchup-based committee approach down the stretch.

Gonzales tweeted earlier in the day that right-hander Allen Webster could be a candidate to come up to the Majors if Morrow is unable to return. The top prospect-turned-journeyman hasn’t been in the Majors since 2015 but has been excellent since debuting for the organization this summer — albeit in a small sample of work. Through 17 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA with an outstanding 24-to-3 K/BB ratio, one homer allowed and a ground-ball rate near 60 percent.

Brandon Morrow Could Return From DL This Week Sat, 15 Sep 2018 18:20:12 +0000 The Cubs got some good news on Brandon Morrow today, as the closer felt good after throwing a 19-pitch simulated game.  (The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma and the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan were among those who reported the news.)  Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 15 due to biceps inflammation, and as recently as 10 days ago, manager Joe Maddon expressed some doubt that Morrow would be able to pitch again this season.  In the wake of today’s simulated outing, Morrow could potentially be activated from the DL in time for at least part of the Cubs’ series against the Diamondbacks, which begins on Monday.  Morrow won’t be used as a closer right away, Maddon said, as the team will ease the righty back into action by keeping him on pitch counts and avoiding using him in back-to-back games.  Even in this limited capacity, Morrow’s impending return is nice boost for the Cubs’ postseason chances, as the veteran had a sterling 1.47 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 3.44 K/BB rate over his first 30 2/3 innings in a Chicago uniform.

Pedro Strop Out For Rest Of Regular Season Fri, 14 Sep 2018 21:38:57 +0000 TODAY: With an MRI revealing a moderate hamstring strain, Strop won’t return in the regular season,’s Carrie Muskat was among those to report on Twitter. His postseason availability remains to be seen.

YESTERDAY: Cubs reliever Pedro Strop pulled up lame after grounding into a double play late in tonight’s contest. He says he expects to miss at least a couple of weeks, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets, further depleting the late-inning ranks of the Chicago pen at a critical juncture.

Strop was only up to the plate because the heavily worked relief unit was left without other desirable options. Despite a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity, the Cubs sent the veteran hurler up in anticipation of asking him to throw a second inning to lock up a win.

As it turned out, the club won, but Strop was unable to make it back onto the hill. He and skipper Joe Maddon confirmed after the game that it’s a hamstring issue. Understandably, full details of the injury remain unknown at this time.

In large part, Strop’s recovery timeline will simply depend upon how quickly he responds. Perhaps, though, we can expect further indication as to expectations once he’s examined fully in the coming days.

The news leaves the Cubs without their first and second choices in the closer’s role. Top reliever Brandon Morrow is already on the shelf and facing an uncertain path back to the MLB roster. In his stead, Strop has increasingly operated in the ninth inning. Over twenty appearances since the return from the All-Star break, Strop has recorded 11 saves.

At this point, there’s not much to be done but to hope for the best with regard to both righties. Significant outside acquisitions, after all, aren’t a realistic possibility. (Though trades are still possible, through the revocable waiver process, any players changing hands at this juncture are not eligible to participate in the postseason.)

As with Morrow, the 33-year-old Strop is a key piece even before factoring in any added value in a closing capacity. Through 58 frames this year, Strop owns a 2.33 ERA — his fifth-straight season of sub-3.00 ERA pitching in Chicago. After all, going to the next man up still means reducing the quality of the options in the earlier innings, which could lead to increased demands on what’s already a less-than-dominant rotation.

Even if Strop is able to recover by the start of the postseason, any intervening absence will certainly impact the club’s efforts to hold off the Brewers and Cardinals in the division. That makes for an increased challenge for Maddon and his charges, though it might also lead to an even more interesting race for fans of these three teams.

Yu Darvish Undergoes Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery Wed, 12 Sep 2018 21:37:31 +0000 Right-hander Yu Darvish underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his right elbow today, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). The procedure came on the heels of a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. The surgery doesn’t impact Darvish’s timeline to return to the Cubs, as he was already down for the season due to a stress reaction in his elbow, and he’s expected to be ready for Spring Training 2019.

The operation is the latest data point in a nightmarish first season of Darvish’s six-year, $126MM contract with the Cubs. The right-hander made just eight starts for the team in 2018, missing time on the disabled list due to an assortment of arm-related injuries before news of the stress reaction in his elbow definitively brought his season to a close. Though his timeline remains unchanged, the optics won’t win Darvish any more support among a Cubs fanbase that has spent much of the season lamenting the signing as he’s struggled through his various injuries.

Neither Darvish nor fellow free-agent signee Tyler Chatwood (three years, $38MM) has paid dividends for the Cubs, though Chicago nonetheless holds a two-game lead over the Brewers in the National League Central with 18 games left to play. Though their high-priced pair of offseason additions didn’t pan out (at least not yet), president of baseball ops Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer were proactive on the trade market in looking to bolster the club this summer, most notably adding lefty Cole Hamels and infielder Daniel Murphy in a pair of swaps. Hamels, in particular, has been a godsend for skipper Joe Maddon’s rotation, hurling 50 2/3 innings of 1.42 ERA ball through the same number of starts Darvish made (eight).

Chicago still owes the 32-year-old Darvish a hefty $101MM over the next five seasons as part of his front-loaded deal, so the organization has little choice but to hope that an extended period of rest will allow him to return to form, at least to some extent, in 2019 and beyond. Darvish did average 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in 2018, and his velocity was right in line with its previous levels, so there’s some cause for optimism. He’ll need to rein in his control (4.7 BB/9, 1.58 HR/9) moving forward if he’s to truly be an asset in the rotation, though.

Drew Smyly Will Not Return In 2018 Tue, 11 Sep 2018 15:04:00 +0000 The Cubs decided yesterday that lefty Drew Smyly will not make it back onto the MLB roster this season, as Jesse Rogers of was among those to report (Twitter links). Instead, he’ll focus on preparing himself for a full and healthy 2019 campaign.

Smyly, who is now 29 years of age, signed a two-year deal with the Chicago organization last winter after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2017. It includes a $10MM guarantee with $6MM in available incentives for the 2019 campaign.

There had been some hope all along that Smyly could represent a notable late-season addition. Particularly with the problems surrounding many of the team’s other key offseason pitching additions, it’d be nice to have the southpaw available. High-priced righty Yu Darvish is done for the year, while fellow rotation addition Tyler Chatwood has not worked out. In the pen, closer Brandon Morrow is still trying to get back from injury and LOOGY Brian Duensing has endured a miserable campaign.

Surely, with the division race still very much in the air, the Cubs would have given Smyly a look if he was truly prepared. He was able to make a single rehab appearance, but evidently did not respond well enough to make it worthwhile to continue pressing for a 2018 return.

Of course, the contract was signed with full knowledge that there were good odds the first season would be a wash. The Cubs hoped, mostly, that they’d recoup their investment in the 2019 campaign. It’ll be interesting to see to what extent the front office relies upon Smyly in structuring the approaching offseason. At the very least, he’ll be seen as an important part of the depth picture, in the rotation and perhaps also the bullpen, but it’ll be hard to allocate too much faith until he gets on the mound in camp. With no small amount of uncertainty in the rotation mix, the organization figures to face some tough roster questions — beginning with a decision on the team’s option over resurgent veteran Cole Hamels.

Zobrist Happy With Decision To Join Cubs Sun, 09 Sep 2018 19:38:50 +0000 After spending parts of five seasons in the big leagues, Terrance Gore finally collected his first Major League hit, notching a single during the Cubs’ 10-3 loss to the Nationals yesterday in the first game of a double-header.  Though Gore has appeared in 55 games since the start of the 2014 season, he has only 16 career plate appearances due to his exclusive usage as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive sub.  Gore’s speed made him a valuable roster piece during the Royals’ two postseason runs in 2014 and 2015, and he’ll likely see similar work for the Cubs down the stretch this season and potentially into October.

  • As you might expect, Ben Zobrist has no regrets about signing with the Cubs in the 2015-16 offseason, the veteran super-utilityman tells The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney.  The decision has already led to one World Series ring for Zobrist, and unlike his other suitors that winter (a list that includes the Giants, Mets, and Nationals), the Cubs are still postseason contenders in 2018.  Zobrist has strongly rebounded from a down year in 2017 to hit .313/.387/.458 over 443 PA for the Cubs this season, so it’s fair to say that the team is also quite satisfied in its decision giving Zobrist a four-year, $56MM deal that winter.
2018-19 Opt-Out & Player Option Decisions Fri, 07 Sep 2018 16:53:25 +0000 With Major League teams increasingly adding opt-out provisions to free-agent contracts as a means of incentivizing players to sign, there are now a handful of those decisions that impact the free-agent market every offseason. With nearly 90 percent of the season already in the books, many of the opt-out decisions/player option decisions look pretty clear cut.

Things could change over the final month, but here’s a look at where things currently stand…

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Two years, $65MM remaining): Truthfully, Kershaw is the only player with an opt-out provision in 2018 who could be called likely to exercise the clause at present. While he hasn’t been quite as dominant as usual and has spent time on the DL for a third straight year (back issues, biceps tendinitis), it’s difficult to imagine him having to take less than that $65MM sum in free agency.

In 131 1/3 innings this season, Kershaw is sporting a 2.40 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. He hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2015, but he’s still a clearly elite starter. If he does formally opt out, the Dodgers can issue a qualifying offer, though perhaps the easiest scenario would be for Los Angeles to simply extend Kershaw’s current contract to prolong his already historic Dodgers career.

David Price, Red Sox (Four years, $127MM remaining): Price is having his best season with the Red Sox, having notched a 3.60 ERA with a strikeout per inning and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched through 152 1/3 frames. His results have been solid, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where he exceeds $127MM in free agency at the age of 33. Price’s Boston tenure has been rocky at times, but it seems likely that he’ll be back in the rotation next season.

[Related: Club option decisions on starting pitchers, relievers and position players]

Jason Heyward, Cubs (Five years, $106MM remaining): Declining to opt out is little more than a formality for Heyward at this point, as he hasn’t come close to living up to his $184MM contract in Chicago through the first three seasons. To his credit, though the 29-year-old has had a nice rebound effort, hitting .275/.342/.399 with above-average defense in right field. That might make the Cubs feel better about his contract moving forward, but it won’t be enough to prompt Heyward to test free agency. His contract contains a second opt-out clause following the 2019 season, at which point he’ll have four years and $86MM remaining, but that also seems like a long shot.

Elvis Andrus, Rangers (Four years, $58MM): Andrus could be considered more of a borderline call than some on this list, but he seems likelier to stay with Texas than to opt out. The 30-year-old hasn’t had a bad season, hitting .270/.322/.396 with quality defense, but his bat hasn’t been as potent as it was in 2016-17 when he hit a combined .299/.348/.457. The downturn in offensive output might not be entirely Andrus’ fault; he did incur a broken elbow when he was hit by a pitch earlier this season — an injury that caused him to miss just over two months of action. It’s easy to imagine that injury having a lingering effect on Andrus’ swing, too.

Like Heyward, Andrus has a second opt-out clause in his contract after the 2019 season. At that point, he’ll have three years and $43MM remaining on his contract. If his bat returns to its 2016-17 levels, surpassing that $43MM mark in free agency could be plausible. If Andrus opted out, he’d certainly be issued a qualifying offer — there’s no reason for the team to worry about him taking a one-year deal worth about $18MM when he just walked away from $58MM — which would only further hinder his earning power.

Yasmany Tomas, D-backs (Two years, $32.5MM remaining): Tomas clubbed 31 homers with the 2016 Diamondbacks but did so with a .315 on-base percentage and some of the worst defensive ratings of any player in the Majors — regardless of position. He’s since been outrighted off the 40-man roster and, in 371 Triple-A plate appearances this season, has 101 strikeouts against 11 walks with a .280 OBP. Suffice it to say: he’s not going anywhere.

Mark Melancon, Giants (Two years, $28MM remaining): Injuries have ruined Melancon’s first two seasons with the Giants, though he’s been excellent since returning in 2018: 2.64 ERA, 7.9K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 30 2/3 innings. That performance is encouraging for the Giants as they look to 2019, but it won’t be enough to make Melancon’s camp think he can top $28MM heading into his age-34 season.

Brandon Kintzler, Cubs ($5MM player option): Kintzler’s contract technically contains a $10MM club option or a $5MM player option, but it’s clear given his dismal performance since being traded to Chicago that the team won’t be opting for that $10MM sum. Kintzler was very good with the Twins and Nationals from 2016 through this past July, but his typically excellent control has evaporated in Chicago while his hard-contact rate has skyrocketed. It’s only a sample of 11 2/3 innings, but his struggles make the option seem a fairly straightforward decision.

Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox ($5MM player option): Nunez’s deal comes with a $2MM buyout, making this effectively a $3MM decision for his camp. He’s struggled to the point that he may not even want to take that risk, though, hitting just .258/.282/.384 through 473 trips to the plate.

Rob Bradford of reported this week that Nunez’s option increased from $4MM to $5MM once he reached 400 plate appearances. Bradford spoke to Nunez, who acknowledged that the knee that gave out on him in the postseason last year has been a problem for him throughout 2018, though he believes he’s finally “close” to 100 percent. Perhaps a strong month and a big postseason could prompt him to again test the open market, but his overall production to this point makes the player option seem a likelier outcome.

Brandon Morrow To Throw From Mound On Sunday Fri, 07 Sep 2018 04:06:40 +0000 Some would accuse statistically-inclined baseball fans and (in particular) writers of sapping the joy out of the game. Quite often, though, that approach to America’s Pastime offers avenues for extending the exhilaration of the game as observed in real-time. Today’s offering from Craig Edwards of Fangraphs is one such example. In it, he examines — and endeavors to value — the bewitching effects Cubs star Javy Baez seemingly has on opposing defenders when he’s buzzing around the basepaths.

  • A compelling postseason effort last year from Brandon Morrow was no doubt fresh on the collective mind of the Cubs organization when it signed him to be the team’s next closer. Though Morrow has been outstanding, he’s now dealing with arm issues and seemingly facing a tougher path back than Miller. As Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Morrow will attempt to throw from the mound on Sunday in a test that could make or break his hope to begin working toward a late-September return.
Latest On Brandon Morrow Thu, 06 Sep 2018 00:35:12 +0000 While the Cubs aren’t giving up hope that closer Brandon Morrow will make it back to the majors this year, manager Joe Maddon did not paint a terribly optimistic picture in comments to reporters including’s Carrie Muskat. Morrow has been out since mid-July with a biceps injury.

Notably, the 34-year-old hurler has yet to begin throwing from a mound. Even if he’s cleared to do so in the near-term, Maddon explains, there’s simply a crunch for time. As the skipper put it, there is “barely” enough room on the calendar for a return late this month.

That’s obviously worrisome news for a club that’s trying to protect a three-game lead in the division and launch an extended postseason run. Morrow, who signed a two-year, $21MM deal in the offseason, had been in excellent form to open the year. In his first 30 2/3 frames in a Cubs uniform, he racked up 22 saves and posted a 1.47 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.

Whatever one may think of the Cubs’ replacement options when trying to protect late-game leads, the absence of Morrow greatly diminishes the overall vitality of the club’s relief unit. Of course, his long history of injury problems helps explain why the Chicago organization got such a reasonable price on a pitcher coming off of a dominant season.

At the time of the injury, the hope seemed to be that Morrow would only need a brief respite. How the Cubs weighed the uncertainy in plotting mid-season moves isn’t really known. The club picked up Brandon Kintzler and Jesse Chavez, but did not land a pitcher who’d clearly function as a replacement. While the former has more experience as a late-inning reliever, the latter has been far the better pitcher over the last several weeks.

Now, with the deadline to add postseason-eligible players from outside the organization already having passed, the Cubs won’t be able to do anything to bolster their bullpen other than add some late-regular-season depth. Fortunately, there are a few worthwhile options still on hand. Kintzler and Chavez are still beneath Pedro Strop,  Steve Cishek, and Carl Edwards Jr., on the Cubs’ depth chart. Each of those three righties has high-leverage experience and a sub-3.00 ERA for the 2018 season.

Perhaps it’s still hypothetically possible for Morrow to return in the postseason, even if he’s not able to make it back before the calendar flips to October. That would be complicated by the lack of rehab outing possibilities, but certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility — particularly for an organization that recently engineered an even more dramatic postseason injury return.

Cubs Select Jaime Garcia Tue, 04 Sep 2018 22:05:13 +0000 Sept. 4: The Cubs announced today that they’ve selected Garcia’s contract. He’s been added to the big league roster, with Mark Zagunis landing on the 60-day DL to make roster space. Chicago will only owe Garcia the pro-rated league minimum — about $81K through season’s end. The Blue Jays are on the hook for the remainder of his guaranteed salary.

Aug. 31: The Cubs are set to sign lefty Jaime Garcia to a minor league contract, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.’s Mark Feinsand had just tweeted that Garcia was “likely” to sign with the Cubs following yesterday’s release by the Blue Jays. Garcia is a client of Moye Sports Associates.

Garcia’s one-year, $10MM deal with the Jays yielded poor results — a 5.93 ERA through 74 1/3 innings — but Sherman notes that the Cubs plan to take a look at him in the bullpen. He’ll head to the Cubs’ Triple-A bullpen for a few relief appearances, and the hope appears to be that he can be used as a weapon against left-handed opponents. Through 89 plate appearances against left-handed hitters this season, Garcia allowed just a .183/.250/.388 batting line.

[Related: Chicago Cubs depth chart]

So long as the deal becomes official today, Garcia would be eligible for the Cubs’ postseason roster in the event that his transition to relief role proves beneficial. That’s clearly not a guarantee, given his disastrous results in Toronto this year, but there’s little harm for the Chicago organization in exploring the possibility. Currently, the team has Justin Wilson, Randy Rosario and Jorge De La Rosa as southpaw options in the bullpen, with Brian Duensing also working his way back from a shoulder issue.

Outright Assignments: Yankees, Cubs, Blue Jays Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:01:00 +0000 Several players, previously designated for assignment, were outrighted yesterday after clearing waivers. Among them:

  • The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Shane Robinson and left-hander Ryan Bollinger to Triple-A Scranton, per a team announcement. New York recently designated both players for assignment after acquiring Andrew McCutchen and Adeiny Hechavarria, respectively. Robinson and Bollinger have each been outrighted in the past, so they’ll be able to elect free agency if they’re so inclined. The 33-year-old Robinson already has significant major league experience on his resume (849 plate appearances), including 54 PAs this season, but has only managed a .580 OPS at the game’s highest level. Bollinger, 27, has not yet reached the majors, but he has performed well in the Yankees’ system this year. Over 111 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, Bollinger has logged a 3.87 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
  • Cubs hurlers Rob Zastryzny and Cory Mazzoni both cleared waivers and were outrighted after losing their 40-man spots recently. The former, a 26-year-old lefty, has seen scattered action with the MLB club over the past three seasons. Zastryzny has moved to a relief role this year at Triple-A, throwing 56 innings of 3.86 ERA ball over 33 appearances (including one start). As for Mazzoni, 28, he allowed just one earned run in his 8 2/3 frames this year in the majors, but also recorded only seven strikeouts with five walks. In his 38 1/3 innings at Iowa in 2018, the former second-rounder pitched to a 4.46 ERA while compiling 34 strikeouts and 11 walks.
  • Righty Murphy Smith was outrighted by the Blue Jays, per a club announcement. It made for a nice story when the 31-year-old debuted in the majors after a lengthy minor-league career, but he was always at risk of being bumped from the 40-man as soon as a roster need arose. Smith allowed three earned runs in his 3 1/3 innings of MLB action this year, but worked to a 3.59 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 62 2/3 Triple-A innings.
Angels Claim Luke Farrell, Designate Osmer Morales Mon, 03 Sep 2018 22:40:49 +0000 The Angels have claimed righty Luke Farrell off waivers from the Cubs, per a club announcement. To create space on the 40-man roster, the Halos designated Osmer Morales for assignment.

Tonight’s starter, Matt Shoemaker, also needed a 40-man spot after returning from the 60-day DL. He’ll change places with first baseman/DH Albert Pujols, who was shifted to the 60-day DL after undergoing season-ending surgery recently.

Farrell, 27, was knocked off the Cubs’ 40-man roster recently to make way for some preferred late-season roster assets. He has managed only a 5.17 ERA through 31 1/3 MLB frames on the season, though he did post 11.2 K/9 (on the basis of a much-improved 11.4% swinging-strike rate) to go with 4.6 BB/9.

As for the 25-year-old Morales, he recently made his first MLB appearance but obviously did not have a clear place in the organization’s near-future plans. In 102 innings at Triple-A this year, he carried a 6.44 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 5.0 BB/9.

How Jason Heyward's Absence Could Affect Cubs' Outfield, Infield Sun, 02 Sep 2018 03:42:35 +0000
  • The Cubs placed outfielder Jason Heyward (right hamstring) on the disabled list Friday, and his absence appears likely to affect their infield picture, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times explains. Given that third baseman Kris Bryant is capable of playing the outfield, he may see quite a bit of time in the grass during Heyward’s absence, per Wittenmyer. That would open up the hot corner for middle infielder Javier Baez, while Addison Russell would handle shortstop and Daniel Murphy would stay at second base. Heyward, meanwhile, may miss the majority of September, Wittenmyer suggests. After a rough stretch from 2016-17, Heyward has posted something of a bounce-back season this year, having hit .275/.342/.399 (100 wRC+) with 2.2 fWAR in 451 plate appearances.
  • ]]>
    Cubs Activate Kris Bryant, Addison Russell Sat, 01 Sep 2018 22:34:35 +0000 The NL Central-leading Cubs are getting healthier as they charge toward a third straight division title. The club announced that it has activated superstar third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell from the 10-day disabled list. Of the two, only Bryant’s in the Cubs’ starting lineup for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.

    The Cubs’ roster looks stronger than it did when Bryant landed on the shelf July 26 with left shoulder inflammation, as the team has since swung deals for several players, including left-hander Cole Hamels and second baseman Daniel Murphy. Those additions have helped Chicago stay atop its division, which it leads by 3 1/2 games, in Bryant’s absence.

    At the time of his DL placement, the 26-year-old Bryant was slashing .276/.380/.474 in 358 plate appearances. While those numbers are 29 percent better than league average, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric, they’re a good deal worse than Bryant’s career line of .286/.387/.519 (141 wRC+). Perhaps because of his shoulder troubles, Bryant’s power output has fallen this season, as he has managed 11 home runs and a career-worst .197 ISO. Nevertheless, the 2016 NL MVP remains an eminently valuable player – one whom the Cubs are no doubt overjoyed to welcome back. Chicago primarily deployed David Bote at third with Bryant out, and while the former has had his moments during a quality rookie campaign, his production has cratered of late. Bote racked up 82 PAs in August and hit a meager .187/.244/.387 with 25 strikeouts against four walks.

    As for Russell, he appears to be in line for diminished playing time, thanks in part to the acquisition of Murphy. Russell went on the DL with a sprained left index finger Aug. 22, which made room for the Cubs to add Murphy to their roster. Murphy has been hot since then, and carries a better offensive track record than Russell, making it likely he’ll continue as Chicago’s top option at the keystone. And Murphy’s presence has left shortstop for Javier Baez, who had been the Cubs’ starting second baseman and has been one of the majors’ most valuable players in 2018.

    Cubs Designate Luke Farrell, Rob Zastryzny Sat, 01 Sep 2018 20:32:19 +0000 The Cubs have a pair of roster casualties today amidst their first round of September call-ups: right-hander Luke Farrell and left-hander Rob Zastryzny have been designated for assignment in order to clear room on the roster for outfielder Terrance Gore and infielder Taylor Davis, whose contracts have been selected from Triple-A Iowa.

    Farrell has done more harm than good for the 2018 Cubs team; his 5.17 ERA and 5.19 FIP are nearly identical, indicating he hasn’t shown the skills required of an effective major-league pitcher. While his ability to miss bats (11.20 K/9) might disagree with that assumption to some extent, his command issues (4.60 BB/9) strengthens the case that he isn’t a useful major-league piece at this time. His biggest woes come from the fact that he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher (30.6% ground-ball rate) who allows an excess of homers (17.5% homer-to-fly-ball ratio).

    The 26-year-old Zastryzny has seen less of an extended look at the MLB level, but showed even less promise than Farrell in that small sample. He’s allowed three earned runs while walking four batters in a 5 2/3 inning sample size, and while it’s perhaps unfair to draw many conclusions from that limited opportunity, his 2018 Triple-A performance doesn’t necessarily help his cause. While the 3.86 ERA he posted in 56 innings there might seem serviceable on the surface, the 4.68 FIP and 4.52 xFIP lurking underneath paint an entirely different picture. He also walked a batter every other inning on average while with Iowa.