Anything happen in baseball while I was at Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon?
In the recent past, deadline-day deals have been relatively dull. This year? Kind of like you'd have had in your fantasy league, probably. The Cubs were satisfied to make a trade that, in the long run, is somewhat minor: James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to the Braves for their second-round 2013 pick, Victor Caratini.
Before I move on to some personal thoughts on this deal and answering the question I posed in the headline, here's a scouting report on Caratini (courtesy Chris Blessing, who tweeted it at me this afternoon). Looks good to me, and Chop County, run by former SB Nation Braves blogger Martin Gandy, had Caratini ranked as their No. 8 Braves prospect at midseason.
That's about the best you could expect to get from Russell, who's been up and down this year and had probably outlived his usefulness in the Cubs bullpen, and Bonifacio, who was having what for him was a typical midseason swoon. Bonifacio is a versatile utility player, but nothing more than that, really, and his purpose on the 2014 Cubs was to play well enough to bring something back in trade. (Yes, likely signed to be flipped, for whatever that's worth.) That, he did.
Now the question turns to this: who replaces these two on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters?
I currently count 38 players on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs could conceivably add players from the system to the 40-man and promote them onto the 25-man roster. One of them, apparently, won't be Javier Baez:
#Cubs GM Hoyer says Bonifacio trade doesn't change timetable for Javier Baez. They will discuss later today who comes up
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 31, 2014
That comment is somewhat noncommittal. The Cubs could promote Baez, put him at second base, and put Arismendy Alcantara in center field for the rest of the year, with Junior Lake moving into a left-field platoon with Chris Coghlan.
Or, they could just call up Logan Watkins, who's already on the 40-man roster, and take a look at him in a super-utility role, kind of what Bonifacio was doing. Watkins has played everywhere except pitcher and catcher this year, and it would certainly be worth finding out if he could be a major-league utility player. That would, of course, mean that Rick Renteria would actually have to give Watkins playing time, something Dale Sveum didn't last year.
Now, to the second spot.
If the team wants to keep eight relievers, they'll bring a pitcher on the trip to Los Angeles. It could be Zac Rosscup, who's now been down at Iowa for 10 days, meaning he's eligible for recall. It also could mean the activation of Kyuji Fujikawa, who's made 11 rehab appearances, pitched pretty well, and has to be almost out of time on rehab assignment. Fujikawa is currently on the 60-day disabled list, so he'd take up one of the 40-man spots if activated. It would probably be worth doing, if only to see if it's worth keeping Fujikawa in 2015. With Chris Rusin currently in the Cubs' bullpen along with Wesley Wright, they'd still have two lefthanders.
Could the Cubs be considering promoting Jorge Soler? We've talked about Soler's unusual contract status and his 40-man roster status, both of which would seem to make a recall possible, if not likely. Soler has not played much this year due to injuries, but he has been crushing the ball since he started playing: .393/.485/.794 in 130 plate appearances split between rookie ball, Double-A and Triple-A, with nine home runs.
At some point the Cubs are going to have to find out about Soler. Why not now? Bring him up and put him in right field. Watkins could come too; Nate Schierholtz is pretty much past his sell-by date and could be designated for assignment to make room for both Soler and Watkins.
Finally, I wanted to thank Josh for all his hard work in keeping everything up-to-date here while I was at Thursday afternoon's game. He did leave off a poll on the trade on his post announcing the swap, so I've put it here. Vote in the poll, and leave your thoughts on who'll be new additions to the Cubs' 25-man roster for the Dodger series, in the comments.