It’s September 1!
And that means major-league teams can expand their active rosters from 25 to... well, up to the entire 40-man roster, but in reality no team does this.
The September roster expansion used to be useful for teams to see young players that they hadn’t otherwise seen and give them a chance to play, especially if they were out of pennant contention. But now with many minor-league games televised and scouts everywhere, this is less necessary. Instead, now September is for 14-man bullpens and parades of bench players into games.
There’s been talk about making adjustments to this system, with teams still allowed to call up as many players as they want, but they’d have to have only 25 active on any one day. That might happen sometime down the road, but for now, we still have bloated rosters for the season’s last month. Thanks to Josh for writing up some notes on Dillon Maples and Mike Freeman for this article.
The Cubs added four players to the active roster for Friday’s game:
#Cubs activate Grimm off DL, recall Caratini and select Maples and Freeman. 40-man moves coming.— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) September 1, 2017
Victor Caratini has had two different stints with the big club this year. He didn’t hit well the first time — .192/.250/.385 with one home run in 26 at-bats — but did a bit better the second time around, when he was called up after the injury to Willson Contreras, .400/.438/.467 (6-for-15) with a double. He’ll provide some additional bench flexibility.
Justin Grimm had an awful start to this year, then was sent to Iowa. After his return he was lights-out for 14 games (0.63 ERA, 0.419 WHIP), then suddenly lost it again after July 1: 7.94 ERA, 1.853 WHIP in his next nine games. Sent down again, he was recalled when Koji Uehara went on the DL, and then was placed on the DL himself after three not-so-great outings with what was described as an “infected finger.”
The promotion of right-hander Dillon Maples is the latest chapter in a long journey by a highly-touted draft pick who was long ago written off as a bust. Maples was a 14th round pick in 2012, Jim Hendry’s final draft, and was given a giant $2.5 million bonus to keep him away from North Carolina and a football scholarship, where he would have been a punter for the Tar Heels as well as pitching for the baseball team. Since then, his time in the Cubs organization had been nothing but disappointment as he constantly struggled with injuries as well as his command and control when healthy.
Maples decided to retire last July and called his father, who played five years in the Orioles organization without ever making the majors, to tell him. His dad told him playing baseball was better than not playing baseball and, essentially, make them rip the jersey off your back. Maples came back with a new dedication. He also learned a new pitch, a cutter, that plays off a fastball which now regularly sits in the upper-90s. He’s gone from Myrtle Beach to Tennessee to Iowa this year and between the three stops, posted a 2.27 ERA and 13 saves. He’s struck out 100 batters in 63.1 innings. He still walks too many batters, but at least his control can now be classified as “below average” rather than “non-existant.”
Mike Freeman is a journeyman infielder who played on the major-league level for the Diamondbacks, Mariners and Dodgers over the past two seasons. He can draw a walk, run the bases and play shortstop. That’s about the extent of his abilities. The Cubs signed him after the Dodgers released him earlier this month and he hit .273 with a .345 OBP in 23 games with Iowa.
The Cubs will likely have more recalls after Iowa’s season ends Monday. Jon Lester is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Saturday’s game against the Braves.