The Cubs signed former Cardinal, Rockie and Diamondback Daniel Descalso this winter to be a backup at multiple infield and outfield positions, as well as provide clubhouse leadership.
Daniel Descalso jammed his left shoulder during Cubs' game against the Angels on Saturday. Shut down from hitting right now. No announced timetable. Could potentially make up ABs in Minor League games later in camp.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 13, 2019
That report from Jordan Bastian was on Wednesday. The news wasn’t any better Friday:
Descalso said this morning that he's still shut down. Hoping to test left shoulder with some range of motion activities in a couple days, with goal of resuming baseball stuff in near future. Still no timetable for return, though.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 15, 2019
Opening Day is now just 12 days away, and with no baseball activities on his calendar and no timetable for his return, it’s possible Descalso will have to start the season on the injured list.
If that happens, the Cubs will need an extra bench player. Who will that be? Here are a few possibilities, in alphabetical order.
Adames has had a great spring camp at the plate: .429/.462/.829 (15-for-35) with three doubles, a triple, three home runs, 12 runs scored and 11 RBI. He hasn’t hit much in parts of four seasons with the Rockies: .206/.283/.278. The three homers he’s hit this spring are more than the two he has in 306 big-league at-bats, and he spent all of 2018 in Triple-A.
The advantage for Adames is that he plays shortstop, and the Cubs could use a backup shortstop while Addison Russell is on suspension. The disadvantage for him is that there’s almost no way he keeps hitting the way he has this spring. Adames is also not on the 40-man roster, so someone would have to be dropped to add him.
Court has now been in two Cubs spring camps; he hit well enough last spring (.360/.458/.660 with four home runs) that the team kept him at Iowa all year, though he never got a callup. This year he’s hitting .274/.324/.333, and the usual caveats to a small sample of spring at-bats apply in both cases.
Court can also play shortstop, as well as all the other infield positions in addition to left field if needed. Not that any team would put someone on its roster for this reason, but Court grew up in the Chicago area (Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville) and has always been a huge Cubs fan. He’s 30, so he’s not really a prospect.
Like Adames, Court is not on the 40-man roster.
Evans has been kind of under-the-radar this spring. Mostly a late-inning replacement, he has hit .300/.323/.467 (9-for-30) with three doubles and a triple. He has played in 34 big-league games over the last two years for the Mets and is primarily a second and third baseman, though he did play some shortstop at Triple-A Las Vegas last year.
Evans would also have to be added to the 40-man roster.
Giambrone has often been referred to as “this year’s David Bote,” and his progression through the system has been rapid. After a good showing in Double-A and in the Arizona Fall League in 2018, Giambrone is hitting .333/.394/.633 (10-for-30) this spring with three doubles and two home runs.
This would be an outside-the-box promotion. Giambrone has only 294 professional games played, and Theo & Co. probably would like him to start the year at Triple-A. Like Court and Adames, Giambrone would have to be added to the 40-man roster.
The best part of Zagunis’ game is his on-base skills. He’s got a .400 career OBP in the minor leagues. That could be useful off the bench.
After showing decent power his first four years in the system, though, his SLG dropped to .375 at Iowa in 2018. In brief big-league callups he’s 2-for-19, though with five walks.
The disadvantage for Zagunis is that defensively, he plays only the two corner outfield positions (though he did start in the system as a catcher). The Cubs would seem to have enough outfielders. The advantage for him is that he’s on the 40-man roster already and so no one would have to be dropped.
Who would you choose? Here’s a thought from Joe Maddon:
Asked what options exist for last bench spot if Descalso isn't ready for Opening Day, Maddon mentioned NRI utility man Cristhian Adames. Entered today hitting .438/1.316 in 15 spring games.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 15, 2019
Maddon: "We have not arrived at that yet. I mean, it's just kind of wide open."
Also, last Saturday the team announced roster cuts. With just 12 days remaining until Opening Day, it would seem about time for more, and Jordan Bastian mentioned this Friday:
On Friday morning, it looked like a handful of players were getting the call to the manager’s office. I’d expect to have a wave of roster reductions coming on Saturday. Stay tuned.
It’s possible there will be an announcement later this morning. There are currently 55 players still in camp.
Who should be on the Opening Day roster if Daniel Descalso has to start the year on the injured list?
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Someone else (leave in comments)