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Cubs roster move: Danny Hultzen activated, Taylor Davis designated for assignment

The Cubs have a new lefthander on board.

Danny Hultzen pitches in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB via Getty Images

The Cubs have a new lefthander in the bullpen for tonight’s game against the Brewers:

Danny Hultzen could be a great comeback story. As noted in the recap to Friday’s game, Hultzen was the Mariners’ No. 1 pick in 2011. Eight years ago. That’s the same first round that produced Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, George Springer, Anthony Rendon and several other good MLB players. But Hultzen’s career was derailed by injuries and a couple of shoulder surgeries. He was out of baseball entirely in 2017. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal before 2018. He didn’t pitch much last year, or early in 2019, but in 14 appearances for Triple-A Iowa this year he has struck out 23 in 14⅓ innings, though with a fairly high walk rate (5.7). He’s touched 97 miles per hour and, as a lefthander, could help out this bullpen the rest of the year.

Davis has been in the Cubs minor league system since signing as a non-drafted free agent out of Morehead State in 2011. He’s spent parts of the last five seasons playing for Triple-A Iowa where he’s become a fixture, even earning the nickname “The Mayor of Des Moines.” He’s also received major league call-ups in each of the past three seasons, serving as the emergency “third catcher” who bounces between the majors and Triple-A when a injury occurs. But with Willson Contreras fully healthy and Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy on the roster, Davis’ spot on the 40-man roster became superfluous. Should he clear waivers, the Cubs seem likely to bring him back, should Iowa manage to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Davis will be a minor-league free agent this offseason, so an Iowa reunion in 2020 is not out of the question.

Davis hit .167/.250/.333 in 20 plate appearances for the Cubs in 2019. He also hit a grand slam against the Cardinals for his first (and so far only) major league home run. Davis is also known for this.

If Hultzen can throw with that kind of velocity and effectiveness in the big leagues this month, he can be a very good lefty specialist for the Cubs down the stretch and possibly in 2020 as well.