Baseball is a business on the executive side. The method of baseball that wins, isn't necessarily the style that's most pleasing to watch. Players are assessed as assets more than humans. And, on occasion, decisions are made that seem abjectly cold-hearted. On Sunday night, Matt Dermody tossed a three-up-three-down frame. On Monday, he was designated for assignment.
Have you ever enjoyed a timeline? Perhaps, it's of a favored musical act. Or, maybe you're trying to remember the name of that movie that one actor was in. The timeline of everything rolls out before you, and sometimes, what happened was the most likely possibility of any possibilities. Such was the case with Dermody's day in Chicago.
On Saturday, the Cubs added Ildemaro Vargas on waivers. As things would happen, a string of combinations and permutations were possible. While the events hadn't, and haven't been finalized, the timeline makes sense. With Vargas incoming, someone was leaving. Steven Souza Jr. had one more chance to prove himself. If, in Game 1 of Saturday’s twin bill, he goes 2-for-3 with 5 RBI, another choice is made. He fanned twice, and was leaving, anyway.
Since Souza was gone, and Tyson Miller was around, it made sense to use Miller in the nightcap. Souza was past tense, so using Miller in whatever fashion was more useful than not activating Miller. After tossing on Saturday, Miller was unlikely to go the next day. As to which player made the most sense would depend on a few factors. As the bullpen was a bit taxed, a disposable arm made the most sense. Vargas wasn't activated on Sunday, so the replaceability of the next day's guy might be a consideration.
Now, I cheat a bit. I pull away from Sunday, and move to Monday, instead. The Cubs knew they had placed (or would be placing) a claim on Billy Hamilton. If the claim rang through, they might need to create another 40-man spot, and need a 28-man spot, eventually. With the Vargas add being made on Monday, the Monday 28-man roster was, by all intents and purposes, what was desired. Whether Vargas gets DFAd or not, the Monday rosters (both 40 and 28) and the 60-man player pool made sense. They aren't ideal, but nothing significant had been surrendered. Since the Monday rosters were as desired, the Sunday replacement for Miller should be a pitcher not on the 40, and somewhat disposable.
Some might have preferred Brailyn Marquez or Justin Steele. Remember, though, with Vargas being added on Monday, and Hamilton on Tuesday for Jose Martinez, anyone added to the 40 with an intent for a long stay complicates things. Hence, Dermody, who added to his reputation in the Independent Constellation Energy League earlier this year (yes, that’s the real name of the league), is the guy. He gets his look, is on GM radars, and tossed 95 from the left side.
Yes, it was cold-blooded designating Dermody after a perfect inning. A brief look at the three options is required. The Cubs have a week to trade, release, or run Dermody through waivers. More than likely, Dermody is grateful for the offer, and appreciates greatly the add to his perceived value. Many DFA candidates are laughingstocks. Dermody is perhaps less so than some.
I imagine the Cubs have had a number of frank internal discussions regarding Dermody. If run through waivers, he might well get claimed, with forever years of club control. He wouldn't likely fetch much in trade, and the waiver fee isn't much better. I have no idea the interest in Dermody from any of the 30 clubs, but trying him in the ninth on Sunday night was the perfect storm of "getting a chance," cleaning roster spots with limited consequence, and rewarding success.
With everything that happened, and will happen, Dermody getting a look was a free opportunity to take a risk-averse gamble. Perhaps, using Steele would have been the better option, but this shows, yet again, the importance of a 40-man roster spot. Not always, but periodically enough, the 39th and 40th roster spots are of value, and should not be treated frivolously if player development and retention are considered important.
If executives across the league are buying on Dermody, the Cubs can possibly get more than the surrender fee. Either way, he was treated in a humane fashion. He displayed, yet again, that a relative unknown can represent at the MLB level. What his perceived value is, we shall know soon in another chance to experience MLB Economics.