Thursday night, David Bote was lifted from the Cubs’ 9-0 win in Pittsburgh with an apparent injury, suffered in the on-deck circle, of all places [VIDEO].
This late in the season, any injury could be a “season-ending” sort of malady. With only a 28-man roster in October (instead of the previous 40 player limit), teams can face injury concerns late in the season. That’s where the Cubs are. While “call up the best player” is a good theory, the practice of running a big league organization can sometimes run counter to that. If Bote is finished for the season, a handful of potential replacements exist. Which make the most sense?
Baseball is littered with rules. Some are game-related. Some involve MLB rosters. For instance, once sent to the minor leagues, a player must wait 10 days to get called back up. However, if a player is placed on the injured list, such a player can be recalled, even if the two moves are apparently unrelated. If a doubleheader allows an extra player to be called up, the 10-day limit can be ignored. MLB has scads of rules.
If the Cubs call up a player this late in the season, that player can’t be designated for assignment until mid-March. (More specifically, 15 days before Opening Day, in case there is a work-stoppage.) So, if the Cubs place Bote on the 60-day Injured List, anyone they call up would fit, most ideally, in one of two categories:
- A player who was going to be on the 40 man roster all off-season, already, anyway, or
- A player unlikely to be highly-enough valued by any team to be claimed if made available. Similarly, it’s unlikely a recently drafted player would be added.
The I-Cubs have had their roster savaged, as the same has happened to the Chicago Cubs. Five players were added to the Iowa roster on Thursday to complete the season. Pitcher Didier Vargas, catcher Casey Opitz, outfielder Peter Matt, and infielders Matt Mervis and Liam Spence will be with Iowa for their last three games of the season. Matt, Spence, and Opitz are members of the 2021 Cubs draft class. If any of them were to get called up, they would either be on the 40-man roster all winter, or they’d get non-tendered. The Cubs might lose a longer-term piece for three reasonably meaningless games. It’s not about starting clocks and wage suppression all the time. Sometimes, it’s MLB’s rules.
If the Cubs contemplate to call up, for instance, Jared Young (who is now on the taxi squad), they have to make a decision. Is he going to get a 40-man roster spot all off-season? If the decision was that was happening anyway, calling him up makes sense, irrespective of anything else. If he wasn’t getting a roster spot in November, calling him up would be foolish. Because the future is more important than three games in 2021. Young is barely off my 40-man roster for the offseason. If that hunch is right, calling him up is counterproductive, whether Young is the most deserving candidate, or not.
Three players stick out the most as potential call-ups to replace Bote: Tyler Ladendorf (also on the taxi squad), Abiatal Avelino, and Andrew Romine. Any of those three can play multiple positions, and fill in the roster spot for three days in St. Louis. Which one gets the first chance? Why? Would they possibly decline the chance?
The Cubs have a mild carrot. It’s not a huge inducement, but it is an incentive. Of those three players, which one would they most want in MLB spring training in 2022? I have no advance knowledge, but if one were preferred, the Cubs could offer that player a “successor contract” for accepting the call-up. The successor contract would mean the player is willing to sign a minor league deal with the team for 2022. And, if the player refuses to sign the successor contract, the potential three days in MLB could be offered to someone else. Tough decision, possibly.
I’d prefer Avelino in the Cubs pipeline in 2022 over the others. If it boiled to the other two, their presence in 2022 wouldn’t be as essential. If Avelino wants to sign a successor contract, but only if, he’d be my choice for three days of MLB service time and per diem. Otherwise, the other two are equal. Christopher Morel is where he belongs. As is Brennen Davis. Adding Avelino, if he’s willing to stick around into 2022 on a minor-league deal, seems reasonable.
Who gets called up isn’t always about who is best. As political and manipulative as it appears, that isn’t what most baseball fans prioritize. For me, who gets called up, and why, is fascinating. My guess is Avelino if he signs a successor contract, and Romine if Avelino doesn’t.
If the Cubs put David Bote on the IL, who will replace him on the active roster?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave in comments)