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Cubs 40-man roster coin-flips: Sergio Alcántara

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He’s just on the edge of someone who’s useful or not.

Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

I decided to enlist Twitter to help with this series. People with ideas for or against certain players regarding a specific players roster spot are being encouraged to send me a tweet. If there is anyone tossing their ideas in, I’ll include them. Today’s choice, Sergio Alcántara, had an early tweet suggestion. Before I delve too far into this, retention or a lack thereof is more about logic than emotion. It’s perfectly possible to love having a player on a roster, but contend he might not have earned a spot. Or, technically the opposite. My decision on Alcántara takes a bit of a detour to start.

I’m not normally a fan of reverse-engineering a roster. Too often, as a season ends, fans assess their current roster in regard to the roster of the last few teams remaining in the postseason, teams that are elite or nearly elite. These teams likely have a few aspects of player development that are far advanced over lesser teams, The Cubs, for instance, traded nine players in July, when they realized the postseason was unlikely. Had no teams approached July in that fashion, Max Scherzer wouldn’t have been with the Dodgers. November decisions are about November, not next season’s stretch run.

Nonetheless, looking at Alcántara’s spot on the roster is benefited by some moderate reverse engineering. Whether you like the Cubs current infield or not, Frank Schwindel is the first baseman until he isn’t, with Patrick Wisdom at third. Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal figure to get regular time. David Bote and Alcántara are likely bench pieces in April, at least the way it looks now. As the offseason continues, the Cubs figure to add a few starting pitchers and relievers. Which doesn’t change anything regarding Alcántara.

However, at some point, it’s reasonable to expect Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins to pull the trigger on an infield signing. My (rather pessimistic) guess is that it will be a second- or even third-tier free agent shortstop. At some point, someone will get jittery, wanting to get signed. Whether my scenario is accurate or not, the Cubs signing a shortstop wouldn’t be surprising. Whoever the player is. Which knocks all the dominoes over.

If that’s the case, the Cubs are looking at a shortstop, Hoerner, Madrigal, Wisdom, Schwindel, and Bote (who has guaranteed money) on the roster. It gets hard to find roster room for Alcántara, and even harder to locate realistic playing time for him. As he’s out of option seasons, sending him to Iowa mid-way through training camp is quite problematic.

When the Cubs added Alcantara (on waivers, in February), they designated him for assignment two weeks later. Since he hadn’t cleared waivers before, he had no recourse but to accept the assignment to Iowa. Now, if DFAd, he could declare himself a free agent, and likely would. (Unlike Frank Schwindel, who when claimed on waivers, was in the lineup as the starting first baseman in two weeks. Alcántara was claimed to get DFAd.) If Alcántara is unlikely to make it though (or even to) spring training, burning a 40-man roster spot seems a bit wasteful.

He’s a solid enough middle infielder, with a good enough glove. The bat doesn’t scare me enough to make the decision, but I don’t see him sticking around until April if the Cubs sign an upgrade at shortstop. Which I consider likely.

Would it be a terrible thing if Alcántara kept a spot until something better came along? I guess not. My vision of the roster manipulation puts the Cubs at 34 (preferably) or 35 roster spots leading up to the Rule 5 Draft. As such, the first five or six moves (free agent signings or waiver wire claims) are effectively free. After that, decisions will have to be made.

I’m much forgiving with pitchers that hitters as far as lightbulb moments. Could Alcántara upgrade his hitting by two or three notches? Sure. Would it be sweet for the Cubs to go “slightly over” in offering him a minor league free agent deal if he doesn’t sign elsewhere? Yes, definitely. However, expecting him to stay on the roster all offseason is thorny if you expect a pure shortstop to get signed. Thank Alcántara for his service, offer him a nice minor league offer with an opt-out, and bid him adieu if he declines.

Poll

Sergio Alcántara...

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    ... keep him on the 40-man all winter
    (93 votes)
  • 66%
    ... DFA him, but give him a minor-league offer with an opt-out
    (255 votes)
  • 8%
    ... DFA him without the minor league offer
    (33 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (5 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now