Sometimes, a 40-man roster assessment ought to be principally on the raw numbers. Other times, ancillary considerations play in. When a player fighting for a 40-man roster spot has ugly numbers, something in the background might sometimes be enough to save him. For my money, Cory Abbott is greatly benefitted, for now, by something that hasn’t happened yet.
Abbott was a Cubs second-round choice from Loyola Marymount in 2017. Alex Lange and Keegan Thompson have already debuted in MLB from that Cubs draft class along with Abbott. Abbott’s numbers for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs were less than appealing. However, he was better late, for whatever that’s worth. He pitched relatively well against the Cardinals on October 1. Again, for what that’s worth.
Two special considerations apply. Abbott, as with Adrian Sampson before, can hold down a rotation spot in Iowa in 2022 with no serious concern. Having players who can pitch with the I-Cubs, get summoned to Wrigley for a spot start, then get returned without blowback are useful. Two or three of those types are almost essential with the rate that pitchers get injured these days.
Abbott has an “upside” that many, including Sampson and Sergio Alcántara, don’t. That’s a part of weaving together November decisions in November, and leaving January decisions for January. Abbott has yet to be bounced off the 40-man roster. If the Cubs hold off with that with Abbott until at least January (I doubt the 40-man roster is full before that), they can designate him for assignment if a move is absolutely essential. If he clears waivers, the Cubs get to keep him, off the 40-man roster. If they non-tender him in early December, he becomes a free agent.
Saying Abbott ought to make the 40-man roster isn’t floating him as anything more than a player on the 40-man roster. Perhaps he gets through until March. Perhaps he’s a roster casualty when a free-agent is signed, or when someone more impressive gets claimed. Non-tendering Abbott in early-December is an option, but it’s not necessarily a necessary one. Someone has to pitch in Iowa, and Abbott would fill the role capably enough.
Should Cory Abbott be on the Cubs’ 40-man roster on December 15?
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