These Cubs roster moves were actually announced Thursday, September 1, which is the day MLB team rosters could be expanded from 26 to 28 players, but I was on the road back to Chicago from Toronto, so I didn’t have a chance to weigh in on them here.
These are the official roster moves. I’ll follow with some thoughts about how the 31 games remaining for the Cubs could look.
- Adrian Sampson and Justin Steele were reinstated from the restricted list.
- Jeremiah Estrada and Brendon Little, who replaced Sampson and Steele on the active roster in Toronto, were returned to Triple-A Iowa.
- Then, Estrada was added to the 40-man roster and called up to the 28-man roster.
- To make room for Estrada on the 40-man roster, Wade Miley was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
- David Bote was recalled from Iowa to the 28-man active roster.
For Miley, who threw 54 pitches in a rehab assignment for South Bend Wednesday, this probably ends his season and tenure with the Cubs. Miley made four starts for the Cubs and pitched reasonably well (2.84 ERA, 1.211 WHIP), but he just couldn’t stay healthy. Claiming his $10 million contract from the Reds last November was a reasonable gamble; it just didn’t work out.
That leaves the Cubs with the following players on the active roster:
Starting pitchers (5): Adrian Sampson, Drew Smyly, Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Javier Assad (listed in likely rotation order beginning Friday)
Relief pitchers (9): Jeremiah Estrada, Luke Farrell, Brandon Hughes, Mark Leiter Jr., Sean Newcomb, Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Rucker, Erich Uelmen, Rowan Wick (listed in alphabetical order)
Catchers (3): Willson Contreras, Yan Gomes, P.J. Higgins
Infielders (5): David Bote, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal, Zach McKinstry, Alfonso Rivas
Outfielders (6): Ian Happ, Christopher Morel, Rafael Ortega, Franmil Reyes, Seiya Suzuki, Nelson Velázquez
There will be several more moves upcoming in September, the way I see it. Patrick Wisdom is eligible to come off the injured list Monday. There’s been no word on whether he’ll be activated then, but whenever that does happen, I’d expect either Bote or Rivas to be sent to Iowa (both have options).
Adbert Alzolay is currently on a rehab assignment with Iowa. When he’s activated, I would expect either Farrell or Newcomb to be designated for assignment. Personally, I would like to see Alzolay get opportunities to close games. I think he’s a strong candidate to be the Cubs’ closer in 2023.
Steven Brault was placed on the 15-day injured list August 24 with a shoulder strain. There’s been no word on if/when he’ll return, but if he does, either Farrell or Newcomb would be let go. It’s also possible the Cubs could DFA Anderson Espinoza to make room on the 40-man roster. Even though Espinoza has struggled at times in his MLB stints, he’s got more of a chance to be on the 2023 Cubs than Farrell or Newcomb, who are both placeholders.
Keegan Thompson has been throwing bullpens and is eligible to return from the injured list September 4. Whenever he’s activated... well, that’s a good question. I suppose the Cubs could option Assad back to Iowa and put Thompson back in the rotation, but given the likely desire to limit Thompson’s innings the rest of the way, having him “piggyback” with Assad might be a good idea. There’s been no word on when Thompson might return and they could send him on a rehab assignment, as the Triple-A season runs through the end of September.
That appears to be it as far as Cubs on the injured list who could return before the 2022 season ends. Thought you’d like to discuss further as we await the Cubs/Cardinals series to begin Friday evening. As always, we await developments.