I hope you enjoyed following the transactions of the NL Central with me this season. I doubt I would have done this in a normal year, but given the importance of the division matchups this season, I thought it would be worthwhile to follow the moves of our division foes. With 4 out of the 5 clubs in the division making the postseason, hopefully these articles have helped you size up potential opponents. Here is the final installment, which covers the roster moves for the past week. When the other NL Central clubs announce their postseason rosters, I will post and analyze those. Let me know in the comments if you found any of this useful, and if you would like to see similar analysis of NL Central clubs next season.
9/24/20: Placed RHP Freddy Peralta on the paternity leave list. Recalled LHP Eric Lauer from the ATS.
9/25/20: Placed RHP Corbin Burnes on the 10-day IL (left oblique strain). Recalled UT Ryon Healy from the ATS. Added RHP J.P. Feyereisen as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader and returned him to the ATS after the 2nd game.
Burnes had to leave his start against the Cardinals on September 24th after only 3.2 IP. At first the club thought it might be back tightness, but an MRI revealed an oblique injury. This left Burnes one out shy of qualifying for the ERA title. This is unfortunate all the way around, because Burnes will be unavailable for the Wild Card Series, and probably the Division Series as well if the Brewers get that far. Burnes has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this year, using his new cutter to great effect with his sinker. He’s near the top of the National League pitchers in WAR, K/9 and several other categories.
9/26/20: Optioned LHP Eric Lauer to the ATS. Activated RHP Freddy Peralta from the paternity leave list.
9/21/20: Placed IF Ildemaro Vargas on the 10-day IL, retroactive to September 20th (right hamstring strain). Recalled RHP Adbert Alzolay from the ATS.
9/22/20: Optioned LHP Rex Brothers to the ATS. Activated LHP Jose Quintana from the 10-day IL.
Brothers was optioned to make room for Quintana’s start basically because he had an option left. It is also an unfortunate coincidence for him that this option will stop him from accruing 5 years of major league service, which would prevent him from being sent to the minor leagues without his consent. He will be out of options next season, and his future role with the club is in doubt.
9/25/20: Optioned 1B/DH Jose Martinez to the ATS. Purchased the contract of IF Patrick Wisdom from the ATS. To make room for Wisdom on the 40-man roster, recalled RHP Manuel Rodriguez from the AAA Iowa reserve list and placed him on the 45-day IL. 40-man roster still full.
It looks like the Jose Martinez experiment didn’t work out too well. In 22 PA with the club, he went 0 for 21 with 1 BB and 7 SO. With Bryant having an oblique problem, Ildemaro Vargas on the IL and David Bote fighting minor injury issues as well, the Cubs might have felt more comfortable adding someone who could play 3B instead of carrying basically a DH-only player on the roster. Wisdom also broke in with the Cardinals in 2018 after being a long-time farmhand of theirs. He had serious strikeout issues in the minor leagues to go along with power, and he has since bounced from the Cards to the Rangers and Mariners. He last saw major league action with the Rangers in 2019, and struck out 15 times out of his 28 trips to the plate. He signed a major league deal with the Mariners to start 2020, but was optioned before the season and released on August 14th before signing a minor league deal with the Cubs.
To make room for Wisdom, the Cubs employed an old-school gambit that clubs used to use to create extra playoff-eligible spots. Rodriguez is on the 40-man roster but was optioned to the minor leagues all the way before the transaction freeze. He has been dealing with a biceps issue, so the cubs officially recalled him to the majors and then immediately placed him on the major league 45-day IL to create a 40-man spot. And all it cost them was to give Rodriguez 3 days of major league service time and major league pay.
9/27/20: Designated IF Patrick Wisdom for assignment. Purchased the contract of LHP Brailyn Marquez. 40-man roster still full.
That didn’t last long for Wisdom as he pinch hit for Rizzo twice with no hits and stayed in the 9/25 and 9/26 games at first base after pinch hitting late in the game. I guess the Cubs felt like they had enough infielders to get through. Marquez is the club’s stud 21-year old left-handed prospect who throws about 100 mph. Signed at 16 years old out of the Dominican Republic in August of 2015, he topped out at Class-Advanced last year and has been a starter the entire time. The club liked the way he pitched at the ATS and wanted to get a look at him for possible postseason action. And since he would have to be added to the 40-man roster this upcoming November for Rule 5 draft protection anyway, and the Cubs have already clinched the #3 seed in the playoffs, today would be a good time for the coaching staff to give him a spin and see what he can do.
9/21/20: Claimed RHP Carson Fulmer on outright assignment waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. Placed OF Jason Martin on the 10-day IL (upper back strain). Purchased the contract of OF Jared Oliva from the ATS. To make room for Oliva on the 40-man roster, transferred RHP Yacksel Rios from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL.
Fulmer has been on a roller coaster this year, starting with the Tigers, being claimed by the Pirates on waivers, then being claimed on waivers by the Orioles without him getting to pitch for the Pirates. The Orioles put him into 3 games, where he walked 2 against 4 strikeouts with 2 wild pitches and 1 hit batter. He allowed no hits over 3.2 IP, but Baltimore did not want to commit a roster spot to a player that was out of options, so the Pirates are now claiming him back. Since he is out of options, the Pirates will have to make a roster move whenever he reports and will have to carry him on the active roster next season if they keep him around. It’s possible that he could not report this season at all, I suppose, although that would be contrary to what usually happens.
Oliva was the club’s 7th round draft choice in 2017, and has part of the Pirates’ Club Player Pool at the Alternate Training Site from the beginning of the season. He topped out at AA last season, where his .277/.352/.398 line was good for a 123 wRC+, and he’s topped 30 steals for two seasons in a row. He’ll get a look in center field, which is his natural position.
9/24/20: Transferred OF Cole Tucker from the 7-day IL to the 10-day IL.
9/27/20: Placed C Jacob Stallings on the 7-day IL (concussion). Purchased the contract of C Andrew Susac from the ATS. To make room on the 40-man roster, transferred RHP Keone Kela from the 10-day IL to the 45-day IL. 40-man roster still full.
This is an odd transaction to make on the last day of the regular season, but Stallings was hit in the head by a backswing in yesterday’s game and had to be placed in the concussion protocol. According to the Pittsburgh writers, Susac was considered a leader at the ATS, so this was considered a type of reward for him. Originally a 2nd round draft choice of the Giants in 2011, he made his major league debut with the Giants in 2014, and has seen major league time with the Giants, Brewers and Orioles. He was outrighted to the minors by the Orioles before the 2019 season, and then traded to the Royals, but didn’t see major league action last season. He then signed a minor league deal with the Pirates for 2020. He will be 31 years old next season and is out of options, but will still not be eligible for arbitration.
9/22/20: Designated RHP Nate Jones for assignment. Activated RHP Sonny Gray from the 10-day IL. 40-man roster at 39.
Jones didn’t necessarily pitch poorly, but he got rocked around the yard with over 12 hits per 9 and a .400 BABIP. Although his HR rate was high, he had an xFIP right in the range of other relievers on the roster.
9/23/20: Optioned C Tyler Stephenson to the ATS. Activated LHP Wade Miley from the 10-day IL.
Miley was supposed to a regular part of the rotation, but he was only able to start 4 games due to injuries. It’s safe to say his season has been a disappointment. He’s been on the IL since August 28th, and has since been supplanted by Tyler Mahle in the rotation. He will apparently pitch out of the bullpen from here on out.
9/25/20: Released RHP Nate Jones.