Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Today the Chicago Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers from the A’s, and in a corresponding move, designated Blake DeWitt for assignment.

Sort of wow.

First on Cardenas. The 24-year-old former top prospect put up great numbers in the PCL last year (AAA), but then again, who didn’t? (I’m being a bit unfair: he’s had good numbers at other levels as well – he just doesn’t have any power.)

Cardenas plays all over the field, but would likely focus on the middle infield with the Cubs. Cardenas hasn’t yet had a shot to make it in the bigs, and, given his relative youth, could still offer some upside. We’ll have more on Cardenas soon, though he was discussed here briefly when he was designated for assignment a week and a half ago. Cardenas bats lefty (like DeWitt), so it’s fair to wonder whether he might steal some starts at second base.

On DeWitt, this is something of a surprise – but at the same time not.

Back in December, I openly wondered whether DeWitt would even be tendered a contract by the Cubs, so I suppose de-rostering him now isn’t all that shocking. On the other hand, the Cubs did tender DeWitt a contract, suggesting they were planning to keep him in the mix for 2012 – perhaps even getting another shot to start at second base.

By designated DeWitt for assignment, the Cubs have removed him from the 40-man roster, and will have 10 days to trade him, release him, or place him on waivers. If they place him on waivers, he can be claimed by another team (who will have to put him on their 40-man roster, and take on his $1.1 million salary for 2012). If waived, it’s very hard to see DeWitt not being claimed. If he’s not claimed, it’s somewhat hard to see the Cubs paying him $1.1 million to be AAA depth. In that case, the Cubs would probably release DeWitt, and another team would sign him, saving the Cubs about $500k (which is about what they’ll spend on Cardenas if he makes the roster).

A trade is still possible within the next 10 days.

DeWitt was the centerpiece when Jim Hendry unloaded Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot on the Dodgers at the deadline in 2010. A former decent prospect, DeWitt was a guy who could play beautiful defense at third base, but never had the bat for the position. And his glove never quite developed at second – worse, his bat totally left him in his early days with the Cubs, robbing him of a chance to take over full-time at second base.

Ultimately, the Cubs are not a whole lot better or worse after this move, but they might save about $600k and get a little upside in the process.

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