A couple weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs designated infielder Blake DeWitt for assignment.
That is, of course, a technical baseball phrase, indicating a very specific type of transaction, which involves a multilayered procedure, spanning 10 days, that can result in any number of outcomes ranging from a trade to a release to a waiver claim to an assignment to a minor league team. It’s not an uncomplicated thing.
When the Cubs so designated DeWitt a couple weeks ago in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Adrian Cardenas, no one knows for sure what outcome they were rooting for. Even DeWitt didn’t know.
In fact, according to DeWitt, he didn’t even really know what was going on. And he didn’t get a call from the Cubs.
“My agent called me,” DeWitt explained in Mesa today, according to Carrie Muskat. “It was all unknown to me. I didn’t know what was going on, I didn’t know the rules. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t too worried about it, I guess.”
I’m not going to assume that it isn’t protocol for these things to be communicated by way of a player’s agent, but I will confess that I’m surprised to learn that DeWitt wasn’t contacted directly when he was designated for assignment. I would have expected a phone call from Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer, explaining what was happening, why it was happening, and what the possible outcomes were. Again, I don’t know the protocol. Maybe that phone call never happens. If it doesn’t, it kind of seems like it should.
After the designation, DeWitt was placed on, and cleared, waivers, and accepted an assignment to AAA Iowa. He also accepted a non-roster invite to Spring Training, where he arrived earlier today.
“I had a decision to make and I’m extremely happy being here today,” DeWitt said. “Driving out here, it was one of those things, I’m ready to get back on the field, ready to get back to playing. That’s one of the things that I think was weird about the whole situation. This time of year as a player, you’re ready to get back on the field, and to not know where you’re going to be was kind of strange.”
To his credit, DeWitt was ready to fight for a job whether he was a rostered player or a non-roster invitee.
“It’s no different,” he said. “Regardless, you’re coming in to win a job. It’s the same approach I’m going to take. I’m not going to put any stress on myself to try to make this team. I’m just going to go out and play and have fun and let things happen.”
DeWitt has a battle ahead of him this Spring, not only with Cardenas, but also other infield back-up competitors, including Bobby Scales, Edgar Gonzalez and Matt Tolbert. It’s hard to imagine the Cubs carrying more than one from that group (with a five-man bench including a back-up catcher, two outfielders, and Jeff Baker), and DeWitt doesn’t play shortstop.