Yesterday’s trade involved a couple players on the 40-man roster, Dan Vogelbach and Mike Montgomery, so their swapped spots on the 40-man roster won’t be an issue when Montgomery is officially added to the Cubs for tomorrow night’s opener in Milwaukee.
Vogelbach, however, was not on the 25-man roster (the active big league roster), so that means the Cubs will need to open up a spot for Montgomery, who will immediately slide into the bullpen.
But his isn’t the only spot that will be needed.
With a couple games under his belt yesterday in Iowa, Dexter Fowler is already on his way back to Chicago today with an eye toward returning to the big league team tomorrow (many report links). Assuming Fowler is cleared by the Cubs today for a return tomorrow, that means the Cubs will need to open two spots on the 25-man roster.
That shouldn’t be too difficult, though, as we consider some of the Cubs’ optionable players, and look at the positions Fowler and Montgomery will be covering.
On the positional side, although Albert Almora has shown himself to be big league ready with the glove (and then some), it’s not hard to see the Cubs now opting to send him back to AAA Iowa for regular starts. There, he can take some of the things he picked up during his extended stay in the big leagues, continue to work at the plate, and very likely return come September. What a defensive weapon he’ll be off the bench, eh?
On the pitching side, assuming the Cubs aren’t interested in DFA’ing/waiving anyone right now (and risking losing them to another team for nothing), the relievers with minor league options remaining include Spencer Patton, Adam Warren, and Carl Edwards Jr. Given how Edwards has been used in high-leverage spots over the past couple weeks, I’m thinking he’s not going anywhere right now. Warren, too, would seem to be safe based on pedigree, but I suppose it’s at least plausible, that he could head back to Iowa to stretch back out again.
I think it’s more likely, though, that it’ll be Patton heading back to Iowa. His numbers thus far in the big leagues (in a tiny sample) have been mixed at best, with his command eluding him. He also hasn’t been used since July 9.
Even in the very short-term, it’s going to get a touch trickier, though.* That’s because, despite a recent rough outing at Iowa, most believe Joe Nathan will be joining the big league bullpen as soon as this weekend. In that case, someone else will have to be moved out, and the same names will be under consideration. It’s also possible the Cubs will elect at that point to consider DFA’ing a pitcher without minor league options left, but that would be only if the Cubs decide they absolutely cannot afford to be without one of the arms with options left. The Cubs may have to get creative, especially if and when other trades are made.
It looked like Brian Matusz would also be coming soon, though the Montgomery acquisition makes the picture for his elevation to the big leagues look a little murkier. It’s possible the Cubs will wait until after the Trade Deadline to see how the rest of the roster shook out, and then make a decision on how to proceed with Matusz, who has been pitching very well since coming to the Cubs and finding some mechanical fixes. Matusz is scheduled to start tomorrow for the Iowa Cubs.
*(And, as we discussed earlier in the week, soon Trevor Cahill and Jorge Soler will also enter the picture, though the Cubs may allow them to work on things at Iowa until/after trade season does some additional roster sorting for them.)