With Trevor Cahill coming up big yesterday as the “26th man” for the doubleheader – that’s the rule (you get a 26th player on doubleheader days) – the Cubs now have a roster move to make to get back down to 25 before tonight’s game against the Brewers.
Normally in these situations, the move is completely rote, as the guy who came up for the doubleheader, often a fill-in starter like Cahill, just goes right back down to the minors. Cahill, however, was not called up to the Cubs. He was activated from the disabled list. So, then, the Cubs can’t simply put him back on the disabled list unless he’s actually injured. Even if the Cubs could, would they want to? Cahill was excellent yesterday, and he was very good for them out of the bullpen last year. In theory, he’s a guy they want on the roster anyway, especially if the Cubs have to skip a John Lackey start or put him on the DL.
So, then, if Cahill is to stay, the Cubs will have to move someone else out. It could very well be a DL stint for Lackey, who left his last start with shoulder tightness. Although Lackey might not be seriously injured, a DL stint would give him time to rest, right on into the first week of September, when rosters expand. Joe Maddon wouldn’t commit to anything on Lackey yesterday, acknowledging only that there is a chance his next start could be pushed back (Cubs.com).
If Cahill is to stay and Lackey doesn’t go on the DL, then the Cubs will have to either option someone like Justin Grimm or Carl Edwards Jr. (or, less likely, a position player) to AAA Iowa or DFA someone like Joe Smith. Losing any reliever right after a doubleheader in favor of a guy who threw 5.0 innings and won’t be available for at least a couple days can be tough. But Smith has looked downright awful in his two weeks with the Cubs, and it’s possible they will be willing to let him go at this point. That’s far from a lock, though, since we know that keeping as much depth as possible is still a priority.
And then you’ve got the possibility that Cahill is optioned to Iowa for a couple weeks until rosters expand in September. The only catch there is that, because of service time, Cahill has the right to refuse the assignment to Iowa and instead elect free agency. Would he do that, knowing that he’d lose the money left on his 2016 deal with the Cubs (and hope to make it up with his new team)? Or would he accept the option, knowing that he’d be right back with the Cubs in two weeks?
After the Tommy La Stella situation, I don’t assume anything when it comes to players “obviously” being willing to go down for a little bit to accommodate the roster (and, of course, it’s worth noting that Cahill has the contractual right to refuse the assignment).
In the end, there are so many possibilities today for the roster, all of them reasonable and defensible (especially depending on Lackey’s shoulder, and the organizational evaluation of Smith’s struggles).