Chris Coghlan has certainly had one of those years, hasn’t he?
After two consecutive and successful seasons with the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and 2015 (his first in a while), Coghlan came into Spring Training 2016 with a fair shot at earning some serious playing time on a serious contender.
Of course, a last minute re-signing of Dexter Fowler threw a wrench in those plans, and Coghlan was shipped out – immediately – to Oakland.
With the A’s, Coghlan struggled mightily, as he watched his former team climb through the standings of the NL Central from afar. But then, on June 9, a myriad of injuries led Coghlan right back to the Cubs, as they traded prospect Arismendy Alcantara to reacquire his left-handed bat for the outfield.
Fortunately, upon his return, things began looking up for Coghlan. And in just shy of 50 plate appearances, he found himself walking 17.8% of the time and working a .356 OBP. Unfortunately, he hit the DL on July 3 with a rib cage injury. After a short rehab stint in the Minors (in which he slashed .500/.619/.750 with a 23.8% walk rate and a 4.8% strikeout rate … yeah), Coghlan was recalled to the Cubs … at the expense of Tommy La Stella (that was the start of that, by the way).
In his first 24 plate appearances back from the DL (and the Minor Leagues), Coghlan slashed a very nice .278/.417/.389, thanks to identical (and equally impressive) 16.7% strikeout and walk rates. Unfortunately (I feel like I’ve said that a lot in this post) Coghlan once again was forced to the disabled list with a rib contusion on August 17.
After yet another short stint in the Minors (where once again dominated in a small sample size – 203 wRC+), Coghlan is finally rejoining the Cubs tonight (hopefully for the final time). He’s right back into the lineup, too, starting in left.
And hey, with rosters expanding today to include anyone on the 40-man roster, no corresponding moves will be necessary!
It’s easy to be not super-duper excited about Coghlan’s return today, given the breakout performance from Willson Contreras, the continuously improving production from Jorge Soler, the bouncing back of Jason Heyward, and the return of Tommy La Stella’s left-handed bat, but there is plenty to be happy about nonetheless.
First and foremost, Coghlan hasn’t been all that bad with the Cubs this season. In just under 70 plate appearances, he has a .377 OBP and a 97 wRC+. In other words, despite two unexpected trades, two separate trips to the disabled list (plus Minor League Rehab starts), and an entirely inconsistent playing schedule, Coghlan has still managed to be just below a league average bat. When you consider how good he is against right handed hitters in general, then, the match-up advantages his bat presents should be plenty interesting.
And remember, Coghlan isn’t likely to draw many starts at this point, tonight notwithstanding, given the (seemingly ever increasing) mounds of talent already on the roster. He’s here to help out when and where he can, mostly off the bench, and picking up periodic starts. Plus, of course, you never know what might happen over the next month of the season.
So you should be excited for the Cubs to carry a capable, patient, left-handed outfield bat on the bench (one who was worth 5.7 WAR from 2014-2015) – especially now that rosters have expanded. Quality depth and match-up-ability are important elements to a team with lofty postseason aspirations.
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