It was the right couple days to write about Matt Szczur’s great spring, and the roster crunch that the Cubs are currently facing at the end of their bench.
Central to those pieces, of course, is the question of what the Cubs will do with Szczur, who is out of minor league options, and may not be quite as perfect a bench fit as Tommy La Stella (who does have minor league options, but who may not reliably report to AAA Iowa if optioned). If they expose him to waivers, it’s almost impossible to imagine him not being claimed by a rebuilding team that could give him a look as a starter (he does have starter upside), or even by a competitive team that wants to upgrade at the 4th/5th outfielder spot (not every contender is as fortunate as the Cubs to have such extreme positional versatility around the roster).
If the Cubs do decide they cannot keep Szczur on the 25-man roster to open the season, and do not want to risk waiving him, then there’s only one other possibility:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 21, 2017
The Braves, of course, would very much be one of those rebuilding teams that is in a position to what-the-heck-why-not themselves into a waiver claim if Szczur were made available.
As a trade partner, should it come to that, the Braves make a ton of sense, given their extreme pitching prospect depth. Not only that, but the Braves currently have Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis in the corners, each on pricey contracts and in the declines phases of their career. If a guy like Szczur arrived and looked good, he would not be blocked by either of them for too long.
Perhaps the Braves just remember the time Szczur burned them for a grand slam last year.
The fit also makes sense for the simple fact that, if Szczur were moved out, the Cubs do already feature a great deal of quality reserve outfield depth at AAA Iowa. As much as we all may like Szczur, this could be a situation where the best for all sides is a trade.
Interesting that Rosenthal’s report includes the note that the Cubs are “expected” to keep Szczur – while that certainly may be true (they could try to option La Stella, or could start the season with only seven in the bullpen), it is also the message you would expect to be coming out of the Cubs right now if they were trying to find a suitable home via trade for Szczur.
Opening Day is a little under two weeks away at this point, so we’ll be finding some things out soon.