When Carl Edwards Jr. returned from the bereavement list earlier this week, the Cubs were set for the same roster crunch they faced at the end of Spring Training: eight relievers, Matt Szczur out of options, and Tommy La Stella having previously declined to go to AAA Iowa when optioned (and arguably a better fit for the bench than Szczur).
Instead of having to make any kind of permanent decision, though, La Stella, himself, headed to the bereavement list after a death in the family. But now he, too, is ready to return, and the Cubs will have to make a decision about how to proceed with the roster.
And it sounds like, once again, he’ll be the one involved in a roster move:
Signs point to La Stella optioned to Iowa on Saturday unless an injury surfaces
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) April 21, 2017
Before the season, there was at least some level of confirmation from La Stella that, unlike last August, if he were optioned to AAA Iowa this time around, he would go. So the Cubs must have comfort in that regard, because the only reason you’d option La Stella in the first place is to ensure that you get to keep as many players in the organization as possible.
How long would La Stella be down? Well, it could be a matter of putting together a long-rumored trade involving Szczur, or it could be a decision to go back to seven in the bullpen if the starters start going a little deeper, or it could be the ever-looming possibility that someone else gets hurt.
So far this year, the Cubs have needed the extra reliever more than they’ve needed the extra bench man, so if there is no injury or trade, it’s conceivable that La Stella could be in Iowa for a bit. How the I-Cubs would coordinate the need to keep La Stella sharp with the development needs of Ian Happ and Jeimer Candelario will be interesting to follow.