When the Chicago Cubs designated lefty Zac Rosscup for assignment last week to make room on the 40-man roster for Mark Zagunis, I’ll admit up front that I assumed he was going to be waived, and I even thought there was a fair chance he would make it through waivers and the Cubs might have a chance to retain him.
Although Rosscup, 29, had flashed success in small doses in the past at the big league level, he’d never quite consistently broken through. Moreover, he lost all of last season to a shoulder injury. I figured there was a reason the Cubs had opted to designate an effective AAA lefty arm, and I figured that reason probably had to do with a belief that he could make it through waivers.
I was wrong about that. Because whether he was ultimately claimed by the Rockies or the Cubs knew in advance that they wanted him, the Cubs were able to trade Rosscup to Colorado for a legitimate return. In retrospect, it wouldn’t surprise me if Rosscup’s name came up in the Eddie Butler trade talks in the offseason, and the Cubs already had a sense that they could have a Rosscup trade partner out there.
The Cubs traded Rosscup for 25-year-old righty Matt Carasiti, who is, in paper, a whole lot more than you would have expected in a trade like this.
To be sure, Carasiti projects as a big league middle reliever, probably the kind that gets shuttled up and down a bit – I don’t want to create unrealistic expectations – but that is a guy with real value, and Carasiti looks like he has the potential to be a good one.
A 6th round pick in the 2012 draft, Carasiti struggled as a starting pitcher in the lower minors, and then took off when he was converted to the bullpen, rising from High-A at the end of 2015 all the way to the big leagues last year. His cup of coffee with the Rockies, however, was sufficiently disappointing that he was taken off the 40-man roster at the end of last season, and then re-signed to a minor league deal.* Although he’d been fantastic at AA and AAA, Carasiti posted a 9.19 ERA over 15.2 innings, which was largely driven by a nutso .471 BABIP. He struck out 20.5% of the batters he faced and walked 13.3%. The numbers were not good, but not shockingly bad, either.
Back at AAA this year in the Rockies organization, Carasiti has dominated: 2.37 ERA (despite a .395 BABIP), 51.4% groundball rate, 32.3% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate.
I wish Rosscup the best with the Rockies, who may use him immediately as a LOOGY, but this was a good trade for the Cubs, even if you set aside the roster implications (Carasiti doesn’t require a 40-man roster spot right now).
Well done, Cubs. Carasiti may or may not contribute to the big league team this year, but it’s nice to have another option there at AAA, just in case.
*(One of the limitations of Carasiti’s value, because he was already rostered and then de-rostered on the 40-man, is that he is set to be a free agent at the end of this season. The Cubs will have the opportunity to put him on the 40-man roster if they want to keep him, but otherwise, he’ll be able to choose his next organization like any other minor league free agent.)