It’s looking increasingly official that the Cubs will be adding lefty reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from the Tigers, a package deal that addresses the two areas that you would have wanted to see the Cubs address at this Trade Deadline. So well done, chaps.
As far as the immediate roster implications go, the Cubs will need to open up a 40-man roster spot to accommodate both Wilson and Avila – the roster is currently full, and although one spot will come from Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes was not on the 40-man roster. The Cubs have a number of fringe guys on the 40-man they could designate for assignment if necessary, so I’m not terribly concerned about opening up a spot at this time.
For the 25-man roster, Avila’s spot is easy to project, as he will become the back-up catcher, and the Cubs will option Victor Caratini back to AAA Iowa to get more regular work. When rosters expand in September to the full 40-man, and the minor league seasons end, Caratini will be back.
Wilson’s spot in the bullpen figures to come from Justin Grimm, who can be optioned to Iowa for now – either until there is a need or injury, or until rosters expand in September. It’s a bummer that options work out that way for players, but you could make the case that Grimm is the most appropriate pitcher to slide out right now anyway. Consider that the rest of the bullpen is:
- Wade Davis
- Carl Edwards Jr.
- Hector Rondon
- Pedro Strop
- Brian Duensing
- Koji Uehara
- Mike Montgomery
None of those guys is going anywhere, nor should they.
The addition of Wilson gives the Cubs a killer set of arms, to say nothing of late-season protection against injury or ineffectiveness elsewhere in the bullpen.
Avila can be a quality back-up for the Cubs, and match-up optimized: although he’s hit a woeful .176/.348/.176 (61 wRC+) against fellow lefties this year, he’s basically been Kris Bryant against righties: 279/.396/.498 (140 wRC+).