Well how about that. A day after I went to reasonable lengths to explain why it wouldn’t make much sense for the Cubs to claim waived Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon …
The Cubs went and claimed him. He announced the move himself on Twitter with an excited “Chicago Cubs!!!” tweet. What do I know.
The 27-year-old center fielder bats lefty and certainly gives the Cubs an abundance of fringy outfield options to work with during/after the expected midseason purge. Even after moving, for example, Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus, the Cubs now have enough cover, with Borbon and Ryan Sweeney (currently crushing at AAA), that they wouldn’t have to rush Brett Jackson if he’s still not ready for a full-time job in the bigs. They’ve also still got Brian Bogusevic down at Iowa, too. Obviously the outfield production in a post-DeJesus/Soriano world would be brutal, but that’s to be expected. At least guys like Borbon and Sweeney are interesting.
As for Borbon, himself, he’s had a number of chances to establish himself in the bigs with the Rangers and hasn’t been able to make it work. After being selected 35th overall by the Rangers in 2007, Borbon was signed to a Major League deal (that paid him decent money and rushed him to the Majors), and never had a whole lot of time to develop in the minors. He hit decently there, and played quality center field. He doesn’t have much pop, but he’s got speed and doesn’t strike out. As a bench outfielder, he could be a very good one. Even as a fill-in starter, he could be acceptable.
The logistics of the claim: Borbon is out of options, so, if the Cubs intend on keeping Borbon, they’ll have to put him on the 25-man roster immediately. Otherwise, they could now try and waive him, themselves, and hope he clears (he’s already made it through the American League, and past the Astros). As far as the 40-man goes, someone will have to be booted to accommodate Borbon, and it could be – for example – new arrival Cody Ransom.
I’ll have a lot more on Borbon when his place on the roster shakes out. This could be the start of a significant shakeup, either by way of someone like Dave Sappelt going on waivers himself, or by way of a trade involving someone like David DeJesus within the next couple weeks. Obviously the former is far more likely than the latter, but the glut of outfielders – especially lefties – at the AAA/MLB level is becoming noteworthy.
UPDATE: To make room for Borbon on the 25-man and 40-man rosters, infielder Alberto Gonzalez has been designated for assignment. He wasn’t long for the roster anyway with Darwin Barney back and Ian Stewart coming back soon. This gives the Cubs at least a week or two – until Stewart returns – to figure out how to solve the outfield glut. I expect they’ll be doing some hard shopping. In the meantime, the infield depth on the 25-man roster is incredibly thin. It’s pretty much Cody Ransom and the starters.