Quick Take on the Roster Implications of the Matt Garza Trade

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Quick Take on the Roster Implications of the Matt Garza Trade

Chicago Cubs

chris rusin cubsWhen a major trade is made, there are generally three elements of the process for us: (1) reporting/dissecting of the deal (we’ve been doing that dance for days now, until Garza to the Rangers was reported this afternoon); (2) analysis of the deal and the pieces in the deal (that’ll come later); and (3), the unsexist part: the roster stuff.

This is that unsexy part.

With Garza on his way to Texas, the most obvious and immediate roster-related implication is the hole in the rotation. Unlike when Scott Feldman was traded to Baltimore, the Cubs don’t have a replacement in the bullpen waiting to take over (Carlos Villanueva). For tonight, Garza’s replacement is Chris Rusin, who is having himself another nice season down at AAA Iowa, but who does not project as a long-term piece of the rotation. It’s possible that Rusin will grab the job, and carry it forward from here on out.

It seems at least as likely that Justin Grimm, the 24-year-old righty whom the Cubs will receive in the Garza deal, will slot into the rotation eventually. He was recently bumped out of Texas’ rotation (although they really needed Garza, they were actually deep in guys like Grimm), partly due to some forearm concerns. He’s heading to AAA Iowa for now, and he could stay there for most of the year, could eventually be put in the big league pen, or could join the Cubs’ rotation later this year.

The other possibility is that Jake Arrieta, who has been starting at AAA after coming over in the aforementioned Feldman deal, will be called up. He’s going to join the rotation at some point this year, I’d expect, and it could come sooner rather than later. Brooks Raley is another possibility, as is Alberto Cabrera, mostly because they are starting pitchers on the 40-man roster.

Pending the team’s evaluation of what’s best for Grimm, I’d tentatively expect Rusin to get the job in the short-term, with Arrieta or Grimm possibly taking it as we get into August. They might not get the gig, though, if Scott Baker – remember him? – is ready to make his debut with the Cubs after a long Tommy John rehab. He’s currently making rehab starts with Kane County, and they’ve not gone well so far.

As for Garza’s spot on the 25-man roster, again, for today, it’s Rusin. Ultimately, it’ll be whichever pitcher replaces him full-time in the rotation (though with so many options on the 40-man roster, the Cubs could mix and match for a while).

Speaking of the 40-man roster, there actually aren’t any implications in this trade by my count. The 40-man stood at 39 before this trade, and with Mike Olt and Justin Grimm added (the third player in the deal, C.J. Edwards, will not need to be added), it’ll soon stand at an even 40.

And speaking of Olt, I do expect that he’ll initially head to AAA to keep starting at third base there (yup). Depending on how the Trade Deadline shakes out for the Cubs (Luis Valbuena could conceivably be dealt, as well as Darwin Barney (with Valbuena sliding over to second); or Cody Ransom could be dealt, opening up the right-handed side of the third base platoon), Olt could be up with the Cubs in the second half. If he stays at Iowa – and stays in the Cubs’ organization – he’ll be the primary third baseman there, which raises the Josh Vitters question. Vitters is finally healthy, it seems, but there have always been questions about his ability to stick at third base long-term. If Olt stays and is not promoted soon, Vitters could be rotated among first base and left field, or he could be sent out of the organization (perhaps for international pool money or a second round compensatory draft pick? I’m just spitballin’).

Because this is trade season, so much of what happens on the roster is contingent on the next ten days’ worth of moves.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.