Chicago Cubs Creative Roster Moves: Zagunis and Garcia Called Up, Zagunis to the 60-Day DL

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Chicago Cubs Creative Roster Moves: Zagunis and Garcia Called Up, Zagunis to the 60-Day DL

Chicago Cubs

I realize now, with this latest roster move, that the way we discuss the September 1st MLB roster expansions can sometimes be a little confusing. So before we discuss today’s moves, I’d like to point out that when rosters expand on September 1st, they do not expand to include anyone in the organization. They expand from the daily 25-man roster to the full 40-man roster. So you have to have your own space on the 40-man roster to be called up. Got it? Cool.

Relatedly, if you’re on the 40-man roster, but get placed on the big-league 60-day disabled list, you’re removed from the roster for the duration of your injury, thus freeing up a spot. Got that too? Alright, you’re ready to go.

Here’s the latest:

Earlier today, the Cubs called up Mark Zagunis, who *was* on the 40-man roster but not up with the Cubs in Chicago … so they could immediately move him to the 60-Day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. By doing so, they freed up a spot on the previously full 40-man roster, for the player they really hoped to call up, newly acquired pitcher Jaime Garcia.

Here’s what Brett had to say about Garcia, when the Cubs acquired him just four days ago:

Garcia, 32, had basically been pretty solid the last few years after finally returning from some seasons lost in the injury wilderness. This year with the Blue Jays, however, was a massive disappointment, and he was recently released. Garcia’s walk rate climbed over 10%, his previously elite groundball rate plummeted, and he started giving up homers at a hellacious clip.

That said, at a minimum, Garcia was still really tough on lefties this year: .183/.250/.388, 24.7% K rate, 6.7% BB rate. My guess is the Cubs believe he’s still got something in the tank, perhaps with a tweak or two.

When he’s in the big leagues, Garcia will cost the Cubs just the prorated big league minimum (which the Blue Jays would then save), so it’s not really much of a cost move. It would be some more lefty depth for the rotation and/or the bullpen – can’t have too much, and, when rosters expand tomorrow, it’s not too hard to accommodate when the time comes to bring him up to the big leagues.

A cheap lefty who has struggled overall, but continues to handle southpaws well enough to warrant an extra look in September, before potentially being added to the postseason roster because his deal was struck before September 1st. Cool. Brett nailed it.

As for the “not too hard to accommodate part,” well, as you can see things are a little more complicated than that. Yes, the Cubs were able to pull off this move simply enough, but it does come at a cost. For one, Zagunis’ season is over. I doubt he was going to be much of a threat in September – let alone a roster spot -but he has already debuted and seems like he could be a useful bench piece at some point. For another, more important point, his service time clock has officially begun ticking again.

I doubt it’ll ultimately be much of a consideration, but these extra 26 days or so of big league service time could come back to bite the Cubs, and force them to lose an entire year of control/reach arbitration one year earlier. Again, given his future projections, it’s probably not a huge loss, but it’s not a total non-factor either.

But I suppose that’s a worry for another day. Today, the Cubs got another lefty for the pen and the 40-man roster is full once again.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami