Whoa. Didn’t see this coming now. A month or two ago? Maybe. But just two weeks before rosters expand to the full 40-man? Maybe the malaise had just set in. I really didn’t expect Albert Almora to be sent down at this point.
But today, after more than a year of deep, deep struggles at the plate (and possible steps back in the outfield, too), Almora is headed to Iowa. On the year, he’s hitting just .243/.275/.396 with a 69 wRC+, which means he’s been about 31% worse than league average.
Almora is still just 25, and there could be development ahead for him. I would think he’ll return in September for roster expansion thanks to the glove, but it’s at least on the table now that he’ll be in for the Ian Happ treatment next year (i.e., back at Iowa to work on some serious deficiencies).
For now, Almora will be replaced on the roster by Addison Russell, who probably would have helped the Cubs win last night, and whose presence is all the more important with Javy Baez under the weather. A middle infield of David Bote and Ian Happ looks like … well … like it looked in the 9th inning last night.
Russell has had an up-and-down year, obviously, starting with his domestic violence suspension, his struggles at the plate, his turnaround at the plate, and then his terrible fundamentals and focus issues, which got him sent back down to Iowa in late July. He’s hit .247/.329/.404 in the big leagues this year (89 wRC+), which is about average for him. Expect him to see a lot of time at second base going forward, with Ian Happ playing more in the outfield.
If and when Ben Zobrist returns – he’s at Iowa now – he could take more of those starts at second.