The official roster moves are in, and Ben Zobrist is back on the Cubs, as he was just officially reinstated from the restricted list.
To make room for Zobrist on the 40-man roster, Mark Zagunis was designated for assignment. To make room for Zobrist on the 25-man roster, David Bote was optioned to Iowa.
Why that second part, when rosters expand to the full 40-man in, oh, and hour and a half? Well, there was always a little opacity with respect to the specifics of Zobrist’s return from the restricted list and playoff eligibility. Normally, anyone in the organization by August 31 is playoff-eligible, even if not on the active roster (there are maneuverings that can make it happen, and it really isn’t something to worry about in 99.9% of circumstances), but obviously there were particular circumstances for Zobrist’s restricted list situation. If he was going to be playoff-eligible, he had to be back on the 25-man roster as of today (basically, you gotta be on AN active roster in the org, but since Zobrist doesn’t have options left, it HAD to be MLB). Kind of a nice sign about the Cubs’ confidence in Zobrist, right, that they were so eager to make sure he was playoff-eligible?
Bote will now have to be down for 10 days, which is the primary casualty of the weird situation here – clearly, the Cubs feel like Zobrist is ready to contribute immediately and meaningfully in all phases (maybe that’s what that last minute infield practice was about?), but it kinda sucks not to have Bote available for a while when rosters have expanded.
Daniel Descalso figures to be activated tomorrow, too, though, so at least there’s another utility infielder in the mix (insert your comments here about his efficacy – hey, here’s hoping the ankle situation is totally remedied).
As for the 40-man spot, that part was always going to be necessary no matter what, and the Cubs opted to cut lose a position player rather than one of the many depth relievers. I’m fine with it. Not because I don’t like Zagunis, but instead because it was clear he wasn’t going to stick any time soon on the Cubs’ bench, and it was either deroster him now, or do it early in the offseason – it was just going to be impossible for him to stick around on the 40-man all offseason. He’ll probably clear waivers from here, maybe in time to keep playing for Iowa, and then he’ll be a minor league free agent after the season.