Amidst a league-wide shutdown and an Opening Day that wasn’t, the Chicago Cubs today made a roster move: Dillon Maples has been optioned to AAA Iowa.
I know. You’re thinking … wtf?
Normally, you’d see a cut like this from “Spring Training” long before Opening Day, and with the league shut down, what’s the point of making the move right now anyway? Well, although I don’t have a perfect answer for you just yet, I can tell you that teams around baseball have been optioning guys today, so I suspect it’s a logistical move related to Opening Day. Moreover, it’s gonna be related to whatever deal the players and the league work out with respect to what this season is going to look like.
In other words, I think when we get word about the roster/service time/compensation/etc. deal for the the hypothetical 2020 season, we’re going to better understand why guys were optioned today.
Maples, 27, has some of the best stuff in the Cubs organization, with a plus fastball and a frisbee slider. But you know the story: he can’t keep the fastball in the strike zone (not even talking about locating it; just keep it in the strike zone), which means all kinds of problems, despite the plus-plus slider. Because of the talent, you don’t want to give up on a guy like Maples, especially when he has options left. So, whenever the season begins, you can expect that Maples will once again be an up-and-down guy from Iowa, quickly approaching a time in his career where he’s going to need to establish himself if he’s going to be able to stick on a big league roster for the long-term.
After the move, the Cubs’ “Spring Training roster” stands at 38.