A trio of minor moves for the Chicago Cubs, as they continue to manage the edges of the 60-man roster.
First, after his mid-doubleheader DFA, Steven Souza, Jr. has been released by the Cubs. Signed in the offseason to a one-year, $1 million deal, Souza was going to get a chance this year to bounce back after nearly two full years lost to injury. In a lot of ways, the timing of the pandemic and its impact on baseball was particularly cruel to a guy like Souza, who didn’t get a normal Spring Training, didn’t get minor leagues in which to rehab against live pitching, and then was asked to just show up and face big league pitching after such a massive layoff. It’s virtually impossible to do. And he didn’t.
Souza was not going to be kept on the 60-man roster at this point, thus the release. Assuming he wants to continue his career – he was trending as so dang good before the injuries, and he’s only 31 – Souza will have to sign a minor league deal this offseason, and then play at the minor league level for a while next year to get the swing and the discipline back. Again, for a guy like him, you really hope there are minor league seasons next year. (Well, and for everyone else, too.)
Also released from the 60-man, surprise July addition Juan Gamez. The 26-year-old former Twins prospect pitched reasonably well in Mexico last year, and made a ton of sense as a signing for the Cubs. He has a very impressive looking sinker, and when you’re talking about minor league signings like that, sometimes you just target one impressive thing and see if you can work with the rest. What made a little less sense was why, once things went sideways, he was chosen for a 60-man spot over some of the Cubs’ upper-level pitching prospects who probably could have better made use of the time at South Bend. I think it was an extreme depth move by the Cubs, hoping that perhaps Gamez could break out quickly as an option to back-fill if starts were needed, but now it looks like that was just a slot that could’ve instead helped a prospect’s development.
Lastly, reliever Matt Dermody, he of the one-inning Cubs debut and DFA, has accepted an outright assignment back to South Bend. So he stays in the organization on the 60-man, and would be an option for the Cubs’ bullpen if they have a need for another lefty. Dermody, 30, was signed out of independent ball, where he was pitching this year specifically for the opportunity to impress a big league org. He’s a super tall lefty who can throw 95 mph, so you can figure the Cubs may well want to keep him around into next year, again, if there’s a minor league season.
I *believe* these moves leave the Cubs’ 60-man player pool at 59.