Cubs Decline Descalso's Option, Reflecting on That Signing, Roster Shape, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Decline Descalso’s Option, Reflecting on That Signing, Roster Shape, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Fall Back when you’re a kid: I don’t think about this at all. Fall Back when you’re a young worker: woo hoo, an extra hour of sleep! Fall Back when you’re a parent of young children: how can one hour create such a nightmare?

•   As expected – so expected that I planned only to talk about the context, rather than the “news” – the Cubs declined Daniel Descalso’s option for 2021, and he’s now a free agent. I think at the outset, I want to note that the signing was low-cost for a reason, but I really liked it. I think Descalso really had changed his plate approach and swing plane in such a way that he could’ve continued to succeed. We’ll never know, of course, because he hurt his ankle almost immediately in 2019, played through it to terrible effect, and then stayed “injured” all of 2020. So, against that set of results, you can’t call the signing anything but a failure. Good guy, I’m sure, but the Cubs got nothing positive out of it.

•   Where the signing goes from failure to disaster is when you consider the bigger picture. At the time, Cubs baseball ops had almost no money to deploy, so using those precious little resources on a guy who contributed nothing made it even worse. Moreover, in case you forgot, Descalso was effectively being swapped in for Tommy La Stella, who was dealt to the Angels for pitching prospect Conor Lillis-White … who got hurt and never threw a pitch in the Cubs organization. And then, of course, La Stella – not Descalso – went on to become the offensive guy the Cubs desperately needed. It was a series of interconnected moves, all of which bombed from the Cubs’ perspective. Mistakes were made.

•   One small positive to get out of the situation, though, is what the Cubs did this year: with Descalso still unable to contribute, the Cubs placed him on the 45-day IL rather than release him. That way, he continued to accumulate days of service in the big leagues, and thus reached 10 years of service during the 2020 season. For him and his family, that means a whole lot of pension and health benefits are now available, no matter what happens from here. Good and classy move by the Cubs, and something that I expect doesn’t go unnoticed when we talk about the Cubs being an organization that treats its players and families very well. (In a world where teams may spend very little money this offseason, it sure might help be a tiebreaker among similar low offers if you’re the org known for being good to players and families.)

•   The Cubs officially have 10 free agents now, adding Descalso and Jon Lester to the original eight. After those moves, plus the Rizzo option pick-up, plus the Max Schrock claim and Rex Brothers outright, the 40-man roster stands at 31. Throw in a few more non-tenders that are certain to occur, and the Cubs have a crapload of 40-man flexibility at the moment. Given the state of things, it’s probably a good offseason to have a whole lot of room on your 40-man for low-cost flyer additions – there could be sooooo many compelling ones available.

•   One caveat there to the 31 number: that doesn’t include three guys still on the 45-day IL, who’ll have to be reinstated shortly: James Norwood, Manny Rodriguez, and Brad Wieck. Even if all three are retained, like I said, you’re going to see some non-tenders coming (Albert Almora, Jose Martinez, Kyle Ryan(?), etc.), so there’s still going to be a ton of flexibility. Plus, the Cubs actually don’t have a whole lot of prospects they absolutely have to add to the 40-man this year to protect from the Rule 5 (Brailyn Marquez was the most obvious, and he’s already on there). Suffice to say, I expect the Cubs to be as active as ever in adding flyers.

•   Speaking of fringe roster stuff, Bryan with a good point here:

•   For every other prospect who is Rule 5 eligible, the roster decisions are due by November 20. The armchair quarterbacking the roster decisions across baseball this year is going to be rough. We’re just going to have to admit, when something surprising happens, that maybe we don’t know diddly about the Alternate Site performances.

•   Jon Lester is awesome:


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.