We’ll have to do more discussing of one of these particular moves – it was a sad, long time coming – but for now, let’s get the transactions in front of you.
• Nico Hoerner activated from IL, will start today at SS.
• Keegan Thompson activated from IL, and will start today.
• Dillon Maples DFA'd.
• Nick Martini optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 19, 2021
A lot to digest there! Suddenly Keegan Thompson is back and starting. Nick Martini is out. Nico Hoerner is back (we knew that was coming). And Dillon Maples has been designated for assignment after years of trying and trying to make it work. Maples is the one we’ll have to talk about more soon.
As for Hoerner’s return, it’s great news. As we’ve discussed at length, I don’t think anything that happens the next two weeks can leave you feeling like Nico Hoerner *MUST* enter 2022 the everyday starting shortstop on the Cubs. The team will need to proceed this offseason instead as though Hoerner will definitely be a contributor to the 2022 team in some way, but that is not a spot that is locked down.
Nevertheless, it’s critical for him to get these games in before the end of the year. Thanks to the injuries and the pandemic, Hoerner has had precious little big league experience despite spending chunks of the last three seasons in the majors. There are still significant adjustments to be made in his game at the plate, and that happens only as he gets more experience facing good big league pitching. A couple more weeks of that this year is better than nothing.
Again, a more comprehensive take on Maples coming later, but the short version for today is that the Cubs now have a week to trade, release, or waive Maples. He’s likely to hit waivers, and could be claimed by a team that wants to work him out now and decide on whether to keep him on the 40-man this offseason. He’s out of minor league options at this point, so he either makes a team on Opening Day or hits waivers again anyway (which is presumably why the Cubs were willing to do this now – they weren’t going to keep him on the 40-man all offseason).