Cubs Roster Moves: Romine to IL, Castillo Called Up, Mekkes and Payne Available on Taxi Squad

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Cubs Roster Moves: Romine to IL, Castillo Called Up, Mekkes and Payne Available on Taxi Squad

Chicago Cubs

Today was another weird one, with some uncertainty about what roster moves were coming, and rumors about who was being called up (various rumors had it that Tyler Payne or Dakota Mekkes or Erick Castillo were coming up).

The official word, with Austin Romine hitting the IL with an undesignated injury (and no corresponding 40-man move, which means it’s the COVID list, after the same thing happened with Patrick Wisdom yesterday):

Hopefully Romine, like Wisdom, will be all right, and there isn’t any further spread. Nobody wants the virus to spread through a clubhouse, much less at the very end of the season.

Tyler Payne and Dakota Mekkes are also with the Cubs, but in a just-in-case capacity. They are officially “taxi squad” guys, who are there to be ready in case there were more positive tests, I suspect.

Payne was discussed earlier here, and Castillo is a similar story: a 28-year-old catcher who has been grinding his way up the system for years (9 of them, in Castillo’s case), and although he was not going to make the 40-man roster in the offseason, it’s still nice to see guys like this getting rewarded for their efforts when an opportunity presents itself.

Speaking of opportunities presenting themselves, we’ll see if Mekkes gets a chance to actually pitch with the big league team.

Mekkes, 26, has obviously been on the radar for a few years now as a legit relief prospect. After dominating the lower levels, the 2016 10th rounder has stalled out a bit at Triple-A, primarily owing to an unsustainable walk rate (14.0% this year) and a strikeout rate that shrank against more advanced hitters (just 20.5% this year). The guy doesn’t give up hard contact, though, and has some really interesting pitches (and deception in the delivery, thanks to great extension and a funky arm angle). From a scouting perspective, you can see a big league reliever in there if the command improves (always the biggest “if” when you get to this level).

Interesting that the Cubs are willing to bring Mekkes up now if the situation calls for it, which *may* be a sign that they want to keep him on the 40-man roster all offseason (though I’m not sure he was a real risk to depart via the Rule 5 Draft, and he’s not yet eligible for minor league free agency). Not sure what happens to him after the season right now.

UPDATE: Others with the team, just in case:

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.