The Chicago Cubs Made a Flurry of Roster Moves: Rivas, Deichmann, Abbott, St. John, Leiter

As expected, the Chicago Cubs today formalized the Mark Leiter Jr. call-up, adding him to the 40-man roster in advance of tonight’s start against the Rockies. If he could give you three quality innings, you’d probably take it, but he has had at least some passing success in the past, and looked solid in Spring Training, for what little that’s worth.

To open up a spot on the 28-man roster for Leiter, Alfonso Rivas has been optioned to Iowa, which I kinda hate, but I suppose I understand that he was seeing some of the least time among the bench pieces (and the Cubs clearly wanted to go with an extra arm). Rivas will not be eligible to return to the big league team for 15 days, at which point the 28-man roster will have shrunk back down to 26. In other words, I don’t expect to see him back with the big league team until and unless there is an injury.

To open up a spot on the 40-man roster for Leiter, the Cubs … well, they actually did two things: designated pitcher Cory Abbott for assignment and also designated outfielder Greg Deichmann for assignment. Only one of those moves was strictly necessary, but the Cubs did the other one so they could add lefty reliever Locke St. John to the 40-man roster (and then immediately option him to Triple-A Iowa, where he was already pitching). Why? Best guess is that the Cubs know St. John is coming up shortly to be another lefty in the bullpen. Maybe he swaps out for Leiter before tomorrow’s game?

Abbott, 26, was the Cubs’ second round pick in 2017, and although he had periodic success in the minors (sometimes tremendous success), he hasn’t found that same level at Triple-A or in the big leagues. When he was frequently not included among the guys getting serious looks in the rotation and/or bullpen for this season, a DFA at some point seemed very possible. The Cubs now have seven days in which to waive, trade, or release Abbott. I suspect they’ll waive him, and there’s a chance he’ll clear at this point, and the Cubs could outright him to Iowa (retaining him for at least the rest of this season).

Deichmann – also a 26-year-old 2017 second rounder – was the other piece in the Andrew Chafin trade last year (together with righty Daniel Palencia, who is getting more of the hype these days). Billed as a power-discipline combo outfielder, Deichmann had little pro experience because of injuries and the pandemic, and he simply didn’t hit at Triple-A after coming over in trade, and to open this season. It’s a little hard for me to imagine a team putting him on their 40-man roster right now, but it’s possible some rebuilding club will try to stash him after he hits waivers. If not, he’ll clear, and he, too, could be outrighted to Iowa and retained for this season.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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