The Many Potential Impacts of the Alexander Canario Injury

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The Many Potential Impacts of the Alexander Canario Injury

Chicago Cubs

I was excited that we were finally going to have baseball back tonight after such a long layoff. The World Series. I’m very ready to see if the Phillies can actually give the Astros a challenge. All that good stuff.

But I have to admit, the Alexander Canario injury last night has brought me waaaay down. If you missed it, Canario was trying to avoid the first baseman in a game in the Dominican Winter League last night, mis-stepped at first base, badly breaking his ankle and then dislocating his shoulder upon hitting the ground. It made me feel sick last night, and that hasn’t really worn off.

Maybe he’ll be fine in the end after a long rehab process, but those kinds of catastrophic, freak-and-unfair injuries just really get to me. I feel for him, at this turning point in his career, and I feel for the fans who were likely going to get to see him taste the big leagues next year. Now, that all becomes a huge unknown. Sure, a downturn in performance can always happen with prospects – heck, established players, too – but there’s something about a freak injury that just seems so wrong. Like that shouldn’t be THE reason a guy doesn’t get his shot.

Also: the Cubs have really had a lot of major and freak-type injuries lately for positional prospects. This with Canario. Ed Howard’s hip injury. Brennen Davis’s back injury. Miguel Amaya’s foot injury. Usually, you expect that pitcher Tommy John surgeries or shoulder injuries are most likely to be your long-term, career-impacting injuries. It all makes me feel so down. This sucks a lot.

But it’s the reality now. I’m trying to settle myself into it. Oof. Can you tell I was a big Canario fan?

Even as we root for the best possible outcome for Canario – a return to full health and performance sometime well into next season? is that a realistic hope? – it’s worth considering the many impacts of the injury. They aren’t ENORMOUS impacts, because we’re still talking about a prospect who was not a lock to contribute to the big league team in 2023, but they are existent. This injury matters in a variety of ways.

Starting at the most obvious level, it’s the one I just mentioned: however much you could’ve planned on Canario getting some run at the big league level in 2023 – as a fill-in call-up, as a breakout guy if he was destroying Triple-A, etc. – you cannot plan on any of it now. I tend to think “planning” on big league contributions from Canario in 2023 would’ve been a really bad strategy in any case, but planning on having him available as depth? I think that would’ve been reasonable. But now you cannot and should not even plan for that.

Speaking of which, you cannot think about the possibility of a surprise breakout contribution in center field. All that stuff we’ve been talking about, wanting to have someone in center field who could contribute, but wouldn’t block a guy like Canario if he’s forcing the issue? Well that’s a little effected now. It wasn’t just Canario – it was Brennen Davis and maybe Pete Crow-Armstrong, too – but when it was all three of those guys, you might be all the more timid about adding a real lock-down starter in center field. Now, maybe you’re more open to it?

Which takes me to a related point: maybe this injury nudges the Cubs, however slightly, toward spending a little more in the outfield this offseason? I don’t think this Canario injury makes the difference between going hard after Brandon Nimmo and not, mind you, but if Canario was factoring into the periphery of the Cubs’ thinking for 2023, I think he has to become a literal zero factor *in the planning* at this point. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. So the Cubs may be slightly more inclined to shift some dollars into the outfield – which you could regard as a good thing or a bad thing, but I tend to think having fewer players available is never a good thing.

Speaking of not having a guy available, that’s just a bummer in its own right. Canario is already on the 40-man roster, so he was going to be available – as needed – to the Cubs. Now, he’ll be taking up a 40-man spot *without* the potential to contribute (for however long he’s out). The Cubs could put him on the 60-day IL at the end of Spring Training, but the only way to do that is to first call him up, which means he gets big league pay and big league service time while he’s on the 60-day IL. Maybe that’s a trade the Cubs decide is worth it to open up a 40-man spot, but again, it’s not like it helps them. It’s a negative impact.

Another negative impact? Canario cannot be used this offseason as a trade piece. Maybe he would’ve been, maybe he wouldn’t have been, but it was an option, given all the outfield depth the Cubs have. Now it is not even an option.

The last impact I can think of, at least within the first 12 hours of the injury happening, is to the rest of the outfield. With the outfield depth taking a hit, maybe the Cubs now also cannot entertain trade offers for Ian Happ, for example, if they had previously been open to it. Heck, maybe this creates enough uncertainty that it ticks up the Cubs’ interest in an extension with Happ, however slightly. That probably depends more on the long-term prognosis for Canario, which may not be knowable until after surgery and after a good portion of the recovery and rehab.

I suppose the impact the rest of the outfield does include more playing time at Triple-A, at least in the first half, for another prospect. This is NOT the way you’d want to come by it, but maybe someone else will get some runway and show out in a way they couldn’t have if Canario was healthy. I can’t be me if I didn’t at least try to end on some kind of positive note.

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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.