Curious Roster Move for the Cubs: Sampson Called Up, Placed on Injured List
Chicago Cubs depth starter Adrian Sampson was already on the injured list at Triple-A Iowa thanks to a knee issue from early in the season. Sampson is also already on the 40-man roster. Just a couple background bits that set up the curiousness of today’s roster move.
The Cubs called Sampson up from Iowa after today’s game, but then placed him immediately on the Injured List (right meniscus, per Meghan Montemurro).
So Sampson is still on the 40-man, but is not on the 26-man, because he is on the big league Injured List.
So, the obvious question is … why?
It’s a fun little mystery that I suspect will be clear by this time tomorrow. Among the possibilities:
- The Cubs are planning to transfer Sampson to the 60-day IL in the big leagues, so that he no longer counts against the 40-man roster. That has to be preceded by calling the guy up from the minor leagues, so that part tracks (even if it usually happens on the same day). This seems the most plausible explanation, subject to the following caveat.
- The catch is that you can’t use the 60-day IL until your 40-man roster is full, and the Cubs’ 40-man roster is at 39. It’ll BE full tomorrow when Matt Mervis is added, so I guess that’s why the Cubs would have to wait to move Sampson to the 60-day tomorrow? But then does that mean SOMEONE ELSE is also being added to the 40-man roster tomorrow? Another reliever like Nick Burdi? That’s what Bryan speculated, and it would certainly be fun to see a guy who can touch triple digits in the bullpen. The Cubs might want an extra reliever in any case after Javy Assad filled five innings today and might get sent right back down to Iowa.
- A less-likely possibility – mostly because I’m not sure you’re allowed to do it – is that Sampson was called up and immediately placed on the IL so that someone who was recently optioned could be called back up before the usual 10/15-day limits (i.e., someone like Jeremiah Estrada). You can do that only when you’re replacing an injured player. But Sampson was called up without a corresponding move, so it doesn’t feel like this is a way a team could actually create a loophole.
- Lastly, a plausible possibility as suggested to me by Michael: maybe the Cubs are just doing Sampson a solid by giving him access to better insurance or medical or some other kind of benefit? I don’t know the particulars on that, if there are any, but I hold it out as a possibility. If, by tomorrow, there are no corresponding transactions that clarify the situation, we might just assume it’s that one.
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