When people see that Player X was released, it tends to throw up red flags. I mean, it sounds kinda bad, right? But in cases like these, it’s more a matter of the Cubs not wanting to add Manny Parra, Munenori Kawasaki, or Shane Victorino to the active roster and also not wanting to pay the $100,000 retention bonus each player would be due as an Article XX(B) free agent.
I had written previously about the team’s desire to retain Victorino, but the Cubs would like to keep Parra and Kawasaki around as well. Victorino has said that he’s cool with spending a little more time in Mesa to rehab an injured calf, though the jury is still out as to whether he’s willing to give AAA a go. Kawasaki has had a great spring and has really been pushing to make the roster, particularly with Javier Baez’s status in doubt.
I’d be lying if I said I really understood all the intricacies of roster manipulations and I don’t have any inside info on the Cubs’ machinations, but I have to think a new deal with Kawasaki would come with some assurances that he’s got a roster spot when camp breaks. Tommy La Stella had been dealing with a sore calf through much of camp, but was in the lineup Monday playing second and going 3-for-4. He’s playing third and batting fifth(!) on Tuesday.
Every indication is that TLS has a spot locked up, which means the only way Kawasaki makes the team is as a fill-in during a Baez DL stint. That kinda leads me to believe we’ll see Javy on the shelf here soon. Or maybe I’m dead wrong, Baez is fine, and the Cubs are hoping Kawasaki will be cool with a minor league assignment for a while.
Given my knack for prognostication, it’s probably neither of those things.
The Cubs have indeed chosen to place Baez on the 15-day DL to open the season and Joe Maddon announced that Neil Ramirez, Tommy La Stella, and Matt Szczur have made the roster. They have also re-signed the titular trio to new MiLB deals, according to Patrick Mooney and others reporting from camp.
I’d love to spike the ball on this one, but that’d be pretty dumb since I’d speculated that Kawasaki, not La Stella would make the cut. I will revel a bit in Ramirez’s addition, as there’d been some question as to whether the Cubs would opt for seven relief arms in the event that Baez was injured. My thought was that his removal from the active roster cleared up an extra space for a position player and that there’d be no need to sacrifice an arm to maintain flexibility on the field.
Either way, the roster is said for Monday’s opener.