Cubs Roster Update: Schwarber to AAA, Heyward to DL, Zagunis and Floro Called Up
Woo, doggies, that was one hell of a late morning!
The Cubs just went nuts on the transaction machine, shifting guys around like nobody’s business and basically inciting a social media firestorm. Jason Heyward going to the DL was something of a given, seeing as how they’ve got outfielders to spare and his hand looks like a butterflied pork chop these days. But the biggest news came when it was announced that Kyle Schwarber would be heading to AAA Iowa.
I’ll have more thoughts on that in tomorrow’s Rundown, but suffice to say that development is rarely a linear process and this move is proof of nothing outside of that. This isn’t a sign of failure, though it feels that way given the hype surrounding Schwarber from the time he was drafted. Setting a Cubs postseason home run record as a rookie and then raking in the World Series immediately after being activated from a six-month DL stint added to that.
The bottom line is that at least he didn’t get demoted all the way to A-ball like Randal Grichuk, a move that I still find very curious. But back to the Cubs.
In order to fill the two vacant roster spots, the Cubs recalled righty pitcher Dylan Floro for what seems like the 57th time this season and also added outfielder Mark Zagunis. If it seems odd that they’d add a pitcher to replace an outfielder, consider the position player depth the Cubs already have, not to mention the imminent activation of Ben Zobrist. With an 11-game roadie kicking off tonight, that extra arm will be useful for a couple days.
Since Floro is a known commodity at this point, let’s talk a little about Zagunis here for a bit. We actually had a really nice primer on him back in February, so you should check that out too.
Known for his on-base skills, the right-handed-hitting Zagunis leads the PCL in walk rate (17.9%) and has a career OBP (.401) that is 126 points higher than his batting average (.275). While he’s only hitting .249 this season for Iowa, Zagunis still has a .399 OBP. That’s no mean feat, folks. He’s also displaying a little more pop (already a career-high 11 homers), but it’s that plate approach that should translate nicely to the big leagues.
Zagunis has been primarily a left fielder this season, but has seen nearly equal time in right over the course of his professional career. With both main corner men now out for at least the next week or so and Ben Zobrist not back yet, I’m thinking the new guy gets thrown right into the lineup, maybe as soon as tonight. In fact, and this might be a stretch, he could even be a potential fit in the leadoff spot.
There are a lot of moving parts to that, but the absence of several middle-of-the-order hitters might spur Joe Maddon to move Anthony Rizzo back down in order to try to drive in more runs.
Because he was not on the 40-man roster, adding Zagunis will require the Cubs to DFA someone else. The Twitter hive mind has decided that it’ll be Felix Pena, but the Cubs have a number of expendable pitchers currently rostered. There’s been no official word on that yet, so we’ll get that to you once we know more.
The Cubs designated Zac Rosscup for assignment in order to make room for Zagunis on the 40-man roster. Rosscup has made 62 total appearances with the Cubs, but was only with the team beiefly this season as a part of a rotating cast of characters.
That they would call Zagunis up at Rosscup’s expense says quite a bit about how they value the southpaw. And what they think of Zagunis, of course.