Cubs Roster Moves: Mark Zagunis Optioned to AAA (Update: Zagunis/Norwood down, Maples/Collins Up)

The Cubs made a quiet roster move Friday night, though it’s one people had been expecting for a while. As apparently first reported by Anderson Pickard, a teenager from New Hampshire who claims to be an MLB insider (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and all-around sports fan, Mark Zagunis has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Even though the idea of Zagunis being optioned comes as no surprise, the source of the initial report was at least a little dubious. But the MLB transactions page already lists the move for Saturday, so we know it’s legit.

Zagunis slashed .257/.333/.343 in 39 plate appearances and his defense wasn’t exactly enough to make up for his offensive performance. His strength has always been as a solid on-base guy, someone who can really work a plate appearance. But doing that at the big league level requires consistent playing time, which Zagunis wasn’t going to get.

No corresponding move has been reported or announced, so your guess is as good as mine as to who’s coming up. Ian Happ would have been the choice a month or so ago, but he continues to struggle in Iowa as he works to adjust to new swing mechanics aimed at lowering his strikeouts.

Happ is slashing .228/.347/.401 in 162 at-bats and he’s hitting just .182 over his last 10 games. What’s worse, he’s struck out 18 times to just three walks in his last 33 at-bats. That’s…yeah, it’s not great.

Given how the Cubs have had to start streaming relievers to keep fresh arms in the ‘pen, this feels like a spot to roll with an extra pitcher for a while. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Update 5/25: We now have the corresponding move to Zagunis being sent down, as well as another set of moves. Zagunis was officially sent down along with James Norwood, who was only recently called up anyway. Taking their places are two relievers who have already seen some time at the big league level in RHP Dillon Maples and LHP Tim Collins.

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