With the Cubs season wrapping up just five weeks from Sunday, the front office will soon turn their attention to the off-season. Jed Hoyer confirmed on Saturday that Jorge Soler will be among as many as eight Cubs’ prospects to play in the upcoming Arizona Fall League (AFL).
Albert Almora is also expected to play in the AFL and there have been rumblings that Kris Bryant could also see time in the fall league to help make up for the month he missed between the draft and signing with the team. As for Javier Baez, the Cubs’ top prospect will not play in the Arizona Fall League this year.
The rosters for the upcoming AFL season are expected to be released this week.
The Cubs were not expected to call up any players that are not currently on the 40-man roster when rosters expand on September 1 according to reports earlier in the week. But a report from Carrie Muskat on Saturday night indicated “the team will likely add players who are not currently on the 40-man roster but are expected to be added this off-season.”
The Cubs have a full 40-man roster and will have to open spots for both Ryan Sweeney and Scott Baker, as the CCO reported on Saturday. Other players that could be added to the active roster and called up include J.C. Boscan, Dave Sappelt, Eduardo Sanchez and Brooks Raley.
Brooks Raley has put together a decent season in Iowa’s rotation but his value to the big league team could be as a lefty specialist out of the pen. While September is not a good way to gauge how effective a player can be, it would be a good time to take a look and see if there is something there to build on with Raley.
The Cubs should call-up RHP Alberto Cabrera for the final month of the season but they could delay his call-up and assign him to Tennessee to help the Smokies in the post-season.
Another player to keep an eye on is Justin Grimm. The big league coaching staff, especially Chris Bosio, might want to take a look at him during the final month of the season. The Cubs could use Grimm as a way to help limit Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood’s innings without officially shutting them down.
The Cubs have not mentioned the possibility of calling up Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters or Mike Olt. With the injuries and down seasons all three players have had, it might be better to send them home and let their off-seasons begin.
As for players not on the 40-man roster that could possibly be called up for a look in September, reports have not surfaced on who those players could be.
Jesse Rogers reported last week that Logan Watkins merits a look over the last few weeks of the season. Dale Sveum was upfront when Watkins was called up from Triple-A about his possible playing time. Darwin Barney is the Cubs’ everyday second baseman and Watkins’ best position is second base.
Sveum said that Watkins would play sparingly while he finishes the season on the big league roster.
Logan Watkins told Rogers that he doesn’t know what the Cubs have in mind for him. Watkins is taking his time with the big league team as a learning experience.
According to Bruce Levine, Mike Olt should have a shot in the spring of being the Cubs’ everyday third baseman next season.
The Cubs face a decision with Nate Schierholtz according to the Sun-Times. The Cubs could decide to move him this winter or keep him around and give him more playing time next year.
Bruce Levine does not think Dioner Navarro will be back with the Cubs next season. The Cubs view Welington Castillo as their everyday catcher and Levine feels Navarro will sign with another team in the off-season. The Cardinals showed a lot of interest in Navarro just before the deadline.
News and Notes
Luis Valbuena was scheduled to report to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa on Saturday. Valbuena is expected to take coach-pitched batting practice as he rehabs from the right oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list on August 4. It does not appear Valbuena will be activated from the DL when rosters expand on Sept. 1.
According to a report from the Tribune, Dale Sveum and James Russell agree that fatigue is not the reason that Russell has struggled for the last month. Sveum blamed bad pitch selection as the reason for his latest game winning homer on Friday night. Russell did not agree.
Ryan Sweeney started his rehab in Mesa on Saturday with the AZL Cubs (Rookie League) and is expected to be activated on Sept. 1 when the rosters expand. As reported on Saturday, the Cubs will have to open a roster spot for Sweeney before he can be added to the active roster.
Jed Hoyer said on Saturday there is still time for Scott Baker to pitch this season and the Cubs are hoping he can make it back to the big leagues.
Mike Olt went 4-for-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and two runs scored on Saturday night in Iowa’s 8-5 win over Memphis.
Iowa activated RHP Chang-Yong Lim from the DL prior to Saturday night’s game. Lim pitched a scoreless inning with a walk and two strikeouts. Lim had been on the DL since August 13 with a right shoulder strain.
RHP Neil Ramirez was officially added to the Smokies’ roster on Saturday.
Andrew Cashner is looking to prove a point to the Cubs on Sunday and “shove it up their (blank)” according to the Sun-Times.