In an interesting and somewhat unexpected move, the Cubs outrighted strong-armed righty Casey Weathers to their Iowa affiliate today to bring the roster back down to 39. It had reached 40 after the official signing of Gerardo Concepcion.
It's interesting more in the sense that the Cubs don't seem to have the need to make a move now than anything to do with Weathers. He had virtually no chance of making the team out of spring training and frankly looked like he was pretty low on the depth chart as far as bullpen arms. He has struggled to command his mid to high 90s fastball and slider his whole career, but especially since having TJ surgery. The people I've talked to considered him just a throw-in to balance out the trade roster-wise more than acquiring a guy who's going to help their bullpen in the near future. It turns out the Cubs need that roster spot back.
The question now is...for whom?
Joe Mather and Blake DeWitt are two non-roster players who are making a serious run at a job this spring. Mather continues to display a nice blend of power and speed -- and perhaps most importantly -- versatility. After playing CF yesterday, Mather is starting at 3B today. It's becoming clear to me that the Cubs are trying to see if he can be a good fit on the 40 man roster.
DeWitt was bumped off the roster this offseason but I think his situation is less complicated. If you decide you want to keep DeWitt, you simply swap roster spots with Adrian Cardenas, who hasn't done much this spring so far and is starting to lose some playing time. Cardenas could still clear waivers, but even if he doesn't, there wouldn't seem to be much use for him if DeWitt makes the team, which seems very likely right now.
Reader North Side Irish reminds me that Trever Miller has pitched really well as a non-roster invite. With the Cubs trading Sean Marshall and the Cubs young lefties not distinguishing themselves so far (with the exception of Jeff Beliveau's last outing), Miller has a legit shot as the second lefty out of the bullpen.
I think it also bodes well for Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo. Up to now, I'd assumed the easiest way to clear a roster spot was to give Castillo back to the Phillies this spring, but he has pitched well and the Cubs may feel good enough about his long term future to add him to their bullpen and keep him on the 25 man roster for the whole year.
And then....if you really want some wild speculation, maybe you think the Cubs are clearing a roster spot for Jorge Soler. He doesn't warrant an MLB deal as far as his development is concerned (neither did Matt Szczur or Gerardo Concepcion for that matter), but given the market for him, it could give the Cubs an edge when it comes to signing him. There aren't many teams willing to give a 40 man roster spot to an unproven 20 year old Cuban outfielder, but the Cubs would be one of the few teams to have both the financial means to sign him to a large deal and the flexibility place him on their roster.
Outrighting Weathers may be just a minor move, but it does have some interesting implications...