Cubs make a flurry of roster moves, including parting ways with Clint Frazier
The Cubs opened the series in New York by shaking up the roster Friday afternoon.
The big move is Clint Frazier, who was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for reliever Chris Martin, who was reinstated from the restricted list.
The Cubs also placed Marcus Stroman on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation and activated catcher Yan Gomes, pitcher Wade Miley and infielder Jonathan Villar from the IL. Michael Rucker and Alfonso Rivas were optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
Frazier, 27, signed a 1-year, $1.5 million deal with the Cubs just before the lockout began in December. He missed nearly six weeks in April and May after undergoing an appendectomy.
When he has been healthy, Frazier’s playing time has been sporadic. He hit .216 with a .356 on-base percentage and .653 OPS in 19 games (45 plate appearances).
“We needed a roster spot for Chris Martin coming back off,” David Ross said in New York. “I think it’s a spot where we haven’t been able to give him real opportunities to watch him succeed right now. Some tough decisions. We think a lot of Clint and his ability. With the appendix and the limited at-bats and not being able to see a real spot for him right now, it just was one of those tough decisions.”
The Cubs’ outfield was already crowded before Christopher Morel’s arrival. The rookie can play all over the diamond but he has settled into center field for most of the time. Ian Happ is playing left field every day and Jason Heyward has been in right since he returned from the IL earlier this month.
Seiya Suzuki is also slated to return from the IL soon and the Cubs have Rafael Ortega as another option in the outfield.
“He was upset,” Ross said of Frazier. “Emotional would be a good word. I think he likes it here a lot. I think he believes in his baseball skills, which we do too. It’s just one of those really tough decisions we have to make sometimes, which stink. Nobody wants to make those. It’s part of this business — the hard part. Sometimes you gotta make those tough decisions.
“He’s worked his tail off and done nothing but be a great teammate here. All of the players like him, the coaches like him a lot. Again just a move we had to make.”
Martin hasn’t pitched since May 26. He was initially placed on the bereavement list and moved to the restricted list last week. The 36-year-old right-hander has a 3.94 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 2 holds in 18 appearances while striking out 21 batters in 16 innings.
Stroman last pitched on May 3 when he surrendered 9 runs in 4 innings against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. This is his second stint on the IL this season and overall, he is 2-5 with a 5.32 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 9 starts.
Miley just finished up his second trip to the IL. He missed the first month-plus of the season while recovering from an elbow injury and then missed three weeks with a shoulder issue. He got the ball for Friday’s game to make his 4th start in a Cubs uniform.
Villar returns after landing on the IL in late May with a mouth injury suffered while working out. Gomes has missed the last two-and-a-half weeks with an oblique injury.
With Gomes’ return, the Cubs opted to keep P.J. Higgins in the big leagues. The 29-year-old can also play first base and third base in addition to catcher, giving David Ross a plethora of options for the lineup.
Rivas got out to a hot start to the season, batting .290/.413/.474 (.887 OPS) in 16 games through May 11. But he has struggled since (.127 AVG, .392 OPS) and has not seen much playing time with Frank Schwindel’s resurgence.
Rucker is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 games while often working as a multi-inning option out of the Cubs bullpen.