The Chicago Cubs have acquired 24-year old lefty reliever Giovanni Soto from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Soto pitched in 6 games (0 starts) for the Indians in his first taste of the majors in 2015 and he was 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. He also pitched in 46 games (1 start) in AAA-ball for the Indians last year and he was 2-1 with 2 saves, a 2.68 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. The Cubs will start him out in AAA-ball. This was a good flier for the Cubs to take.
26-year old lefty swinging 1B Anthony Rizzo took his game to a higher level in 2015 for the Chicago Cubs. He played in 160 games for the Cubs last year and he was 163 of 586 (.278 avg, .899 OPS) with 94 runs scored, 31 homers, 101 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. He was a National League All-Star last year and he finished 4th in the voting for the N.L. MVP Award. He has picked up where he left off last year so far in 2016. He has played in 4 games for the Cubs so far this year and he is 5 for 15 (.333 avg, 1.340 OPS) with 5 runs scored, 1 triple, 2 homers and 9 RBIs. If the Cubs wind up as good as most people think they are going to be, Rizzo might win that MVP Award in 2016.
The Chicago Cubs have called up 34-year old lefty swinging infielder Munenori Kawasaki to replace Kyle Schwarber on the active roster. He played in 23 games for the Blue Jays last year and he was 6 for 28 (.214 avg, .598 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 0 homers and 2 RBIs. He has now played in 262 games in his first four years in the majors and he is 143 of 612 (.234 avg, .599 OPS) with 77 runs scored, 1 homer, 50 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Kawasaki has versatility in the field, but he won’t help much with the bat.
23-year old lefty swinging OF/C Kyle Schwarber will miss the remainder for the 2016 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee. He was injured in a collision with CF Dexter Fowler last night in Arizona. He played in 2 games for the Cubs this year and he was 0 for 4 (.000 avg, .200 OPS). Last year he burst onto the scene and played in 69 games for the Cubs in which he was 57 of 232 (.246 avg, .842 OPS) with 52 runs scored, 16 homers, 43 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Schwarber also played in 9 games in the post-season for the Cubs in which he was 9 for 27 (.333 avg, 1.308 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 5 homers and 8 RBIs. 24-year old righty swinging Jorge Soler will probably see the biggest bump in P.T. due to Schwarber’s injury. He was set to platoon with him in LF this year. Soler has played in 3 games for the Cubs so far this year and he is 1 for 9 (.111 avg, .311 OPS) with 1 run scored and 1 RBI. He played in 101 games during the regular season for the Cubs last year and he was 96 of 366 (.262 avg, .723 OPS) with 39 runs scored, 10 homers, 47 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Soler stepped up when the games counted in the playoffs for the Cubs last year. He played in 7 games in the playoffs for the Cubs last year and he was 9 for 19 (.474 avg, 1.705 OPS) with 6 runs scored, 3 homers and 5 RBIs. This is a bad break for the Cubs, but Soler was just as highly thought of as Schwarber when they were coming up through the minor league system.
26-year old righty swinging outfielder Matt Szczur was a long shot to make the Chicago Cubs‘ opening day roster. But he did not only make the roster, but he is red hot with the bat right now. In his first two years with the Cubs, Szczur played in 80 games for the Chicago Cubs when he was 30 for 134 (.224 avg, .619 OPS) with 11 runs scored, 3 homers, 13 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. He is off to a great start this year. He has played in 2 games for the Cubs so far this year and he is 3 for 5 (.600 avg, 2.000 OPS) with 2 runs scored, 1 double, 1 homer and 4 RBIs. Szczur will have to stay hot with the bat in order to find P.T. for the Cubs.
30-year old switch-hitting CF Dexter Fowler played in 156 games for the Chicago Cubs last year and he was 149 of 596 (.250 avg, .757 OPS) with 102 runs scored, 17 homers, 46 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He thought he was going to cash in with a big free agent deal over the winter, but it just didn’t happen, so he returned to the Cubs. He is off to an outstanding start for the Cubs so far in 2016. He has played in 2 games for the Cubs so far this year and he is 5 for 8 (.625 avg, 1.792 OPS) with 4 runs scored, 1 double, 1 homer and 2 RBIs. The Cubs are lucky to have Fowler back in the fold, because that helped them move Jason Heyward back to his natural position in RF.
24-year old righty reliever Brad Markey comes into this season as the Chicago Cubs‘ #23 prospect according to Baseball America. Markey pitched in 21 games (9 starts) in A-ball for the Cubs last year and he was 7-0 with 2 saves, a 1.61 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. He has now pitched in 36 games (9 starts) in his first 2 years in the minors and he is 8-1 with 4 saves, a 1.99 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Markey has only given up 87 hits and 15 walks while whiffing 92 batters in his first 113 innings in the minors, which are pretty darn impressive numbers.
The Chicago Cubs have placed 26-year old righty starting pitcher Dallas Beeler and 25-year old righty starting pitcher Aaron Brooks on the 15-day disabled list for undisclosed injuries. Beeler pitched in 3 games (all starts) for the Cubs last year and he was 0-1 with a 9.72 ERA and a 2.52 WHIP. He also pitched in 21 games (all starts) in AAA-ball last year in which he was 8-5 with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Beeler has now pitched in 5 games (all starts) in his first two years with the Cubs and he is 0-3 with a 6.05 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. Brooks pitched in 13 games (9 starts) for the Royals and A’s last year in which he was 3-4 with a 6.67 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. Brooks has now pitched in 15 games (10 starts) in his first two years in the majors and he is 3-5 with a 8.38 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP. If the Cubs need either of these guys to start games for them in 2016, something has gone terribly wrong.
The Chicago Cubs have placed 24-year old righty swinging 3B Christian Villanueva on the 15-day disabled list due to a fractured right fibula. This will likely cost him if not all of the 2016 season, most of it. He played in 129 games in AA+AAA-ball for the Cubs last year and he was 123 of 479 (.257 avg, .752 OPS) with 61 runs scored, 20 homers, 95 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. Villanueva has now played in 698 games in his first seven years in the minors and he is 678 of 2,564 (.264 avg, .762 OPS) with 343 runs scored, 82 homers, 415 RBIs and 62 stolen bases. The Cubs just hope that Villanueva heals up completely from this injury.
The Chicago Cubs were very happy with 28-year old righty reliever Trevor Cahill last year. He pitched in 11 games (0 starts) during the regular season for the Cubs last year and he was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. He only gave up 8 hits and 5 walks while whiffing 22 batters in 17 innings last year, which were some impressive numbers. Cahill also pitched in 6 games (0 starts) in the post-season for the Cubs last year and he was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Cahill was an American League All-Star in 2010 for the Oakland A’s as a starting pitcher. Cahill has pitched in 39 games out of the bullpen in his first seven years in the majors and he is 3-2 with 1 save, a 3.53 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. I think Cahill is going to have another good year for the Cubs out of the pen in 2016.