The Cubs made a roster move Saturday morning, designating catcher Tucker Barnhart for assignment and recalling Miles Mastrobuoni to Chicago. This signals another move to fill the vacated 40-man spot, possibly for pitching reinforcements now that Marcus Stroman may miss another month or more and the Cubs have a few relievers who should be ready to come off the 60-day IL soon.
Brad Boxberger and Nick Burdi could be options for the bullpen in the near future, then there are longshots Brandon Hughes and Ethan Roberts further down the road. There’s also the possibility that the organization could promote Jordan Wicks or Ben Brown, though they might wait for active rosters to expand in September. Luke Little could be a dark horse as well.
Barnhart wasn’t having the kind of season he had hoped for in his return to the NL Central, batting .202 with a 53 wRC+ over 123 plate appearances. He did actually generate positive WAR value as a result of his work behind the plate, but he had been relegated to backup duties behind Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya. This sucks on a personal level because I know his family, but I understand the move from a personnel standpoint.
The Cubs had already shown that they were willing to part ways with veteran leaders even if it meant eating salary to do so. Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini were early examples of that and, even though it’s more of a stretch, Drew Smyly‘s future may not be totally secure if he doesn’t right the ship coming out of the ‘pen.