The Cubs made a flurry of moves Monday afternoon, the most hyped of which was clearly adding Pete Crow-Armstrong to the roster. That required two separate moves, one to clear a spot on the active roster and another to make room on the 40-man. The latter was made by designating Anthony Kay for assignment, but the former was achieved by optioning Alexander Canario back to Triple-A Iowa after he got a single plate appearance in 11 games.
David Ross said that was a matter of prioritizing playing time for the guys that had gotten the Cubs to where they were, though his explanation makes zero sense from a competitive standpoint. My theory is that the organization wanted to throttle back Canario’s playing time ahead of the Arizona Fall League and giving him a big league paycheck for a week and a half was a nice reward for his amazing comeback from a brutal injury last winter.
The other very important factor here is that Canario was already on the 40-man.
Many fans are concerned that PCA will get the same treatment as his counterpart, but the Cubs were just letting him get a few more ABs at Triple-A before calling him up at the expense of another member of the roster. We should expect to see “some starts mixed in,” though Ross said he’s “not going to force anything” with the top prospect. That said, the Cubs really need a spark both in center field and atop the order.
Mike Tauchman is slashing .163/.295/.188 with a 46 wRC+ over 95 plate appearances in the last month and doesn’t need to be getting everyday run at this point. Put PCA out there and let him show what he can do.
In less fun news, Adbert Alzolay has been placed on the 15-day IL with a right forearm strain. Michael Fulmer was activated from the IL after dealing with a similar issue, so we can only hope Alzolay, who has dealt with some long-lasting injuries in the past, bounces back just as quickly.
Below is the press release with additional details.
The Chicago Cubs today selected outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong from Triple-A Iowa and activated right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer from the 15-day injured list. In a corresponding move for Fulmer, right-handed pitcher Adbert Alzolay was placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to Sept. 10) with a right forearm strain. In corresponding moves for Crow-Armstrong, outfielder Alexander Canario was optioned to Iowa and left-handed pitcher Anthony Kay was designated for assignment.
Crow-Armstrong, looking to make his major league debut, will wear uniform number 52 and is available for tonight’s 6:40 p.m. MT game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Crow-Armstrong, 21, has combined to hit .283 (124-for-438) with 26 doubles, seven triples, 20 home runs, 82 RBI, 37 stolen bases and an .876 OPS in 107 games between Double-A Tennessee and Iowa this season. The left-handed hitter has batted .288 (90-for-313) with 14 home runs and an .888 OPS against right-handed pitching and hit .272 (34-for-125) with six home runs and an .846 OPS off left-handed pitching. Crow-Armstrong was named to his second-straight MLB Futures Game this season.
The five-foot 11-inch Crow-Armstrong hit a combined .312 (132-for-423) with 20 doubles, 10 triples, 16 home runs, 61 RBI, 32 stolen bases and 36 walks, contributing to a .376 on-base percentage and an .896 OPS, in 101 games with Low-A Myrtle Beach and High-A South Bend in 2022. He was the lone player in minor league baseball with at least a .300 average, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 15 home runs, 60 RBI and 30 stolen bases. Following the season, Crow-Armstrong was awarded a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove and was named a Midwest League Post-Season All-Star and an MiLB.com Organizational All-Star.
Acquired from the Mets at the 2021 trade deadline for infielder Javier Báez and right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams, Crow-Armstrong is ranked as the Cubs top prospect and the 12th-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He was selected by the Mets in the first round (19th overall) out of Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles, Calif.
Fulmer, 30, was placed on the 15-day injured list August 26 (retroactive to August 25) with a right forearm strain. He is 3-5 with 11 holds, one save and a 4.47 ERA (28 ER/56.1 IP) in 57 games, including one as an opener, for Chicago this season. In his last 34 games since May 28, he has posted a 2.52 ERA (10 ER/35.2 IP).
Fulmer owns a career 37-50 record with a 3.94 ERA (295 ER/673.1 IP), two complete games, one shutout and 18 saves in 261 major league games (90 starts) across seven seasons with Detroit (2016-18, 2020-22), Minnesota (2022) and the Cubs. In 2016, he became the fifth player in Tigers history to be named the American League Rookie of the Year and earned 2017 A.L. All-Star honors. Fulmer began his major league career as a starting pitcher before transitioning to the bullpen in 2021.
Canario, 23, was recalled from Iowa September 1 and appeared in one game for Chicago, making his major league debut. He hit .276 (40-for-145) with 12 doubles, eight home runs, 35 RBI and an .866 OPS in 36 games for Triple-A Iowa after his promotion July 14.
Kay, 28, was claimed off waivers from Toronto December 23, 2022 and made 13 relief appearances with the Cubs, posting a 6.35 ERA (8 ER/11.1 IP) and a 1.76 WHIP.