Roster management is the second-hardest part of managing a National League club, behind pitcher and pinch-hitter management. Jason Heyward is eligible for reactivation immediately. Joe Maddon finds himself with a plethora of live bats and glove talent. Unfortunately, Heyward’s return leads to a roster quandary, and Maddon must make a roster move. There are two immediate and obvious choices, barring another transfer to the disabled list. The Chicago Cubs will option either Jeimer Candelario or Ian Happ back to Iowa. Both have performed admirably during their call-ups, primarily on opposite sides of the game.
Candelario’s glove is solid on the infield corners. During his short call-up, he played Kris Bryant‘s third base spot for five games, and played one game at Anthony Rizzo‘s first base spot. In 22 plate appearances with the big league club, he owns a paltry line of .143/.182/.190/.372. He has struck out six times and has ground into a double play, while only producing three hits and one walk in 22 appearances. He has driven in just two runs.
In the field, he has shown considerable glove skills this year. He has seen 21 fielding chances in 45 innings of play. He has accounted for 10 put outs and 11 assists, and assisted in three double plays. His WAR is -0.2 with the Cubs. He posted a much better line .340/.443/.679/1.093 with Triple-A Iowa Cubs. His strike out to walk ratio against Triple-A pitching is a much more palatable 26:16.
Happ’s bat is his best asset, and it is awake at the moment. In 13 plate appearance, he has amassed four hits – one double and two home runs, with four RBI. He owns a line of .400/.538/1.100/1.638. His walk to strike-out ratio is 3:3, and he has grounded into one double play. His WAR is a 0.3 with the club through three games. While a middle-infielder by trade, Happ’s time in the majors has covered all three outfield positions. In 25 innings in the field, he has seen four total chances for four put-outs. In Iowa, Happ’s line was .298/.362/.615/.977, which is a solid indicator why Candelario received a recall first. Happ has adjusted to major league pitching in a hurry. He took both Carlos Martinez of the St. Louis Cardinals and Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds deep for his first two career home runs.
Happ also gives Maddon another body to play the outfield, which is useful on an active roster that only sports four outfielders once Heyward returns. Happ’s infield and outfield ability makes him more versatile than Candelario, and Maddon loves versatility in his players.
What will Maddon do?
Maddon’s best move is to option Candelario back to Iowa. The Cubs have two solid corner infielders, and Ben Zobrist can play the positions as well. Candelario’s timing needs work to be a proper big league asset for the Cubs. Happ has a live bat, and can play all three outfield positions. He can also cover middle infield if necessary. Happ will prove a great major league asset both in the short term and the long term. If anything, Heyward’s return creates a roster quandary because of too much talent.