The #Chicago Cubs find themselves staring down the barrel of another roster crunch in the coming days. The team has managed to avoid making the hard decisions up to this point, but the time is likely coming to decide between outfielder #Matt Szczur and infielder Tommy LaStella. Making the decision harder is that neither player has gotten enough at-bats to really determine who would be the better long term fit for the Cubs in 2017.
While there was quite a bit of talk in the early going of the season that the Cubs might make a deal with the Atlanta Braves, no movement appears to be on the horizon. Another avenue has just opened up for Chicago, though it would mean making a deal with a division rival, a bit of a baseball no-no, especially this early in the season.
The #Pittsburgh Pirates recently found out they will be without outfielder Starling Marte for the next 80 days.
Roster questions for the Pirates
Marte is the latest victim of the new PED testing process and penalty phase that will see him miss half the season since this was his first offense. As ESPN points out the suspension could very well kill the Pirates' season. Marte got word just a day after his team had swept the Chicago Cubs, at Wrigley and looked like they might be a mover and shaker in the NL Central.
The team has now lost three games in a row and holds just a one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for last place in the division. Being as it's still April, 2017 is far from over. Last place in the Central is just three games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds, who play a three-game series against the Cubs this weekend. That means that if the Pirates move quickly to fill their roster hole, they still have a chance to make a run.
The Chicago Cubs and the big decision
The hole in the outfield Marte leaves brings a quandary for the Cubs.
Matt Szczur is likely going to be the guy who will have to be deal away from Chicago. LaStella, while not a gold glover at any position, can play almost every position on the field. Szczur has the ability to play all three outfield slots but Cubs manager Joe Maddon has shown he values extreme flexibility when looking at his bench.
The question comes down to whether Chicago believes the man lovingly referred to as "Salad" by many Cubs fans would hurt the team as a member of the Pirates more than whatever the franchise gets back in trade would help them. That question become magnified because of the number of times the Chicago Cubs would likely be facing off against their former teammate as the season goes on.