Frank Schwindel Optioned to Triple-A Iowa Cubs

In conjunction with the surprising placement of Marcus Stroman on the Injured List (without an injury designation … ), the Cubs are bringing up an additional arm in Adrian Sampson today. The veteran swing man is not on the 40-man roster, so him coming up without a corresponding 40-man move means that Stroman must be going on the COVID IL, even if the team cannot confirm it.

The Cubs had to drop a player today because they were at 27 for yesterday’s double-header, so bringing up Sampson means someone has to go, even with Stroman going on the IL. Drew Smyly and Robert Gsellman are both staying up and active.

So, then … here’s the surprising other part of today’s moves: to make room for Sampson on the 26-man roster, Frank Schwindel is being optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs clearly want to keep Schwindel, 29, in the organization (instead of DFA’ing him), so it’s handy that he has options remaining. But clearly, after a super slow start in absolutely every respect, Schwindel needs some time to work things out. To date, he’s hitting just .209/.250/.308 (61 wRC+), with an increase in his strikeout rate from last year, a drop in his walk rate, an increase in groundball rate, a drop in hard contact, etc ., etc.

In Schwindel’s absence, first base will primarily belong to Alfonso Rivas, as it should right now (currently hitting .333/.455/.481, 168 wRC+, and is excellent defensively). I don’t even think I want to see Rivas platooned over there with anyone, or sitting more than rest would require. Give him a chance to face everyone, including lefties. So far, all he does is hit as a professional – let’s see if it continues.

At Iowa, if Schwindel gets regular at bats at 1B/DH, that’ll squeeze some of the time afforded to Jared Young and Nelson Maldonado, so I don’t love that part. Then again, I’m not 100% completely and totally ready to give up on Schwindel as a capable big league bat for the next couple years, even if being the kind of stud he was in a small sample last year is not remotely realistic.

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