The latest twist in Chris Coghlan’s unpredictable career has him returning to the Cubs after Thursday’s trade with the Oakland A’s shipped out Arismendy Alcantara and foreshadowed Tommy La Stella’s move to the disabled list.
Coghlan, the National League’s 2009 Rookie of the Year with the Florida Marlins, initially signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in 2014, worked his way up from Triple-A Iowa and eventually emerged as a key contributor to last year’s 97-win playoff team, hitting 16 home runs and playing all over the infield and outfield.
But Coghlan became expendable when the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler in late February to play center field and be their leadoff guy. Coghlan got flipped to Oakland, where he’s struggled to find his left-handed swing, batting .146 with a .487 OPS in what was supposed to be a platform year before hitting the free-agent market.
Now Coghlan is an insurance policy for a 41-17 team that already has outfielders Jorge Soler (strained left hamstring) and Kyle Schwarber (season-ending left knee surgery) on the disabled list.
La Stella – a good role player who can handle multiple infield positions and provide a left-handed bat off the bench – strained his right hamstring during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Look for the Cubs to place La Stella on the disabled list before Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
After an initial burst of excitement in 2014, Alcantara never lived up to the “next Ben Zobrist” hype and didn’t have a clear path back to the big leagues in an organization stocked with elite position players. Alcantara was batting .264 with five homers, five triples, nine doubles and a .751 OPS through 53 games at Iowa this year.
Maybe the change of scenery will reenergize a 24-year-old switch-hitter/up-the-middle defender with a unique combination of skills that didn’t quite translate in Chicago.