In their latest episode of How the Roster Churns, the Cubs opted for recently acquired speed and outfield defense over a recently acquired bat as they opened a three-game series against the division-rival Reds.
Former Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, who was claimed off waivers from the Mets over the holiday weekend, was added to the 28-man roster Tuesday.
To clear room on the roster, the Cubs optioned José Martínez — 0-for-14 since being acquired in a trade from Tampa Bay — to alternate-site South Bend.
“We need him,” manager David Ross said of Martínez. “He’s a really valuable piece that we feel can help us. It’s just with his timing right now being so off, and where he feels like he’s at, at the plate, it’s just getting some consistent at-bats.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton — one of the fastest runners in the game — becomes the “threat that we don’t have,” said Ross, who plans to use Hamilton as a pinch runner and for late-inning defense.
“He probably won’t see a whole lot of at-bats early on,” the manager said of the .241 career hitter who was just 1-for-22 with the Mets this season.
Hamilton has 302 career steals.
Regardless of what the Cubs’ hitting roster looks like with less than three weeks to go in the season, don’t expect it to be anything but fluid the rest of the way.
Ross said the “hope” is that Martínez loads up on at-bats in the required 10 days at South Bend, misses only the eight games on the Cubs’ schedule in that span and returns as an effective part of the lineup plans at that point.