Cubs Clear Another 40-Man Spot After Waiving, Outrighting Edwin Uceta

The Cubs made an under-the-radar procedural move Friday that should factor in a more significant way within the next week or so, as righty Edwin Uceta cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa. That gives the team three open spots on the 40-man roster, one of which will go to Jordan Wicks once he’s officially added. The other two will go to Pete Crow-Armstrong and possibly Luke Little or Shane Greene, though there are a number of other relievers waiting on the 60-day IL.

Ed note: Just in case you forgot or never saw in the first place, the Cubs claimed Uceta off waivers from the Mets last week.

PCA is a given, it’s just a matter of how much longer the Cubs want him getting everyday at-bats with Iowa before he comes up to boost the energy of the big club. He’s going to be playing the corner outfield spots more for the time being and just made his first start in right field on Thursday night for the I-Cubs. The elite defender trotted out to center to begin the game before realizing his error and backtracking, then he made the first out of the game on a catch at the wall in right.

Little began the season as a starter with High-A South Bend and made four starts before shifting to the bullpen, where he made one relief appearance and was quickly promoted to Double-A Tennessee. Little worked out of the pen 23 times for the Smokies and has pitched five times for the I-Cubs, working two innings in three of those games.

The 39 walks over 60 innings are a bit of a concern, but that goes away in the face of his absurd 99 strikeouts. That comes from getting extension and downward tilt from his 6-foot-8 frame, making his upper-90s fastball play up and paving the way for his wipeout slider. Little could really be a monster if he can figure out the changeup. Even with just two pitches, having a hard-throwing southpaw who can miss bats will be a boon to the bullpen.

It’s funny to think that he could be kind of what Brailyn Márquez was supposed to be, just with a lot less hype.

Greene’s been around for a long time and has served as a starter for the I-Cubs since joining them on August 6, so he’s stretched out and could operate as a swingman or long-relief option. Brad Boxberger, Nick Burdi, and Brandon Hughes are all hanging out on the IL and would need a spot in order to be activated, but the Cubs obviously can’t have all of these guys in the bullpen.

Or maybe they can.

It’s entirely likely we’ll see Marcus Stroman shifted to the 60-day IL soon since his fractured rib cartilage could take six weeks to heal, with the subsequent ramp-up lasting at least two more weeks. There are a few more DFA candidates on the roster, but I’ll leave it to you to figure out who those might be.

I tell you what, it’s a helluva lot more fun to speculate on who’s coming up to aid in the playoff push than to see which random dudes will get everyday playing time in an effort to push for a lottery selection.

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