The Cubs have made a trade with the Oakland Athletics. Utility man Tony Kemp for minor leaguer Alfonso Rivas in a straight one for one.
Tony Kemp spent half of 2019 with the Cubs. Kemp was traded to the Cubs from the Astros to fill a gap off the bench. Unfortunately he was terrible, putting up a slash of .183/.258/.305/.563, good for a terrible 45 OPS+. Considering he had a 105 OPS+ for Houston in 2018, it was disappointing, to say the least. I know he was a flexible bench player who could play multiple spots, but I just can't see that bad bat again. That.563 OPS was Decalso like. Since Descalso is likely coming back, you just can't have two terrible hitters like that on your bench.
Alfonso Rivas is a soon to be 23 year old prospect. He skipped AA, and hit AAA for a few games in 2019. He's a career .290/.390/.411/.801 hitter in the minor leagues. He played primarily first base, but also 2 weeks worth of games at each corner outfield spot. Not a ton of power, but solid on base skills. He'll slot in as a depth pickup.
Kemp was due to make $583K in 2020, so the Cubs save a few bucks as they try to get under the luxury tax threshold. The Cubs reduced their gap by 25%, and have about a million and a half to go.This trade also opens up another spot on the 40 man roster, which now stands at 38.
So very quietly, the front office got a decent move in. They save a roster space, a little cash, and someone who can backup critical spots. Last year, the Cubs depth was tested at the corner outfield spots, exemplified by a several week tryout of the over the hill Carlos Gonzalez early summer. I'd prefer not to have to stoop to that level again, and like this kind of depth move.
Rivas's on base abilities should play well off the bench, and I feel good enough to where if Rizzo, Schwarber, or Heyward hit the IL, he can come up and eat a few PAs as a stopgap platoon player. Rivas slots in as an internal backup with options. I'm anticipating that he may bus back and forth a bit. We shall see.