The Chicago Cubs have benefitted from expanded September rosters in the past – and seem likely to do so again this season, even with a loaded 25-man.
In the middle of the 1989 season the Chicago Cubs entire Opening Day outfield was injured. Dwight Smith, Lloyd McClendon and Doug Dascenzo filled in so well that a Smith/McClendon platoon took over for Mitch Webster in left field. And Smith finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting to teammate Jerome Walton.
But Dascenzo was unceremoniously sent back to the minors when Walton and Andre Dawson returned from injury. There wasn’t a spot available for him on the 25-man active roster. Then on Sept. 1, the team had no trouble finding an available roster spot for Dascenzo. No, no one became newly injured.
The active roster expanded to up to 40 players. Even though Dascenzo was unlikely to play in the postseason, he could spend the last month of the season helping the ’89 Cubs get there. It wasn’t as if he was missing out on anything at Triple-A. Most minor league teams end their seasons around that time anyway. That was my personal introduction to the strange quirk of Major League Baseball’s expanded September rosters.