With the non-tender deadline at 7pm CT on Friday, the Chicago Cubs made their first roster move of the day as the team has claimed infielder Rylan Bannon off waivers from the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs' 40-man roster now stands at 39.
It is worth noting that the Cubs have yet to make any other announcements in regard to their 40-man roster outside of the Bannon claim. Meaning, with fringe players such as Zach McKinstry, Rafael Ortega, and Alfonso Rivas all candidates to be non-tendered, it is likely that the Cubs' 40-man roster will not remain at 39 by the time Friday night is over.
After being drafted in the 8th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bannon reached the Major League level for the first time in 2022. In 15 plate appearances between the Braves and Baltimore Orioles last season, Bannon had a slash line of .143/.200/.143/.343. Bannon did show offensive promise with the Braves' triple-A affiliate in 2022 as he slashed .328/.447/.478/.925 and a 152 wRC+ in 85 plate appearances.
In their writeup of the Orioles' prospects prior to 2021, FanGraphs offered this analysis of Bannon:
"There’s no change here: He isn’t especially graceful nor does he have great hands or actions, but Bannon plays an adequate, effort-based second and third base. More importantly, he can hit. His low load enables him to lift pitches with regularity, but he’s also short back to the ball and tough to beat with velocity. This becomes especially true with two strikes, when Bannon chokes up and spoils tough pitches. He runs deep counts and walks a bunch, and he’s going to hit a ton of doubles and play a shift-aided spot on the infield. He struggles to lay off of breaking stuff below the zone but as long as that’s not a devastating issue, I think Bannon will be a big league role player. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League)"- FanGraphs
The goal for the Cubs may be to unlock the offensive upside that Bannon showed in his climb to the Major League level. If the Cubs believe the sample size he had with the Braves triple-A affiliate at the end of the season in 2022 is legitimate, it could be a worthwhile gamble. These are the type of gambles that are made on the non-tender deadline day for Major League Baseball teams.
The move is very peculiar for the Cubs considering the team acquired a very similar infielder this week. On Tuesday, the Cubs traded for utility infielder Miles Mastrobuoni of the Tampa Bay Rays. Chances are the Cubs will try to sneak both Mastrobuoni and Bannon through waivers at some point during the offseason.