Viewed as sellers only weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs have turned their season around and now look more like buyers about five weeks shy of the trade deadline. The latest injury updates could shed some light on one area of focus for the front office: shoring up the bullpen.
Cubs Injuries: Bullpen additions now a 'must' as the trade deadline nears
Right-hander Codi Heuer was expected to be a shot in the arm for the pitching staff this summer, but he's now done for the year after suffering a right elbow fracture during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa. It's a tough blow for the 26-year-old, who was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and nearing a return to the big leagues.
Heuer came to the Cubs in the Craig Kimbrel trade with the White Sox along with infielder Nick Madrigal and, given Madrigal's struggles during his North Side tenure, folks have put an increased emphasis on Heuer and what he can bring to the team. For now, the wait continues - and that's not the only bad news on the injury front in the bullpen.
Southpaw reliever Brandon Hughes needs surgery on his left knee and a best-case scenario has him back next year during spring training. The Cubs' need for left-handed relievers is nothing new, and the loss of Hughes obviously doesn't help matters.
Last, but certainly not least, former top prospect Brennen Davis - who had back surgery amidst a disappointing 2022 season - now needed another procedure, this one to address a core injury. The shine has certainly wore off Davis who looked like a shell of his former self even when he was on the field this year, batting just .198/.316/.299 in 187 plate appearances.
Given his injuries in recent years, you can no longer pencil Davis into the team's long-term plans. Thankfully, at least in the foreseeable future, the outfield picture is clear: Ian Happ in left, Seiya Suzuki in right and top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong will eventually assume center field duties - perhaps as early as 2024.