ST. LOUIS — The Cubs’ needs approaching the trade deadline next month might have become clearer with the news Friday that top pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay’s lat injury will sideline the right-hander for the rest of the season.
Alzolay, who was on the radar for a possible big-league debut in a spot start last month, was considered part of the Cubs’ late-season pitching depth until going on the minor-league disabled list May 30.
“With him we had our eyes on two different things,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Finishing off his development and then obviously whether he was going to be able to help us. He was certainly trending in that direction.
“We’re going to be on the lookout for depth in the rotation and depth in the bullpen no matter what,” Hoyer said of trade shopping. “But this underscores that a little bit.”
Alzolay, 23, has been shut down from throwing since the injury. Recent medical evaluations determined that the injury won’t require surgery, Hoyer said, but that the prescribed rest will push back rehab work long enough to make a 2018 return improbable at best without rushing.
“It’s a bad break for him and the club,” Hoyer said. “But the good news is that it wasn’t serious enough to need surgery. It’s just the nature of the time we are in the season.”
The Cubs haven’t put a timeline on a possible return to action for instructional-league or Arizona Fall League play, or even winter ball. Alzolay was 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA for Class AAA Iowa.
“It’s a setback for 2018, but we don’t see it as a setback for his career,” Hoyer said. “We love the makeup. We love the stuff. And we think he’s going to help us a lot in the future. But obviously there’s a setback, and he’ll need some development over the course of the winter and then obviously development in the minor leagues next year because he missed a lot of time.”