Cubs DFA Eric Hosmer, option Keegan Thompson, put Cody Bellinger on IL

The team reinstated second baseman Nico Hoerner from the IL, selected outfielder Mike Tauchman and recalled first baseman Edwin Ríos.

SHARE Cubs DFA Eric Hosmer, option Keegan Thompson, put Cody Bellinger on IL


PHILADELPHIA — Telling first baseman Eric Hosmer that he had been designated for assignment was a “super difficult” conversation for David Ross.

Less than five months earlier, Ross had been on the phone with Hosmer, the first baseman’s deal with the Cubs all but finalized, talking about what awaited him in Chicago.

On Friday, the Cubs put Cody Bellinger (bruised left knee) on the 10-day injured list, and they needed a center fielder. From a front-office perspective, Hosmer had yet to show signs of a bounce-back year. And the Cubs needed a 40-man roster spot to call up Mike -Tauchman.

In addition to DFAing Hosmer and putting Bellinger on the IL, the Cubs optioned reliever Keegan Thompson to Triple-A Iowa. -Second baseman Nico Hoerner returned from the 10-day IL after a -minimum stint with a strained left hamstring. And the Cubs brought in outfield and first-base reinforcements, selecting Tauchman from Triple-A and recalling Edwin Rios.

“He’s been a big part of impacting this group since spring training, the way he comes in and works every single day,” Ross said of Hosmer. “Just an emotional day from that standpoint. That’s probably the worst part of my job, having those types of conversations.

“He’s as [much of] a professional as I’ve ever been around. And his energy has impacted a lot of guys around this clubhouse, the coaching staff, our organization, in a great way. So, sad to see him go.”

The Cubs signed Hosmer to the league minimum over the offseason in a low-risk move. The Padres were on the hook to pay the rest of the eight-year, $144 million deal he signed with them in 2018.

Hosmer began the year platooning at first base but was demoted to a bench role when the team called up first-base prospect Matt Mervis two weeks ago. Hosmer hit .234 in 31 games with the Cubs.

Ross pushed back on the notion that the series of changes could provide a jolt to the team amid a five-game losing streak.

“I don’t think the moves came from a shake-up perspective,” he said. “I would say, Keegan is really important to our success. We need him right. If Belli doesn’t go down, then Hosmer’s probably still here. We need that defense out there in center field.”

The conversation with Thompson wasn’t easy either.

“But also you’ve got to understand, he’s not the best version of himself,” Ross said. “And who’s it helping sending him out there not at his best?”

Thompson will stretch out in Triple-A to shift back to a multiple-inning relief role. He thrived in that role last season, but the Cubs tried to transition him into a hybrid job that included both long relief and one-inning sprints this year.

Thompson’s walk rate rose to 15.4% this season, and he’s recorded a 9.95 ERA in five outings in May.

“Everyone’s caught off guard a little bit when they get the news,” Thompson said. “But I’ve been inconsistent.”

Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy saw the productivity of sending Thompson to Triple-A as three-fold. In addition to giving Thompson a chance to stretch out, it would provide a mental breather. And it was a setting where he could make the adjustments to cut down the non-competitive pitches after getting ahead in the count — Thompson has the third-best first-pitch strike rate (67%) on the team, behind only Jameson Taillon and -Jeremiah Estrada.

“It is important when guys get a little off, or something becomes off, to get them in a role or get them in a situation that gives them the highest chance for them to be successful,” Hottovy said.

The Cubs had been carrying an extra reliever while using off days to make a four-man rotation work temporarily. The moves Friday gave them an extra position player on the bench while trimming the bullpen back down to the usual eight relievers.

Ross said he was hopeful Bellinger will only need a minimum IL stint, but he was cautious about making any definitive statements.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, but we don’t know,” Ross said.

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