As first confirmed by Greg Zumach of Ivy Futures, Alexander Canario is no longer on the Cubs’ Arizona Fall League roster and will be replaced by Christian Franklin. This raises some questions and could even give rise to conspiracy theories about Canario’s inclusion in an offseason trade — something that seemed very likely prior to his injury — but the motivation for the change is probably very simple.
I still maintain that the Cubs were initially viewing Canario’s promotion as a way to dial back his playing time late in the season following what was surely a grueling rehab process over the first half of the year. David Ross was more comfortable with the guys that got them there anyway, plus Canario was already on the 40-man roster and didn’t necessitate a corresponding move.
What’s more, the Iowa Cubs needed room in the outfield for the return of Brennen Davis. In addition to checking several procedural and developmental boxes, Canario was being rewarded for his hard work with a couple MLB paychecks. The calculus changed slightly, however, when Jeimer Candelario landed on the IL. Canario had been optioned the day before, then was immediately recalled and ended up getting 16 plate appearances over the last two weeks of the season after getting just one in his first two weeks with the Cubs.
Though his playing time was still sporadic, Canario displayed the power and bat speed that had made him such a terror in the minors. Perhaps the Cubs felt like he showed them everything they needed to see and would not need the AFL. Multiple Twitter users replied to Zumach’s report saying Canario will be playing for Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Winter League, which is where he suffered a shattered ankle and dislocated shoulder last year, so he will still be able to make up for lost time.
I’m not sure if there’s anything more to that than simply being able to spend the offseason at home, but it might be a matter of the outfielder getting back on the horse, so to speak. When you put everything together, I think it’s entirely possible that all of the separate ideas laid out here are true to some extent.
The Cubs and other teams may have seen what they needed to see, so there’s no need to keep Canario stateside. That brief display could have helped his value in the trade market in the event that the Cubs look to do some splashy buying, which they should. It’s also a good thing after the rehab process to let Canario play back at home, which offers numerous psychological benefits.
Regardless of exactly where his path heads in the future, this young man is going to be very fun to watch.