It was only moments after the Chicago Cubs traded Chris Coghlan to the Oakland Athletics at the beginning of spring training in February that popular outfielder Dexter Fowler made his surprising return to the team. As he walked out to the mound with much fanfare, Coghlan slipped out of the Cubs' facility with very little.
Coghlan is back, with Arismendy Alcantara headed to the A's, as the Cubs saw a need after Jorge Soler went down recently and now with Tommy La Stella dealing with his own hamstring injury. It was probably a fairly easy deal to consummate, considering Coghlan is hitting just .146 for the last-place Athletics and with the Cubs' front office already knowing the infielder/outfielder fits into the clubhouse.
Coghlan is an intense player who hit in the middle of the Cubs' lineup during their second-half surge in 2015. In fact, the team was 27-9 when he hit third in the batting order. He also hit line drives at a nearly 30 percent clip last season but is down to just 19 percent this year. He found his game again for the Cubs after arriving as a spring invitee before 2014; now the 30-year-old will have to do it one more time.
And remember, Coghlan is versatile, so Cubs manager Joe Maddon has as many as four players who can play both the infield and outfield, including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist. In terms of the lineup, Maddon can choose from righties Matt Szczur and Albert Almora to play left field when a lefty is on the mound -- or Bryant -- or go with Coghlan when the Cubs face a righty. Maddon is a big believer in platoons and is likely to go that route with Coghlan. First, hitting coach John Mallee has to help Coghlan find his stroke again.
It’s too early to determine what happens when Soler and La Stella return from their hamstring injuries, but either the situation will play itself out with an obvious solution or the Cubs could scale back from carrying three catchers. For now, they can welcome one of their 2015 mainstays back into the fold, and Coghlan just improved by 16 games in the standings. But can his production return to 2015 form? The Cubs are hoping so.