SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Zach McKinstry had a feeling he might be leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers soon.
Conversations with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and understanding how he fit into the organization’s plans prepared McKinstry to Saturday’s trade to the Chicago Cubs. He joined the team on Sunday and was added to the roster after first baseman Alfonso Rivas was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
McKinstry could already be endearing himself to Chicago. He gave recognition in a social media post to deep dish pizza and Lou Malnati’s. McKinstry grew up about three hours away in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and made “a lot” of trips to Chicago. She even received a direct message from Lou Malnati on Instagram.
“I definitely know a lot of other pizzas and I’m a big fan of their pizza,” McKinstry said before Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants. “In Phoenix, where I live now, we go at least once a month to splurge a bit.”
Joining the Cubs presents a new opportunity for the 27-year-old infielder/outfielder and potentially more playing time, something that was limited on a loaded Dodgers roster. From the Cubs’ perspective, McKinstry gives them a lefty bat they can hit at multiple positions and possibly unlock more if they find him regular at-bats after the trade deadline.
He struck out in his Cubs debut as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning on Sunday.
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“Playing every day is my goal, and that’s why we’re here,” McKinstry said. “I felt almost like a caged animal just hanging out on the bench though, seeing what they’re doing, learning from some of the best in the game, and I’m excited to use it now.”
McKinstry wants Cubs fans to know that he works hard, plays his best and gives 100% on every play.
“I just want to win baseball games,” he said. “So that’s my top priority. And I think we’re going to have a good chance of doing it.”
This minor trade for veteran reliever Chris Martin is the kind that can pay dividends by allocating the bench’s resources elsewhere. The Cubs have two months to see if McKinstry can be a utility player that manager David Ross can place where he’s needed next year or a left-handed bat off the bench.
Good teams can find those kinds of players internally. And with more playing time and an extended appearance, perhaps McKinstry can lock down and become an everyday player.
Regardless, this is a low-risk trade for a major league-ready player whom the Cubs can evaluate in the next two weeks.
The Cubs also made a deal with the Giants on Sunday in a minor league trade. They acquired right-hander Raynel Espinal for infielder Dixon Machado, whom the Giants added to the active roster and started at shortstop Sunday night.