Zach McKinstry had a feeling he soon would be on the move from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Conversations with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and understanding how he fit in the organization’s plans prepared McKinstry for Saturday’s trade to the Chicago Cubs. He joined the team Sunday and was added to the roster after first baseman Alfonso Rivas was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
McKinstry already might be endearing himself to Chicago. He gave a shout-out in a social media post to deep-dish pizza and Lou Malnati’s. McKinstry grew up about three hours away in Fort Wayne, Ind., and made “a bunch” of trips to Chicago. He even received a direct message from Lou Malnati’s on Instagram.
“Definitely know a lot of other pizza and a big fan of their pizza,” McKinstry said before Sunday night’s 4-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. “In Phoenix where I live now, we go at least once a month to splurge a little bit.”
Joining the Cubs presents a fresh 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 left-handed bat they can plug in 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 Sunday.
“Playing every day is my goal, and that’s why we’re here,” McKinstry said. “I felt almost like a caged animal there just hanging out on the bench — getting to see what they’re doing, though, learning from some of the best in the game — and I’m excited to use it now.”
McKinstry wants Cubs fans to know he goes hard, plays to the best of his ability and gives 100% on every play.
“I just want to win baseball games,” he said. “So that’s my main priority. And I think we’re going to have a good opportunity of doing that.”
This minor trade for veteran reliever Chris Martin is the type that can pay dividends by allocating bench resources elsewhere. The Cubs have two months to see if McKinstry can be a utility player whom manager David Ross can slot in where needed next year or a left-handed bat off the bench.
Good teams can find those types of players internally. And with more playing time and an extended look, perhaps McKinstry can get locked in and become an everyday player.
Regardless, this is a low-risk trade for a big-league-ready player whom the Cubs can evaluate the next couple of weeks.
The Cubs also made a deal with the Giants on Sunday in an exchange of minor-leaguers. They acquired right-hander Raynel Espinal for infielder Dixon Machado, whom the Giants added to the active roster and started at shortstop Sunday night.