The Cubs were mum after Brennen Davis was lifted early from an Arizona Fall League game on October 10, but he didn’t play again and it was eventually revealed that he had been shut down due to back tightness. Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic further clarified in November that the issue was actually a stress reaction, which can result in slipped discs if not caught early enough. As Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register reported Tuesday, however, the Cubs’ caution with Davis has apparently paid off.
As part of a broader update on the outlooks of five different prospects, Birch caught up with Cubs VP of player development Jared Banner. A previous report from Banner said Davis was close to full health, but now the outfielder is all the way back and working with “no limitations” as he makes up for lost time in preparation for the 2023 season.
“He’s doing well,” Banner told Birch. “He’s feeling healthy. He’s been spending a lot of time at our complex this offseason with our staff. I think he’ll be in a great place physically when camp starts.”
A series of physical setbacks have stunted Davis’s development timeline and may have delayed his MLB debut by at least a year. Injuries suffered when he was hit by pitches while trying to bunt cost him time earlier in his career, then he rocketed to the top of the club’s prospect rankings before a nerve issue in his low back tanked most of last season. Davis appeared to be back to normal at the start of the AFL before the stress reaction popped up.
There’s no need to rush him at this point because he needs at-bats and the Cubs have a full outfield, so even a hot start may not earn Davis a promotion to Chicago. Depending on how things go with Ian Happ‘s extension talks and the team’s performance, however, there could be an open spot or two come midseason. The most important thing here is just that Davis remains healthy and gets back to the point where his elite athleticism can show out.
Birch also offered a little information on Alexander Canario (nowhere near baseball activities, but recovering well), Matt Mervis (stay focused on process), Miguel Amaya (expected to be full go in camp), and Caleb Kilian (getting delivery back to where it was). Banner isn’t typically effusive and he’s not one to overshare, so there’s not a great deal of information here that we didn’t already know either through direct reports or simple inferences.
That said, the note on Davis being at a full go is very encouraging and could even inform the Cubs’ decisions when it comes to adding a bat this offseason. If the team is confident in his ability to resume his previous trajectory, there might not be as much of an impetus to target an outfielder. Having a healthy Davis also provides the front office with more leverage when it comes to any trades that might be on the horizon.
As strange as it sounds right now, we’re not much more than a month away from spring training report dates and getting more than just word of mouth on what’s happening with the Cubs.