Just because the season has ended doesn’t mean the Cubs are done skimming the waiver wire for hidden treasure.
Today, the Cubs claimed righty Carlos Gutierrez off of waivers from the Twins, and designated Anthony Recker for assignment to open up a 40-man spot. Gutierrez, who just turned 26, was the Twins’ first round pick back in 2008, and has put up mixed numbers since then. He was a starter until he reached the higher levels of the minors in 2010, and, as so many promising young arms that don’t quite have the stamina or pitch mix to stay on as starters are, he was converted to a reliever. From there, he saw a dramatic uptick in his K-rate (almost 10 K per 9 between 2011 and 2012), and, last year, his BB-rate dropped precipitously – just 1.7. That yielded a ridiculous 6.67 K/BB ratio in 2012 at AAA.
So, why were the Twins willing to dump a guy who looked like he’d turned a corner and had the potential to be a dominant reliever? Well, those ridiculous numbers last year came in just 16 innings of work. It turns out that Gutierrez had a bum shoulder that required surgery in July. He’s expected to be healthy enough to pitch by Spring, but the Cubs are clearly buying a lottery ticket here. If he comes back healthy, he could be a surprise addition in the pen. If he doesn’t come back healthy, the Cubs bought themselves one fewer 40-man roster spot over the Winter.
As for Recker, the Cubs had a little bit of time to evaluate him, after they swapped him for Blake Lalli late in the year. Either they didn’t think he could hack it as their back-up-back-up at AAA next year, or they think he’ll pass through waivers unclaimed, and accept an assignment to Iowa. I’m betting on the latter.