Cubs Claim Righty Carlos Gutierrez Off Waivers from Twins

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.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

48 responses to “Cubs Claim Righty Carlos Gutierrez Off Waivers from Twins”

  1. terencemann

    It costs the Cubs nothing to give him a shot and he’s a tall, hard-throwing reliever. Sounds like a plan.

  2. cubchymyst

    Still waiting for the 40 man purge to make room before the rule 5 draft. I want to know who the front office thinks is worthy of a 40 man spot and who they don’t.

    1. nkniacc13

      I also think its going to be interesting to see who they keep and who they don’t. I doubt we will see any moves but wouldn’t be a total shock to see a move or 2 with players having to be put on the 40 man getting moved

  3. gutshot5820

    Eh… who cares is my opinion. They made an absolutely enormous amount of these buy low DFA moves last year and the only one they are interested in keeping is Shawn Camp who is ok but decidedly average, Tired of reading about these castoffs that even some of the worst teams don’t want that keep taking up 40 man roster spots. I’ll be a lot more impressed when one of these buy low deals turns out to actually be worth a spot on a playoff team. Until then, I consider them just dumpster diving. This seems to be the new philosophy of the FO. puke…

    1. Johnny

      And what else do you exactly expect them to do? Magically summon guys from AA and AAA who can throw Aspirin tablets out of the bullpen? If there’s anything the Cubs farm system is strong in, it’s bullpen depth, but you can still never have too many. I’d love to hear what your plan would be for these 2013 Cubs.

      1. nkniacc13

        with them apparently movine A.Cabrera to a starter that’s one less bullpen arm

      2. gutshot5820

        All I’m saying is we are scraping from the bottom of the barrel all the time nowadays. These DFA guys are not even free agents, they are basically players nobody wants or wants with any type of risk associated with them. These deals and the buy-low rebound, low-priced free agents are basically what the MO of the Theo and Ricketts are, They are basically charging one of the highest ticket prices in the world for a 2 hour game of baseball and selling it to the fans by telling them to be patient, we guarantee we are going to be great in a few years, which is laughable at best because every team is trying to great and nobody can guarantee something like that.

        1. TWC

          scraping from the bottom of the barrel all the time nowadays

          It should be noted, and people should regularly remind themselves, that there really aren’t any free agents to sign (or even pursue) right now, there haven’t been in many months, and there won’t be for at least another couple of weeks. Barring trades (which generally don’t happen between 8/1 and the end of the WS), of course any roster move will be of the DFA pick-up/waiver variety. It’s every FO’s philosophy to buy low/sell high. Every waiver pickup that every team makes is an attempt to find a player “worth a spot on a playoff team”.

          1. gutshot5820

            I understand what you are saying, I’m not saying these are bad moves just that they are not anything newsworthy or even remotely worth getting excited about. Wake me up when one of them actually turn out to be any good.

            This is what we are now relegated to. Talking about every low-priced free agent and DFA WW pickup. Maybe it will all turn out to be good, but I’m sure as heck not excited about these types of moves and would rather talk about them when they actually turn out to be good.

            1. TWC

              This is what we are now relegated to. Talking about every low-priced free agent and DFA WW pickup.

              That’s because it’s the postseason, and the Cubs aren’t involved, and major roster moves almost never occur.

              Maybe it will all turn out to be good, but [I] … would rather talk about them when they actually turn out to be good.

              Well then, pal, maybe you ought to refrain from reading and/or commenting on stories about said roster moves, eh?

              I, too, look forward to the opening of the free agency and the myriad of stories and articles then. But until that time, should BN go dark?

              1. gutshot5820

                Christ, are you an idiot? If anyone has an opinion that is different than yours, you are going to drive them out of this site? Who made you literary captain of this blog?

                1. TWC

                  So you make a comment on a story of a minor roster move, complaining that you’d rather comment about these minor roster moves when “they actually turn good”, and *I* am the idiot? Okay.

                  Who made you literary captain of this blog?

                  MichiganGoat did.

                  1. gutshot5820

                    Did I personally attack your opinions? I was minding my own business and expressing my own opinion and never did I tell someone to basically fuck off and refrain from reading or commenting on this blog.

                    1. Dan

                      Let’s try to be civil here people!

                  2. Rick Vaughn

                    MG name drop for the win

            2. Luke

              Brett covers nearly all roster moves with an article, big or small. He has for quite some time. That attention to detail and reliable-ness is a large part of what makes this site awesome.

              1. gutshot5820

                Now you are chiming in. I’m not criticizing this blog in any way, you guys do an excellent job. I’m just expressing my view that these DFA WW pickups are not exciting to me in any minute way in regards to improving the club outside of being roster fillers. Some may see these as low risk upside lottery picks. I see them as roster fillers in a season long endeavor by Theo and Co. to pick up guys that generally no other team would have traded for a bag of baseballs. Which is why they are DFA’ed and not traded. And I’m critical of these moves because I foresee another season just like this one.

                This is not a slight on BN, just my opinion on these type of moves. What’s wrong with that?

                1. ron

                  Wow, when you go into a restaurant not everything is gourmet, they have chicken tenders for Christ’s sake((not ours btw). Good work Ace, if he does pan out i know where he came from and read it here first.

                2. Chris

                  You also have to factor in the time of year. Brett is filling the Cubs news void by pontificating on small moves to help us get through the offseason, otherwise known as the World Series. The only other Cubs tidbit he’s got to write about now is how Shohei Otani was drafted and will be delayed in signing with an ML team until April, thanks to the NPB agreement with MLB. Thank you Nippon Ham! Maybe this buys enough time to get the Cubs to July and a new budget for international signings. Maybe I’m too excited for a move that’s very improbable, but I’m also a guy that can’t wait to scour the Rule 5 eligible list when it’s official

            3. DarthHater

              Midol needed in Aisle 6, please!

      3. Mike

        Aspirin tablets….LMAO! That was a great line. I agree, you can never have too much depth of pitching. This is a quality low-risk move, and all it costs them is Recker (if he doesn’t accept an assignment to AAA)….so no real value loss there. Carlos Gutierrez is a potential mid-to-late inning reliever, if he comes back healthy. I think these moves can be compared a little to those who flip low-cost items found at garage sales: you find an item that a seller is basically giving away in price, and you may or may not find a hidden treasure. If the price is right, it’s worth the risk. And the Cubs can sure use some low-risk/high reward pitching right now. Either that, or they over-pay for middle or late-inning free agent relievers, or trade for them. With this rebuilding mode, I think it is a much better plan to go with low-risk guys and save money and/or prospects for when they are in contention….then you might take the risk with money and trades, higher-priced free agents. Imho.

    2. Grant

      Maholm was such a guy. He had a respectable half-year for the Braves who won a Wild Card, AND he netted us Vizcaino. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when the cost is low, why not see if it’s worth anything?

  4. nkniacc13

    The thing that I like about these types of moves right now is that the cost in minimal and they allow the Cubs to keep from rushing prospects up the ladder allowing them to promote when they are ready not because they have to. For a rebuilding team thats important. And who knows maybe they can gets someone that allows them to flip them or someone else for a prospect

  5. Kyle

    By far my favorite WW pickup so far. Real, honest-to-goodness bullpen upside? Be still, my heart.

  6. Bret Epic

    I like the gamble. The guy hasn’t had a huge amount of success so far, but seems to have potential. Great K/BB ratio last year (in a small sample size) but a hideous HR/9 of 1.1. If he can continue with similar ratios to last year in AAA and cut down his HR/9, we could have a pretty good waiver pick up on our hands.

  7. Njriv

    Should/would the Cubs pursue Matt Capps? Or would he be too expensive?

  8. Bill

    Ok, I know his K/9 look good, and he’s not costing anything but bleh. High WHIP and a guy who’s coming off shoulder surgery. The surgery was in July so I’m very skeptical he’ll be ready to go next spring. You know the team is horrible when you get this much discussion about a player who the fanbase for any other team would give a giant yawn. If he’s a hard -thrower, his ball must come in straight as an arrow because he gives up a lot of hits per 9 innings (btw I’m not sure how hard he throws).

    1. baldtaxguy

      26 responses to this article prior to mine, with a majority of them attributable to someone defending his opinions this is a non-story. So, the discussion does not appear to be topic 1 on this board’s fan base, notwithstanding how “horrible” the team is.

      And I may need to be corrected on this one, but the Cubs get chance #2 on the wire after the Astros, correct? If I have this right, “any other team” did not have a chance to “give a giant yawn.”

      If one or two of these “but bleh” claims pan out, isn’t this process worthwhile?

      1. The Dude Abides

        I agree the upside on this former Minnesota first round pick is HUGE. The Twins are notorious for throwing 26 yr. old guys to the curb and digging into their checkbook for another player. Isn’t there some eighteen year old hitting bombs somewhere we could talk about??

  9. Chris

    While not a bad thing to take a look at a guy that maybe had a high grade once upon a time, these types of moves are really just roster shuffling to try to improve the quality of the 40th guy on the 40-man. Great if it works out better than expected, but nothing to get too excited about. My guess is they’ve done an assessment and realize that they’ll only need a few extra spots to protect guys for Rule 5, and probably 1-2 spots to draft a Rule 5 guy or two. I can’t knock the practice, as that’s how Theo signed guys like David Ortiz, but I won’t get too excited about it either. Depending on how free agency goes, chances are high that he gets cut to make room for someone they sign anyway.

  10. Big Joe

    I, too, am tired of moves like this one. Careful, gutshot, people around here are pretty defensive when you don’t agree with the masses.

    1. hansman1982

      I love how there is a mass of people on here who say that the other mass of people on here are hating on them for not being in the mass of people…

      1. TWC

        That’s ‘Merica, dammit!

  11. Big Joe

    Just. Wow.
    Yes, you should write about it. It’s Cubs news. It’s what you do. I wasn’t attacking your site, or your job. I said I didn’t like the move. That has nothing to do with you, unless you are making roster moves for the team now.
    Gutshot merely voiced his opinion, and got a bunch of grief. That was my point.
    Was it really that hard to understand?

  12. Big Joe

    I’m not worked up in the least. I was just curious how I could make myself any clearer. A negative comment on a story, isn’t always a shot at its author. Try to remember that.

  13. Big Joe

    My initial post was in agreement with gutshot. The guy gave his opinion, and got a bunch of undue grief. When you asked “Me not write about it?”, that infers that just because people don’t like the move, they don’t think you should report (or, actually, blog) about it. That makes it personal towards you. Of course you should inform your web visitors. Just because I don’t agree with the move, doesn’t mean you have no business talking about it.
    I don’t like the move, because the last 12 months are packed with moves like this (reported by, believe it, or not…other outlets). It’s a shit move. Low risk? Yes. Big deal. How’s that working out for you, Theo.
    Again, that’s nothing but my opinion. It’s frustration with the Chicago Cubs, not anyone’s story on the move. I think some tend to forget, at times, that those two are mutually exclusive.

  14. Chicago Cubs Claim Righty Zach Putnam Off Waivers from Rockies | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] today, as teams make room for anticipated free agency signings, starting as soon as tomorrow. The Cubs snagged pitcher Carlos Gutierrez off of waivers from the Twins a couple weeks ago. [...]

  15. The Day After: Extensive Thoughts on Yesterday’s Roster Moves | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Gutierrez was waived just a month after the Cubs picked him up off of waivers from the Twins. I still like him as a possible future bullpen contributor, and, if you’re going to waive him [...]