Today, the Chicago Cubs made cuts that will shock and dismay casual observers (Javier Baez) and hardcore fans (Blake Parker) alike.
The most prominent cut is also one that is completely expected, and was always coming: Javier Baez, after a fantastic Spring, is headed to minor league camp, where he’ll break into the year at AAA, starting at shortstop. Nothing was going to prevent that from happening. Baez still has some things to work on, and hopefully he’ll force his way into the big leagues come mid-season.
The most surprising cut, however, is reliever Blake Parker, who was long considered an inside favorite for one of the few open bullpen spots. After posting fantastic numbers last year – 2.67 ERA over 46.1 innings, 2.9 BB/9, 10.7 K/9 – most assumed Parker would stick with the big club to open the year, even after a shaky Spring. With options left, though, the Cubs can move him to Iowa to start the year and not risk losing him.
Speaking of which … with Chang-Yong Lim, Jonathan Sanchez, and Brian Schlitter also being cut today, we can take a pretty reasonable stab at projecting the bullpen. We know that Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, James Russell, and Wesley Wright are locks, leaving three more spots. Considering today’s cuts, it’s pretty clear that Alberto Cabrera (out of options) will be given a spot, rather than risking exposing him to waivers. Hector Rondon was fantastic late last year and has flashed good stuff this Spring, so he’s probably in, too. That last spot, then, would be going either to Justin Grimm or Carlos Villanueva. If Chris Rusin is kept up as the fifth starter, then Villanueva would head to the pen, and Grimm would likely head to Iowa. If Villanueva gets the gig, then Grimm could be kept up. Neil Ramirez is a theoretical possibility, too, but I’m hoping he’s given a chance to start at Iowa for a little while.
Utility man Chris Valaika and outfielder Casper Wells (who’s been dealing with a back issue) were also cut today. The Spring roster stands at 37.