Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs claimed lefty reliever Joe Ortiz off of waivers from the Rangers. We know the Cubs would like to add to their contingent of lefties in the bullpen, or at least competing for a spot in the bullpen. So, is Ortiz that guy?
Well, the short answer is: maybe. Maybe not. But we don’t really need to know as we sit here today.
More on Ortiz:
- The 24-year-old lefty is on the smaller side, listed at 5’7″ and 175 lbs. Ortiz is one of those rare pitchers that worked his way up the minors entirely as a reliever, and was highly effective all the way up until his big league debut in 2013. So effective, in fact, that he’d become a top 30ish prospect in the loaded Rangers system – not an easy task for a pure relief prospect.
- After 2013, it looked like Ortiz was going to be an important piece of the Rangers’ bullpen going forward. He posted a 4.23/3.97/3.83 ERA/FIP/xFIP line over 44.2 big league innings, and was fairly effective against both lefties and righties.
- In January 2014, however, Ortiz broke his foot in a motorcycle accident, and the recovery took him most of the season. Although he did a little rehab work in the minors, it was basically a lost year for Ortiz.
- Ortiz throws a fastball in the low-90s, a slider, and a changeup.
- By my count, Ortiz has one option year left, so, if the Cubs keep him on the 40-man throughout the offseason, but then he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training, he can be sent to AAA Iowa.
- An ESPN piece on Ortiz from before 2013, featuring love from Justin Grimm and Geovany Soto.
- A few videos of Ortiz from 2013:
Ultimately, there’s no risk to grabbing Ortiz now while the Cubs had a spot. At worst, if they come to find later in the offseason that they need his 40-man spot, Ortiz can be waived, and maybe the Cubs can sneak him through. At best, Ortiz comes to Spring Training as a competitor for a bullpen job. Maybe he competes with Zac Rosscup and/or a non-roster invitee for the second lefty job behind Wesley Wright, or maybe the Cubs like Rosscup and Ortiz enough to roll the dice on non-tendering Wright, and then bring in a non-roster guy or two. Or maybe there’s a free agent the Cubs want to go after, and having Ortiz in the fold helps provide comfort in that pursuit.
Point being: bringing in Ortiz now gives the Cubs options without locking them in to anything. Good by me.