chicago cubs logo featureHaving been claimed and designated for assignment now twice in the same offseason by the Chicago Cubs, the puns involving lefty Edgar Olmos’s name are too easy. I will not use them. Strictly business.

Olmos, 25, was a waiver claim by the Cubs back in early December, and, as an interesting minor league depth arm, the Cubs tried to get him through waivers so they could keep him without taking up a 40-man roster spot. It didn’t work, as the Orioles snagged him shortly thereafter.

Then the Cubs grabbed Olmos again in late December, only to now DFA him again – and presumably try to get him through waivers again – as they, themselves, grab a separate lefty off of waivers from the Orioles.



That lefty is C.J. Riefenhauser, a 26-year-old reliever who had spent his entire career in the Rays’ organization until he was traded earlier this offseason to the Mariners as part of the big six-player Rays/Mariners trade back in November. Shortly thereafter, Riefenhauser was traded to the Orioles as part of the Mark Trumbo deal, when, get this, the Orioles were choosing between Riefenhauser and Olmos to be included in that deal. They chose the former, the Mariners waived the latter, the Cubs claimed him, and this intertwined story just kept intertwining. (More: when the O’s then claimed Olmos from the Cubs, the guy he replaced on their 40-man roster? Former Cub Junior Lake.)

The snake having eaten its tail, Riefenhauser is now a Cub. He was your prototypical up-and-down guy with the Rays the last two years – killer at AAA, wild and hittable in the bigs. There’s an obvious familiarity there with Joe Maddon, though, and maybe changing his pitch mix or sequencing or mechanics will help bring him along. There’s no question that Riefenhauser is talented.

Because he’s got options left, the Cubs wouldn’t have to get Riefenhauser through waivers to send him to the minors to start the season. They can just keep him on the 40-man, and option him. Still, I think there’s a fair chance the Cubs might try to sneak him through at some point, as they are now doing with Olmos.



Trying to get these kinds of fringy lefty arms into the system, without taking up a 40-man spot, is awfully attractive for a team like the Cubs, which doesn’t feature a ton of big-league-caliber pitching depth in the upper minors right now. Maybe Olmos gets through waivers this time, and the Cubs get to keep him without taking up a 40-man spot. Maybe they then pull off the same trick with Riefenhauser. Or maybe they keep him on the 40-man for now. Being bounced around at the back of various teams’ 40-man rosters can’t be easy for these guys, but it is something of a relative┬ácompliment, at least.

As it stands, Riefenhauser would report with pitchers to Mesa, Arizona in one week, and would participate in big league camp, trying to win a job in the Cubs’ bullpen. But we’ll see what happens procedurally before then.




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