It’s a bit of a sad moment.
After a season derailed primarily by a shoulder injury, and after the velocity he lost never came all the way back, the Chicago Cubs have finally decided to move on from reliever Neil Ramirez. Given what he was for the team in 2014 – a revelation – I can only imagine how hard it was to move on at this time from a guy who everyone knows has so much talent.
But, without any minor league options left, with a crowded bullpen, and with questions about when the full effectiveness would return (if ever), the Cubs are letting Ramirez go.
I put it that way because it’s very hard to see Ramirez, for all the reasons there discussed, actually clearing waivers and remaining in the organization. Some rebuilding team will take a chance on him, and here’s hoping he has tremendous success.
The need to make this kind of tough decision was precipitated by last night’s Jason Heyward injury, but the reality of the situation is that Ramirez’s roster spot, as the eighth man in a bullpen that hasn’t needed eight arms all season, was already tenuous.
So, today, when the Cubs needed to bring Matt Szczur back to help cover the outfield a bit in the wake of Heyward’s injury, they had to decide between losing a guy like Ramirez, or losing their third catcher, Tim Federowicz. Given that it has felt like time to go back to seven relievers for a while now, given the ages and health situations of the Cubs’ other catchers, I can understand the decision, even if it’s a little hard to accept.
As we discussed earlier in the week, with no options available on Szczur or Federowicz available, the Cubs were going to have to risk losing someone no matter what. That someone is Ramirez, and now we’ll see what happens. The Cubs will have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Ramirez. If he happened to clear waivers, they could outright him to AAA Iowa. I don’t expect it to go that way, though.
As for Szczur, he’s back after recovering from a hamstring injury – that was extremely fast for even a minor hamstring injury – and hopefully he won’t have lost any of his rhythm at the plate. He looked great before the injury. It would be understandable if his timing is a bit off, though, since he didn’t really get a chance to face much pitching during his one-game rehab stint at Tennessee.