Even after a number of other lefty bullpen options went by the wayside for the Chicago Cubs this spring, an overall glut in the pen spelled doom for the team’s ability to carry lefty Caleb Smith on the 25-man roster out of Spring Training, which meant, as a Rule 5 pick, the Cubs were going to have to offer him back to the Yankees.
So they have, and the Yankees paid the cash to get him back.
The Cubs grabbed Smith from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft by way of a cash trade with the Brewers, which is to say that he cost a little more than your usual Rule 5 pick, but when you consider where things stood with the Cubs’ pitching depth back in early December, it was definitely a worthwhile risk. But when the team added starting depth at AAA, and – as I mentioned in the Miscellany today – Brian Duensing emerged as the team’s best LOOGY option in the pen, there wasn’t going to be a spot for Smith. Best of luck.
The Cubs made two other cuts today, assigning each of Jemile Weeks and Chris Dominguez to minor league camp (Wittenmyer). Both are veterans in on minor league deals, both are expected to serve as depth at AAA Iowa this year, and both are currently injured.
With today’s cuts, including Munenori Kawasaki earlier today, the Cubs’ spring roster stands at just 27. We’re almost there.
Two more to go, and your fringe candidates are: Matt Szczur, Tommy La Stella, Carlos Corporan, Brian Duensing, and the optionable relievers (who are totally “making the team,” and would be optioned only if absolutely necessary) like Carl Edwards Jr. and Justin Grimm. Corporan, the fourth catcher, is a sure thing for one of the two final cuts, absent an injury. The other is still most likely to come by way of a Matt Szczur trade. In other words, my best guess is that the bullpen is now set, and the final spot – as long expected – will come down to Szczur and La Stella.