Quite a 24 hours for fringe 40-man roster Chicago Cubs relievers.
Not only are some non-tender decisions pending on that front today, and not only did the Cubs add Dario Alvarez to the 40-man roster yesterday, but they’re also letting another reliever go.
If you check out the 40-man roster, you’ll see that righty Matt Carasiti, who was added last month, no longer appears on the roster. Per Arizona Phil and at least one report out of Japan, that’s because Carasiti, 26, has been given his release so that he can sign with the Yakult Swallows of the NPB. Typically, these deals involve the MLB team getting something akin to a transfer fee (Phil speculates it could be upwards of $1 million), and the player getting a chance to make much more money in NPB than he would as an up-and-down guy on the 40-man roster, mostly in the minor leagues, for the next few years.
For the Cubs, it means one fewer depth reliever available on the 40-man roster that they can shuttle back and forth between AAA Iowa and the middle of the bullpen in 2018. In that respect, I don’t love it, especially because Carasiti showed so much promise after being acquired from the Rockies in a swap for Zac Rosscup.
On the other hand, there are always relievers in that tier available on waivers (and in free agency (including minor league free agency, a la Dario Alvarez)) throughout the offseason, so the Cubs are probably gambling that they can pick up another Carasiti-like reliever at some point – and then it turns into a win-win-win. (And note: if the Cubs hadn’t added him to the 40-man roster last month, he would have departed as a minor league free agent anyway. So … savvy move.)
Meanwhile, the Cubs have robust needs in the bullpen at the big league level, and Major League free agency on that front has yet to really kick off. With tender decisions coming today, I suspect we’ll see the relief market start to clarify very soon.