And the process of clearing up 40-man roster spots begins.
It’s a process that will continue over the coming weeks as the Chicago Cubs look to open up space for new signings and prospects to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, and I’ll have a comprehensive take on the 40-man situation soon.
In the meantime, the Cubs have opened up one of those 40-man spots by waiving lefty Chris Rusin, who was immediately claimed by the Rockies. The move to waive Rusin should be unsurprising if you paid attention to the Cubs’ rotation and bullpen this year. When spots opened up for spot starts, Rusin – who was very much in the back-end mix last year – was not considered or even discussed publicly as an option. As the Cubs made plans for guys who could be in the back-end mix next year, again, Rusin was not discussed or considered. Given that he was a long-time starter in the organization who had reached the big leagues three years ago, that was a pretty bad sign. Rusin turns 28 next month, and will have to try and break in with the Rockies after a very disappointing 2014 season at AAA Iowa (4.31 ERA, 4.63 FIP over 146.1 innings).
Speaking of the Rockies … that’s an odd team to claim a flyball pitcher with no options left (especially when, as you’ll recall, they weren’t willing to claim Jacob Turner earlier this year – they preferred Rusin to Turner?). The Rockies had waiver priority over everyone but the Diamondbacks, so Rusin didn’t get far up the chain. I wonder if Rusin won’t actually last long with the Rockies – this time of year, guys get claimed, are held for a week or two while the team sees what else happens (and/or while it negotiates a plan to waive and then re-sign the guy to a minor league deal if it can get him through waivers at a later time). Either way, best of luck to Rusin, who simply ran into a back-end-rotation crunch. The Cubs have a huge number of guys already in that role, and, with Rusin out of options next year, it made sense to move on.
The 40-man was full at the time of the move, so it now stands at 39. It’s actually a bit higher than that, with three guys on the 60-day DL – James McDonald, Justin Ruggiano, and Ryan Sweeney – that will have to be activated before the offseason begins in earnest. McDonald will be let go, but the Cubs will likely want to keep Ruggiano and Sweeney around. So you could almost think of the 40-man currently standing at 41.