He mysteriously popped up on the Cubs’ 40-man roster yesterday without any kind of transaction log activity to accompany it, but I can now confirm that, yes, the Cubs have signed 28-year-old lefty Dario Alvarez.
Alvarez was a minor league free agent after the Rangers elected not to place him on their 40-man roster at the end of the season (like the Cubs did with Matt Carasiti). Given his previous prospect pedigree and dominant minor league numbers, Alvarez figured to be a highly sought-after free agent, and sure enough, it required a Major League deal to land him.
What that means, effectively (and financially), is that Alvarez is now on the Cubs’ 40-man roster like a prospect they called up from their own system. The only difference is that he’s got only one minor league option year left. So long as the Cubs are willing to use a 40-man roster spot on him, though, they can stash him at AAA Iowa until he’s needed in the bullpen.
We’ll dig in a little more on what Alvarez brings to the table soon, but the short version is that he was a big-time prospect with the Mets back in 2014, when they converted him to a reliever at Low-A … and he was so good that he wound up reaching the big leagues later that year. He had a traditional development year in 2015 at AA and AAA with good numbers, but struggled in 2016 and the Mets decided to let him go mid-year. He was absurdly good in a short time with the Braves, who parlayed that into a trade, together with Lucas Harrell, for an actual prospect in Travis Demeritte.
When Alvarez was traded to the Rangers by the Braves in mid-2016, Jeff Sullivan was wondering if they’d just picked up a “relief ace.” The potential is unquestionably there for the lefty, but like so many AAA-level relievers with killer stuff, he doesn’t command it consistently. Alvarez was ultimately DFA’d by the Rangers in September, and that’s why he became a free agent at the end of the year.
UPDATE: The Cubs have now announced the signing:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 1, 2017