Because it is the time of year for players to be coming up to join the big league team attendant to roster expansion, it’s also the time of year for other players to be pulled off the 40-man roster, and potentially lost to other clubs.
So it was for one of the three Cubs pitchers recently DFA’d to make room for September additions who weren’t already on the 40-man roster:
#Cubs roster moves:
RHP Luke Farrell was claimed off waivers by the Angels
LHP Rob Zastryzny cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa
RHP Cory Mazzoni cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 3, 2018
Farrell showed some compelling stuff at times in relief, but was not able to keep his four-seam velocity up and commanded well, and it seemed like he lost his slider after his first handful of relief appearances. He was doing a lot of bouncing back and forth between starting and relieving, though. Would have been nice to keep him, since there was evident talent.
Now, here’s the thing about guys who are removed from the 40-man roster at this time of year: many wind up becoming minor league free agents at the end of the season anyway after minor league roster decisions are made. In other words, even if Luke Farrell had not been claimed on waivers and had been outrighted like Rob Zastryzny and Cory Mazzoni, that doesn’t necessarily mean he would have been in the organization come next year.
The other reality that we’ve now seen every single year this front office has been in place is that soon after the season, as teams have to maneuver their 40-man rosters to accommodate new additions and the Rule 5 Draft, there are tons of interesting pitchers available on waivers (that’s how the Cubs got Farrell in the first place), and the Cubs take advantage. Moreover, the Cubs have been very aggressive in signing minor league free agents to better-than-typical contracts early in the offseason.
If the Cubs ultimately lose all three of these guys, there will be other fringe roster arms on whom the Cubs will take a shot for 2019. Oh, and thankfully, the flood of minor league arms is finally reaching the upper levels of the minors, so there will be roster/playing time crunches coming anyway.