As they always, always, always do this time of year, the Chicago Cubs today grabbed an intriguing arm off of the waiver wire: today’s edition is lefty Jerry Vasto from the Royals.
A victim of the 40-man roster crunch that looms ahead of setting rosters for the Rule 5 Draft, Vasto actually spent most of 2018 at AAA with the Rockies, pitching well (3.16 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 27.7% K rate, 11.3% BB rate) at a tough place to pitch, before getting a cup of coffee at the end of the year with the Rockies and Royals.
The 26-year-old came to the Royals in an August trade for catcher Drew Butera, which more or less gives you a sense of his perceived value. He’s been a career reliever after being a 24th round pick in 2014, and, while he has put up solid numbers in the minor leagues, he doesn’t have the numbers or pedigree you’d expect from much more than an October/November waiver claim – which, hey, he is!
My gut says the Cubs like something very particular about Vasto as a guy they can shuffle up and down from AAA Iowa next year. You’ve gotta have guys like that, and the Cubs did a very good job targeting those types last year in particular.
As is always the case, it’s possible the Cubs will try to slip Vasto through waivers at some point later this offseason so they can outright him to AAA Iowa. The upside there is that you get to keep him for 2019, but he doesn’t take up a 40-man roster spot until you actually call him up.
Unofficially, the Cubs 40-man roster now stands at 35.