Today is something of a roster deadline for veterans on minor league contracts, because those types get a $100,000 retention bonus if they are not released by today and then are not going to be added to the 40-man roster by Opening Day.
So, in that respect, it’s not a shock to see some decent vets released today, but this is a guy who looked like he had a very good shot at winning a job in the Cubs’ bullpen:
If the Red Sox want to make an external relief addition, here's an option: Old friend Junichi Tazawa.
Tazawa was just released by the Cubs after a strong spring– 0 R, 2 H, 9 K in 5.2 innings.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) March 23, 2019
As Michael noted this week, for Tazawa, 32, to be back to his earlier-career top effectiveness, he probably needs to see that fastball get back near the mid-90s, and so far in the spring, he’s reportedly been in the 89-92 mph range.
Still, he’d been extremely effective, and with the bullpen in flux, it’s at least mildly surprising to see the Cubs cut Tazawa rather than pay the $100,000 retention bonus. Then again, you do see this pretty frequently among all teams this time of year, so perhaps the Cubs will still try to keep him around on a renegotiated deal – or perhaps they are going to pick someone else up from the cast-offs that are coming all around baseball this week.
Or, perhaps they just like the other young guys they have and did not want to dedicating AAA innings to Tazawa. We’ll see if there’s more movement on this front, or if it was just a simple evaluation of Tazawa this spring, and a decision that he was not going to make the team in the near-term.
On the bright side, this is probably further confirmation that the Cubs feel good about Pedro Strop’s health for Opening Day.
If you had to take a stab at the eight-man bullpen to open the season, based on the current spring roster, it would probably be:
Carl Edwards Jr.