The Big Moment for Danny Hultzen, and Now the Questions About His Future with the Cubs

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The Big Moment for Danny Hultzen, and Now the Questions About His Future with the Cubs

Chicago Cubs

It was just about the only bright spot in yesterday’s loss, but it was a really, really bright spot: 2011 number 2 overall pick, one of the only first rounders that year not to make the majors, and a guy who was out of the game because of serious shoulder problems, finally made his big league debut.

Dude was amped up, but looked really in control and really good! He was sitting 92-93 mph with his fastball, but cranked it up to 94 mph by the end of his appearance. He got great action on his slider, and wound up striking out three batters in his inning of work:

I just love these moments that baseball gives us, and I want to enjoy it thoroughly before I get into the “baseball” of his situation, including this thorough Q&A from Jordan Bastian:

But let’s talk baseball here, because Hultzen – like Robel Garcia, for example – isn’t just a great story. He’s also a very talented baseball player, whose future needs to be considered in the context of his place with the Cubs.

Among the considerations with Hultzen now that he’s on the big league team, as we think ahead into the future:

  • Hultzen will have to stay on the 40-man roster all offseason now if the Cubs want to be guaranteed to keep him, which is not a small feat for an organization that (1) has so much reliever depth, and (2) figures to be active in free agency and in trades.
  • Hultzen could be DFA’d after the season in the hopes that the Cubs could get him through waivers and then outright him to Iowa, where they’d have to get him on a new minor league contract for next year. It could be done, but it’s also possible another big league team would take a chance on grabbing him on waivers – rebuilding clubs are very aggressive in the offseason in grabbing guys, figuring they can just try their own DFA/outright dance later on.
  • Hultzen does not have minor league options remaining. So, if he does stick (or if another team grabs him for their own 40-man), he will not be able to be optioned to the minors at the end of Spring Training; he either makes the team, or he’ll have to be put on waivers. That may actually help the Cubs if they try to outright him after the season – any claiming team would know they aren’t going to be able to option him either after Spring Training – but it’ll be a consideration going forward.
  • Can Hultzen realistically make an 8-man bullpen next year for the Cubs? Well, it’s possible. The stuff at AAA has been fantastic, and he looked legit yesterday. My question is whether he’ll make sense once the new reliever rules kick in: starting in 2020, pitchers will have to face at least three batters (or get to the end of the inning) whenever they enter the game. Hultzen’s stuff definitely looks like it plays better against lefties than righties, though I didn’t get a great look at his changeup yesterday, which would be his neutralizer against righties.
  • All I can say at this point is that it would be really nice to have him in the mix next Spring. Who knows what the offseason transaction wire will bring, but either way, the Cubs are going to have a whole lot of unproven but extremely interesting internal arms to consider in the Spring, and the more the merrier when it comes to that group.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.