The Chicago Cubs have added another lefty to the mix for Spring Training, and it’s 34-year-old Cuban Roenis Elias. It isn’t announced yet, but I’m going to assume this is a minor league deal with a non-roster Spring Training invite.
Mike Rodriguez was the first to report the news, and Elias subsequently indicated it himself on Twitter:
Elias was a starting pitcher with the Mariners when he first came up to the big leagues, eventually transitioning to the bullpen after a trade to the Red Sox. He dealt with injury issues, was traded back to the Mariners, then traded to the Nationals, then the pandemic season happened, and then he tore his UCL.
All told, Elias only really started to come back just a bit this past season with the Mariners (again), and now he’s pitching in the Dominican Republic, interestingly, as a starting pitcher. There, he’s started seven games, thrown 39.0 innings, allowing just 4 earned runs, striking out 38 and walking just 10. It’s not a huge sample, but it was enough to get him a look from the Cubs.
Overall for his career, Elias has posted a 3.96 ERA over 395.2 innings (just about league average by ERA-), and a 4.26 FIP (about 8% worse than league average). He’s been a perfectly useful arm to have when healthy, and if he’s now showing a strong ability to swing in and out of a starting job, that’s definitely a guy you’d love to have available as depth at Triple-A Iowa. And obviously if he shows that, post-surgery, he’s gotten back to where he was at his best in his mid-20s, then hey, he might get a look in any case.
Among Bryan’s quick thoughts: