Hey, there’s one of the long-awaited 40-man roster moves for the Chicago Cubs …
Oh, wait. This is actually just a new one! The Cubs are snagging lefty Anthony Kay off of waivers from the Blue Jays, and they’ve designated first baseman Alfonso Rivas for assignment to make room.
Kay’s name may sound vaguely familiar to you, and if so, it’s because he was one of the Mets pitching prospects traded to the Blue Jays back in 2019 for Marcus Stroman. Full circle!
The young lefty quickly got a big league shot with the Jays (he was a highly-regarded prospect at the time), struggled a bit, and seemingly has been in the process of converting to relief the last couple seasons. Last year, though, he missed a big chunk of time with an undisclosed injury, and the numbers were pretty rough in his brief time at Triple-A. I wonder if we’ll get more explanation on this, and why perhaps there is a reason to think that he could be more healthy this year, and thus more productive.
All told, Kay, now 27, has thrown 70.2 innings in the big leagues, posting a 5.48 ERA and 4.67 FIP. Not sure how much that tells us, though, because this has to be more of a scouting play. Per Statcast, Kay throws a mid-90s fastball with an excellent spin rate, so there’s that. He has started and relieved so much in recent years that I’m not entirely sure what role the Cubs envision for him, but gut says relief.
Per FanGraphs, Kay has one minor league option year remaining, so the Cubs wouldn’t HAVE to sneak him through waivers if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. But it’s possible they’ll still try to do it at some point this offseason, since – as I may have mentioned before – the Cubs do still need to open up at least two (Drew Smyly and Tucker Barnhart) 40-man roster spots soon-ish.
As for Alfonso Rivas, I think most were expecting this move eventually. The glove at first base is outstanding and there are flashes of enough discipline and line drive ability that you could maybe envision a platoon-level first baseman. But the lack of power is a problem at the position, and the extreeeme struggles against any kind of breaking pitch was an even bigger problem.
Rivas is just 26, and like I said, there are parts of his game to like in a depth role. The Cubs will have seven days to trade, release, or waive Rivas. My bet is they waive him, hope he clears waivers, and then they outright him to Iowa. That way, they get to keep him for the 2023 season on a minor league deal, essentially.
Positionally speaking, the Cubs are OK with losing Rivas presumably in part because they do expect to add another first baseman at some point this offseason. Matt Mervis may be the future there, but you do want a little depth, just in case, and Rivas wasn’t bad depth. So, is Trey Mancini on the way? Just thinking out loud.