Cubs Roster Moves: Hosmer Deal Official, Leiter Designated for Assignment

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Cubs Roster Moves: Hosmer Deal Official, Leiter Designated for Assignment

Chicago Cubs

Had to get this one in before the Cubs Convention, right? I wonder if it means Eric Hosmer will be arriving today. That doesn’t MATTER, mind you, but it would be kinda funny if Hosmer is announced at the Opening Ceremonies as today’s major move.

Anyway, today the Cubs made the Eric Hosmer signing officially official, which is not really news. We knew that was coming. What we didn’t know was who would get bounced from the 40-man roster to make room, and – at least initially – it is a mild surprise to me. Mark Leiter Jr. has been designated for assignment.

That means Leiter is now off the 40-man roster, and the Cubs now have a week to waive, trade, or release him. I am going to assume the Cubs will either try to trade Leiter for a little bit of value, or will waive him and then hope he clears and accepts an assignment to Triple-A Iowa. He has the right to elect free agency if outrighted, though, and I could see him wanting to take that opportunity.

It’s a surprise to me, even as I know the Cubs are loaded with quality right-handed relief options, and I know that Leiter was a reclamation project just last year. But he was a really good one!

Leiter, 31, started out with the Cubs as a fill-in starting pitcher, and it was immediately apparent to me and many others that he could really cook in short outings, but once his pitch count started to top 30 and/or he was seeing guys a second time, the struggles came. He had the look of a possibly very good reliever. Sure enough, once he was fully converted to the bullpen and the pitch mix changed, the guy was posting a sub-3 ERA, with a strikeout rate that pushed to 27.7% (8.8% BB). He was simply good.

The sample was small, admittedly, but I also just liked the way he looked. I was relatively confident that he was going to survive the 40-man roster crunch. But nope.

If you’re looking for reasons it was Leiter who was the next man out, I think the biggest is probably his lack of minor league options. If Leiter didn’t make the Cubs’ eight-man bullpen on Opening Day – which he might not have, given how crowded it is – he would have to hit waivers anyway. So this may have been inevitable.

You might also suspect there is already a taker out there for Leiter in a minor trade, and the Cubs might know it. We’ll see.

You might ALSO suspect that the Cubs are finally getting close to adding another reliever in free agency – we know it’s coming eventually – so that bullpen pinch was going to get tighter soon anyway.

OK, I’ve talked myself into being less surprised about this than I was. The Cubs simply have a ton of good relief options right now, and they can’t keep them all. Here’s hoping more is coming, and here’s hoping the Cubs don’t just lose Leiter for nothing.

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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.