The Cubs have designated veteran reliever Brian Duensing for assignment. This removes the 36-year old from the 40-man roster, but his $3.5M salary is guaranteed and unlikely to attract interest on the waiver wire, so once he clears the Cubs will have the choice of sending him to Iowa or granting him his release. Given the Cubs already have plenty of left-handed depth in Des Moines, and there is the potential that they could save a little money if Duensing is signed to the Major League minimum by another team (this cost would be paid by his new team and the remainder of his $3.5M by he Cubs), I would expect Duensing to be let go. One possible scenario remains that if the Cubs have identified a correctable flaw, the Cubs could ask Duensing to stick around Mesa in EXST to work in the Pitch Lab.
The team has already filled his roster spot by signing 29-year old lefty Tim Collins. The 5'7" Collins was a fan favorite and effective reliever for four seasons (2011-2014) with Kansas City before a series of injuries which resulted in a pair of Tommy John surgeries kept him off the mound for most of the 2015-2017 seasons. He returned to pitch with middling success over 68 combined innings between AAA and in the Majors for the Nationals organization last year before signing with Minnesota this offseason. Collins has always posted high strikeout and walk rates as a professional and that continued this spring for the Twins. Still just 29, he struck out 14.7 batters per 9 innings but also walked hitters at a rate of 3.7 per 9 before being released on Friday. The Cubs have assigned him to Iowa, where he will bring a dimension of swing-and-miss that fellow AAA lefties Kyle Ryan and Randy Rosario do not possess. It is possible the Cubs will release one of these players once Xavier Cedeno recovers from his wrist injury.
In Minor League roster news, the Cubs have released 9 players across various levels of the organization. The most notable names are former 40-man roster member Jose Rosario and 2018 Iowa infielders Chesny Young and Ryan Court. Rosario was a hard throwing, but oft-injured right-hander that intrigued with a high-90s fastball and power curve combo that earned him a roster spot back in 2016. But further injury and then a case of the yips upon his initial return never allowed him to regain his previous form. The team had retained him as a Minor League free agent this past offseason but apparently didn't see enough improvement or a future for him. Heading into the spring I predicted roster room for just one of Court and Young to return to Iowa, but with Ian Happ getting sent down yesterday, who will presumably continue to see time in the infield, there just wasn't the need for either to return.
Also getting let go were a couple of nice stories from the 2017 draft. Austin Filiere was an 8th rounder out of M.I.T. that showed some flashes of power and patience, but struggled mightily as a defender. The other high profile name was outfielder Chris Singleton. The 19th rounder was never considered a serious prospect, but his mother was a victim in the massacre at a church shooting in Charleston back in 2015. The next day, Singleton came to prominence at a gathering on the Charleston Southern field where he forgave the shooter, stating “love is stronger than hate.”
The other players to be let go were AAA veterans LHP Mike Zagurski, RHP Carlos Ramirez and OF Evan Marzilli who were all signed to a Minor League deals this offseason but failed to make the Iowa club, as well as 2017 29th round pick RHP Jake Steffens.
I'll try to update this post if further moves are made. There are some rumors the Cubs are continuing to look for additional OF and C depth.