Cubs DFA Duensing as roster shuffle continues

Brian Duensng

Brian Duensng

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.


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  • Looks like you will need to remove your Ryan Court keyboard shortcut, Michael. I can probably count on one hand the number of times he did NOT appear in one of your MiLB recaps last year.

    Obviously Ryan's age (almost 31) worked against him, but who do you see as Iowa's starting SS (and Cub SS fill-in if Javy goes down for any length of time this year)?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Short will be the starting SS. Adames and Evans will likely split time at 3B and both are capable at SS. Giambrone will start at 2B and likely get some time in the OF as well. Happ will undoubtedly get some time at both 2B and 3B.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Whatever happened to Chesney Young? Did he just fade to black? I must have missed something... I thought he played a little short if I’m recollecting properly.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Chesny Young was a good fielding 2B that was capable of moving around the rest of the IF and OF to play respectable defense, but his arm limited him at some spots, and he lacked ideal range for SS/CF as well.

    At the plate he made easy contact with solid plate discipline but was limited by a lack of strength. His offense essentially boiled down to ground balls up the middle and line drives over the second baseman's head. That's it.

    John was always a bit of a fan because of the ease with which Young put the barrel on the ball, but I never considered him anything more than a very long shot. His slugging percentage never came close to .400 after his first season in the low minors and kept dropping as he moved up. I think I was making comments as far back as when he was in A ball that once scouting reports caught up to him and team's positioned their middle infielders appropriately and started playing their CF and RF shallow his average would drop.

    He did manage to hit .303 with Tennessee in 2016, but despite a couple of hot months where he hit above .300 in AAA, he ultimately only managed very hollow .256/.311/.311 and .269/.315/.304 slash lines in his two seasons with Iowa. Those SLG numbers are frankly atrocious for the PCL. Between defensive positioning and veteran pitchers likely exploiting his limited plan of attack it just never came around for him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Ok. Thanks for the info. I do remember that he didn’t have much power. Wasn’t sure of his overall range. For some reason I thought he was still around. Didn’t remember him being gone.

  • Right after I just ranted about why the heck he’s still on the team. This move is long overdue and I’m just glad he didn’t break camp with the big club. Look at the stuff the guy simply doesn’t have the stuff to get out big league hitters. He has to be too fine with his command and this guy just hasn’t shown me that he can maintain strong command over large samples

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    There was no reason to make the move sooner. His contract was guaranteed and in the event other guys got hurt (and there has certainly been enough scares with multiple relievers this ST) they may have needed him.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I agree once you consider the teams lack of activity in the offseason it makes sense to at least invite him to camp. For me at least I took theos end of the season press conference as the team not being content and having an active offseason. At the time I was saying release Duensing around the end of last season he’s not gonna rebound I fully expected an active offseason. I thought they’d address the OF and bullpen by adding new pieces and obviously we know how that turned out. Personally I respect Theo and this front office but I’m in the camp that’s frustrated by the timing of this sudden restriction of spending. I hope I’m wrong and guys turn things around but I’m skeptical this team had clear and obvious needs. I personally think given the timing of where they are in this contention window that moves had to be made this offseason and regardless of what anyone says I’m gonna be disappointed in the ricketts if they come up just short. The best owners don’t restrict their organizations like this when the team is at their peak and they need funding the most. I get they’re spending a lot of money but you can argue the window on this starting staff is closing this is absolutely not the time to put in such heavy restrictions sign Kimbrel even this pen and OF isn’t good enough to win championships

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I was definitely surprised by the quiet offseason. I was not expecting big spending in UFA but I was expecting the team to be active in the trade market.

    The two things I expected for sure were a quality, consistent hitter (not necessarily a superstar) and a viable late inning lefty. Happ was the primary piece I expected them to use to acquire one of those. They picked up neither, and instead ended up bargain hunting on Descalso and Cedeno to fill those roles.

    Definitely frustrating.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    With all of Theo's talk about "exit interviews," my sense was that the conversations included expectations from both sides for the coming season. Management decisions were made - Maddon getting more involved, Davis fired - based on those conversations, but at some point expectations had to be put out there for players, too. I certainly hope someone discussed Happ's lack of contact and excessive strikeouts, for example, so that his demotion to AAA wasn't a total surprise. So, I didn't expect major activity but I got the sense that the FOs attitude was that a better team had better show up for 2019. Maybe I totally misread it, but I like the decisions on both Happ and Duensing.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    And I don’t mean to criticize just to criticize I want the team to do well as much as anyone. I’m thankful for everything this regime has accomplished here they’ve changed the culture around this team. But just because I’m a fan doesn’t mean I can stand by and defend an ownership group that in my eyes is putting business before money. Let’s just say I don’t believe the Yankees or Red Sox ownership groups would utilize financial restrictions at a critical point of their contention windows. I get we’re not those teams but the cubs are still one of the biggest brands and while it’s their right to put business over results as a fan base we don’t have to like it even if we acknowledge that the team is as well run as they’ve ever been throughout Cubs history.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    *business before championships

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I'm wondering why we apparently weren't in the discussion, when Miami made Christian Yelich available last year; is what Milwaukee gave up something we weren't going to be able to match or beat?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    The Cubs system did not have the pieces required. Most of the Cubs (limited) number of high-end prospects were teenagers with little to no track record. Miami did not receive a huge haul for Yelich, but what they did get were guys further along in their development with less risk associated to them than guys like Ademan/Amaya/Albertos who were the best pieces the Cubs had to offer beyond Alzolay last offseason.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It also should be noted, that the whatever fans and the national media may think about Kyle Schwarber and his availability in trades over the years, all indications are that this FO absolutely loves him and they have never seriously considered moving him. And Yelich's best position is the same one Schwarber occupies.

    It is possible the Cubs could have built a deal around Happ, I suppose, but it is also possible the Marlins knew they were in a complete tear down and did not want the centerpiece to be a guy who already had his service clock started.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    That totally makes sense, and I guess it's even possible (which is just my speculation) that there was an added element, where Yelich wanted to go somewhere he would play everyday; while Maddon typically applies an outfield rotation, one that includes Heyward for the foreseeable future.......
    Thanks Michael!

  • Cubs just signed Tim Collins whose taking Duensings spot. It’s funny I just saw him released and I told myself I take him over Duensing in a second better overall arm

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He’s had a couple TJ surgeries, so he’s basically more depth/flyer than an actual replacement to Duensing even though he takes his 40 man spot. I thought I heard they assigned Collins to AAA.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Good point I actually read about that later. Doubt he’s the same quality pitcher that he was before the surgeries looks like the teams gonna need to make a trade for relief help

  • Good thing the Bears beat the Chargers 24-6 today.

    Duensing has to go—that was a no brainer.

    I would really like Maples and Webster to hold down the last spots. I like that they can miss bats with some serious helium.

  • watch Nico make the club to see if he can handle 2nd, then trade Russell. If he can't we still have Addison

  • Bote is over .400 this spring in his first full season opportunity. If they continue to play Z and sit Bote I will not be happy. Z just looks old and is not taking any kind of swing. Add him to Heyward and the pitcher, one third of the lineup is weak.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Hey judging a veteran on his spring training? Zo knows what he needs to do to get ready. HE will be fine.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    Both will play.

    Bote will at least play against all/most lefties and Maddon will likely get him in there against righties who he matches up well against (probably pitchers that like to work the bottom of the zone, but hard to say at this point if the offseason adjustments Bote made will open up more possibilities).

    They will want to give Zo frequent rest, like they did last year, but he is going to continue to rotate at 2B and RF. He not only offers pretty consistent OBP but he also is one of the few proven contact hitters this team has and there are matchups where that is a big asset.

  • Thanks for your excellent 2017 season, Duensing, but it was time for the Cubs to move on.

  • Sandy Leon and Rene Rivera are now FA's .

  • I'm not disappointed that the front office didn't do more, yet anyway. The big free agents are overpaid with long commitments and the less than would have cost playing time for our young upside core. Even tho Happ won't be going north, he is still power hitting switch hitter with speed and versatility. Anyway we will see what happens. Patience is a virtue.

  • There's an outstanding article at The Athletic today about changes the Cubs have made this winter. A summary, with a link to the original, is posted at Bleacher Nation. Basically,the piece details how new rules are in place to add missing structure as well as policy changes to make Joe, Theo and Jed more accessible to players. There's a lot there, including input from a bunch of players on the needed changes.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I read that also Cliff & you’re right, it’s an excellent piece. After reading it, I’m really looking forward to this season and seeing what this young core can accomplish. I believe it’s going to be a great year for our Cubs

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