The Cubs non-tendered catcher John Baker and left-handed reliever Wesley Wright on Tuesday, reducing the 40-man roster to 37. The Cubs did tender contracts to eight of the 10 arbitration eligible players, including right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, left-handed pitchers Felix Doubront and Travis Wood, catcher Welington Castillo, infielder Luis Valbuena, and outfielders Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano.
Overall, 30 players from the Cubs’ 40-man roster were tendered 2015 contracts. That includes the eight arbitration-eligible players listed and 22 players not yet eligible for arbitration. Wright and Baker are now free agents.
With Wright gone, the only left-handed pitchers on the Cubs’ 40-man roster are Doubront, Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Joseph Ortiz, Eric Jokisch, and Zac Rosscup. Besides Castillo, Rafael Lopez is the only other catcher on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.
MLBTradeRumors.com projects arbitration salaries, and estimated Wood could make $5.5 million in 2015; Arrieta $4.1 million; Castillo $2.1 million; Coghlan $1.4 million; Doubront $1.3 million; Ruggiano $2.5 million; Strop $2.4 million; and Valbuena $3.1 million.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa while left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright has been placed on the paternity leave list.
Parker, 28, has turned in a 0.77 ERA with Iowa while picking up eight saves. He’s walked none and struck out 15, good for an average of 11.6 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. Parker has a 0.69 WHIP, allowing just eight hits, while holding the opponent to a .190 batting average (8-for-42).
Parker, who wears uniform number 50, begins his second stint with the Cubs this season. He was recalled from Iowa, April 13, and made two relief appearances – allowing three runs in 1.2 innings – before he was optioned to Iowa, April 24.
In parts of three major league seasons since making his debut with the Cubs in 2012, Parker is 1-2 with one save and a 3.50 ERA (21 ER/54.0 IP) in 58 relief appearances. He has walked 20 and struck out 61, good for an average of 10.2 strikeouts per 9.0 innings.
Since he was selected by Chicago in the 16th round of the 2006 draft, Parker is 14-17 with 74 saves and a 2.91 ERA (115 ER/356.0 IP) in 269 career minor league contests, all in relief. He has walked 165, struck out 386 and allowed just 26 home runs.
Wright, 29, is 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA (6 ER/17.0 IP) in 18 relief appearances in his first season with the Cubs.
The Cubs now have a bonafide closer. On Friday, the Cubs announced they have signed right-hander Jose Veras to a one-year, $3.85 million contract with a club option for 2015. There is a $150,000 buyout for 2015.
The Cubs did not chose to keep free agent Kevin Gregg after he saved 33 games last season, taking over for Carlos Marmol, who was traded to the Dodgers, and Kyuji Fujikawa, who needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Veras, 33, combined to go 0-5 with 21 saves and a 3.02 ERA in 67 relief appearances between the Astros and Tigers last season. He struck out 60 and walked 22 over 62 2/3 innings, and compiled a .199 opponents batting average against. The right-hander began the season with Houston and posted a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves in 42 outings before he was traded to Detroit, where he made nine appearances and helped the Tigers reach the postseason.
In 2011, Veras ranked fifth in the National League with 27 holds in a career-high 79 appearances. He also was a member of the 2013 World Baseball Classic Dominican Republic club. Since the start of the 2011 season, he is tied for fifth in the Major Leagues with 218 appearances.
His contract with the Cubs includes incentives for an additional $750,000 based on games finished.
The Cubs’ bullpen is definitely stronger with Veras at the end. He joins lefty relievers James Russell, Wesley Wright and Zac Rosscup and right-handers Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Blake Parker, and Arodys Vizcaino.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs and left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright officially agreed to terms on one-year, $1.425 million contract. The deal was first reported Dec. 4, but the free agent pitcher needed to undergo a physical before it was finalized. Wright, 28, who was non-tendered by the Rays, is under team control for 2015.
The Cubs were looking for another left-hander to share the workload with reliever James Russell. Wright has combined to post a 3.28 ERA in 168 relief outings over the last three seasons. He split the 2013 season between the Astros and Rays, and was a combined 0-4 with nine holds and a 3.69 ERA in 70 relief appearances.
In 302 appearaces in all or part of six Major League seasons with the Astros (2008-13) and Rays (2013), Wright has posted a 10-15 record with 50 holds, two saves and a 4.37 ERA. In the last three seasons, Wright has walked 41 batters over 118 innings, an average of 3.1 walks per nine innings.
The Cubs are still in the market for a closer, and were reportedly talking to John Axford, who signed with the Indians on Monday. Other free agent relievers looking for a job include Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Gregg and Chris Perez. Gregg saved 33 games for the Cubs last season.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs added another left-handed reliever to the bullpen mix on Wednesday, signing free agent Wesley Wright to a one-year deal. Wright, 28, was non-tendered by the Rays on Monday. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 70 games for the Rays and Astros this past season, striking out 55 over 53 2/3 innings pitched.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the deal was believed to be $1.425 million for Wright. Major League sources confirmed the signing.
In his career, Wright has held left-handed hitters to a .231 average compared to .266 by right-handed batters.
Wright announced the signing himself by changing his Twitter profile @realweswright to say he’s now a relief pitcher for the Cubs.
Wright picked up his first career win on April 4, 2008, pitching in relief at Wrigley for the Astros. He entered the game with a man on first and two outs in the seventh, and the two teams tied at 2. He got Felix Pie to ground out and end the inning, and the Astros scored two in the eighth. Wright was the pitcher of record and picked up the win.
According to a story from that game, he planned on giving the game ball to his parents, who were expected in Houston for the home opener that year. It was special to get the first win at Wrigley Field. Growing up in Gosham, Ala., he watched Major League games on cable television. His father was a Braves fan but his brother, Derrick, watched the Cubs.
“You do what your older brother does,” Wright said at the time. “I was a big fan of Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg, Shawon Dunston, Sammy Sosa … all the guys that played here in the past.”
Needless to say, the young lefty, who was 23 at the time and pitching in his second career big league game, was excited.
“It was surreal for me to be out there on the mound and 30-some thousand people at Wrigley,” he said. “It was crazy. I wish my brother could have been here to share it with me because I know it would mean just as much to him.”
The Cubs were looking for bullpen help, and especially another left-hander to help southpaw James Russell, who ranked 10th in the National League in games (74). Chicago is still shopping for a closer to replace Kevin Gregg, who is a free agent.
— Carrie Muskat