The Cubs have officially selected the contract of Caleb Kilian while making a number of other roster moves to accommodate his arrival and prepare for today’s doubleheader against the Cardinals. Mark Leiter Jr. was optioned to Triple-A and Conner Menez was designated for assignment, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Anderson Espinoza was also brought aboard to serve as the 27th man for today’s twin bill.
The news of Kilian’s promotion first came across the wire yesterday. His performance will carry more consequence to Cubs’ fans than a normal prospect because of his status as the trade return for Kris Bryant, the one-time face-of-the-franchise. Whether or not it makes sense to put that burden on Kilian, the optics of Kilian’s progress are likely to serve as a touch point for judging the effectiveness of President of Baseball Ops Jed Hoyer’s rebuilding efforts. He’s not the only one, but because Kilian was one of only two pitching prospects returned in the deals for Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Yu Darvish, and Javier Baez, his importance among the group of acquired prospects is somewhat bloated.
Leiter Jr., 31, has been up and down this season as both a starter and reliever. He has been a tad generous with free passes with a 9-to-16 walk-to-strikeout ratio over 17 1/3 innings in the bigs. Though a 4.53 FIP suggests he can be a serviceable arm, the bottom-line results have not been there, as he has racked up a 6.23 ERA.
Menez, 27, was designated for assignment to clear a space on the 40-man roster. He made just one appearance for the Cubs, tossing a scoreless inning. The southpaw has logged 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A, however, with a 2.08 ERA. Claimed off waivers from the Giants this past December, Menez will again be exposed to open waivers.
Espinoza, meanwhile, made his Major League debut just a couple of days ago, tossing four innings against the Brewers, giving up two earned runs on two hits and three walks while striking out six.