The Cubs have released right-hander Rowan Wick, per Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register (Twitter link). Wick was already removed from the Cubs’ roster earlier this year so their 40-man remains full.
Wick, 30, once was a solid back-end reliever for the Cubs but has had a rough season here in 2023. From 2019 to 2021, he made 72 appearances for Chicago with a 3.18 earned run average. He struck out 26.8% of opponents while walking 11.5% and kept the ball on the ground at a 44.1% clip. He racked up 11 saves and 12 holds in that time.
Things moved in the wrong direction a bit last year. His ERA ticked up to 4.22 as his strikeout rate dropped to 23.5%, while adding another nine saves and four more holds. The club decided to tender him a contract, with the two sides avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a $1.55MM salary. Wick didn’t crack the club’s Opening Day roster out of Spring Training and was outrighted at the end of March. Since he has over three years of major league service time, he could have rejected that assignment and elected free agency, though doing so would have meant leaving that money on the table.
He reported to Iowa, surely hoping to work his way back to the majors, but it has not gone according to plan at all. He has an ERA of 8.60 this year through 30 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. His 24.1% strikeout rate is strong but he’s walked 13.1% of batters faced. A tiny 49.5% strand rate is probably making that ERA look worse than it actually is, though he’s also allowed nine home runs, as 30% of fly balls he’s allowed have left the yard this year.
The righty will now head to the open market in search of his next opportunity. Although he’s clearly not had ideal results this year, he’s not too far removed from being a quality leverage guy at the major league level. There would be little harm in bringing him aboard on a minor league deal to see if he can get back on track. If he is able to earn his way back into a roster spot, the Cubs would remain on the hook for what’s left of his salary this year, with a signing club only responsible for the prorated league minimum for any time on the roster. He also still has an option remaining, allowing him to potentially provide a club with some roster flexibility.