The Cubs announced they’ve outrighted seven players off their 40-man roster. Designated hitter Franmil Reyes, infielder David Bote, outfielder Narciso Crook and pitchers Alec Mills, Steven Brault, Anderson Espinoza and Brad Wieck have all been let go.
Roster turnover is high on this date, five days after the World Series. This is when the injured list comes to an end until Spring Training, meaning all players on the 60-day IL have to be reinstated or else removed from the squad in some way. Also, the Rule 5 protection date is on November 15, now just five days away. Given those combined factors, many players are getting squeezed out.
Reyes, 27, is probably the most high-profile name on this list, given that he was a productive slugger from 2018 to 2021. However, 2022 was a dismal year for him, as he hit .213/.254/.350 for the Guardians and got designated for assignment in August. The Cubs picked him up and put him into 48 games, where his batting improved but was still below league average. Given that Reyes very rarely takes the field and is primarily a designated hitter, that kind of production doesn’t pass muster.
He could have been retained via arbitration, but MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a salary of $6MM. Instead, the Cubs will move on. Since Reyes has more than three years of MLB service time, he has the right to reject this assignment, which he has done.
Bote, 30 in April, debuted in 2018 and intrigued the Cubs enough that they gave him a five-year, $15MM extension. He’s hovered around league average at the plate, with his career batting line currently sitting at .231/.318/.393 for a wRC+ of 91. Despite that somewhat tepid production, he’s also provided defensive versatility, playing all four infield positions and some brief cameos in the outfield corners. He has the over three years of MLB service time necessary to reject an outright assignment, but not the five years necessary to reject while retaining his salary. Given that the Cubs owe him $4MM in 2023 and $5.5MM in 2024, along with a $1MM buyout on a $7MM club option for 2025, he is likely to accept his assignment and remain with the organization.
Crook, 27, was first selected to the roster in June, making his MLB debut by making nine plate appearances over four games. He spent the rest of the year in Triple-A, where he hit .260/.345/.492 for a wRC+ of 120. He is eligible to elect free agency based on his seven years of minor league experience, which he has done.
Mills, 31 later this month, has been in and out of the Cubs’ rotation over the past few seasons, managing to throw a no-hitter in 2020. Apart from that, the results have been pretty mediocre, as he has a career 4.95 ERA over 256 1/3 career innings. 2022 saw injuries limit him to just seven games and 17 2/3 innings. He’s eligible to elect free agency based on his three-plus years of MLB service time, which he has done.
Brault, 31 in April, spent the previous six seasons with the Pirates but was designated for assignment after 2021 and signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. Injuries limited him to just nine innings on the year. He’s eligible to elect free agency based on his three-plus years of MLB service time, which he has done.
Espinoza, 25 in March, was once considered one of the best pitching prospects in the sport. Baseball America ranked him the 19th best prospect in baseball in 2016. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to live up to the hype just yet, perhaps due to twice undergoing Tommy John surgery. He finally made it to the big leagues this year, posting a 5.40 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. That was actually better than his minor league performance this season, where he had a 7.55 ERA over 70 1/3 innings. He was eligible to elect free agency based on his seven-plus years of minor league experience, which he has done.
Wieck, 31, pitched in the four MLB seasons from 2018 to 2021 but began 2022 on the injured list. He required Tommy John surgery in July and is likely to miss the majority of the 2023 campaign. He is eligible to elect free agency based on having more than three years of MLB experience, which he has done.