Cubs add a former first-round pick to their bullpen mix
The Cubs continued their busy week by adding to their bullpen on Friday afternoon.
They claimed lefty reliever Anthony Kay off waivers from the Blue Jays. To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated first baseman Alfonso Rivas for assignment.
Kay pitched just 23.1 innings across the minor leagues and big leagues with Toronto in 2022 as he dealt with a left shoulder injury. In that time, he pitched to a 5.48 ERA in the minors with 23 strikeouts and had 3 strikeouts on 2 hits and a walk in 2 innings in the major leagues. He was designated for assignment by Toronto last week.
In 70.2 career innings in the big leagues, the former first-round pick has a 5.48 ERA, 1.627 WHIP and 77 strikeouts. Kay made 5 starts in 2021 with the Blue Jays and could provide depth as a starter but can pitch in relief, too.
Kay, along with Simeon Woods Richardson, was acquired by the Blue Jays for current Cub Marcus Stroman from the Mets in 2019.
His addition gives the Cubs another left-handed option in their bullpen — Brandon Hughes was the only lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Kay added a slider ahead of the 2021 season and, albeit a small sample size, used it 33.3% of the time in 2022, compared to 8% in 2021.
Rivas, 26, hit .235 in 101 games in 2022, struggling to hit for power, amassing just 10 extra-base hits and 25 RBI in 287 plate appearances.
Designating Rivas for assignment heightens the team’s need to address the first base position for 2023 — they could promote slugging prospect Matt Mervis and give him the job, or they could look to add a veteran to give Mervis more of a runaway and not press him into the majors immediately. Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer are some of the veteran options available in free agency.