Cubs non-tender 3 players, including their former top pitching prospect
An already busy offseason continued Friday night for the Cubs.
The Cubs non-tendered 3 players on their 40-man roster —left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez, right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaíno and outfielder Rafael Ortega.
They came to terms with right-handed pitchers Rowan Wick and Adrian Sampson, avoiding arbitration. Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer were all tendered 2023 contracts. The four are arbitration eligible in 2023.
The Cubs tendered contracts to 31 players on the 40-man roster, the four arbitration-eligile players and 27 players who are not yet arbitration eligible. The Cubs 40-man roster sits at 37. Friday was the non-tender deadline across MLB and several teams parted ways with players from their 40-man rosters, adding to the free agent class.
The most surprising departure comes in the form of Marquez, who made his major league debut in 2020 and was a former top prospect of the Cubs. But injuries have plagued his career — he pitched in one game in 2020 and a bout with COVID-19 and injuries have prevented from pitching in 2021 and 2022. The lefty pitched to a 3.13 ERA across then-Single-A South Bend and then-High-A Myrtle Beach in 2019 and pitched at the Cubs alternate site in 2020 before debuting in the majors.
Vizcaíno was acquired from the Yankees in the Anthony Rizzo deal in 2021, he went 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and a .163 batting average against in 6 appearances with High-A South Bend in 2021. He started the 2022 season on the restricted list after failing to report and remained on the restricted list until he was non-tendered on Friday.
Ortega was one of the surprise stories of 2021, posting an .832 OPS and a .291 average in 103 games. He proved to be a capable bat against right-handed hitting in 2021, but struggled to replicate the numbers in 2022, hitting .241 with a .688 OPS in 118 games. His season ended when he broke his finger attempting to lay down a bunt against the Mets on September 13.
Marquez, Vizcaíno and Ortega all become free agents.
Wick pitched to a 4.22 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 64 games in 2022. He started the season strong, posting a 0.77 ERA across his first 11 appearances, but had an up-and-down rest of the season. He’ll return to the Cubs in 2023 and compete for a bullpen spot.
For the second-straight year, the 31-year-old Sampson was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs pitching staff. He posted a 2.80 ERA in 10 appearances for the Cubs in 2021 but was waived after the 2021 season. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league contract in spring and he started the year at Triple-A Iowa. He was selected for a game against the Dodgers on May 8, then designated for assignment two days later.
The Mariners claimed him, optioned him to Triple-A Tacoma, then designated him for assignment a week later without appearing for the big-league team. The Cubs signed him at the end of May, called him up in mid-June and he made the most of his second chance.
In 20 games, 19 starts, Sampson posted a 3.14 ERA in 103.1 innings, cementing a role in the Cubs rotation and putting himself in the conversation for a roster spot in 2023.
Happ will go through his final trip in the arbitration process. He and Hoerner are two of the top options for the Cubs to extend this offseason. This is Hoerner’s first trip through the arbitration process.
Like Hoerner, Madrigal is going through his first arbitration process. In his first year with the Cubs, he hit .249/.305/.282 in an injury-marred season. He was acquired from the White Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade.
Heuer, the second player in the Kimbrel deal, missed the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’s expected to return sometime in the middle of 2023.