In a roster move on Thursday afternoon, reliever Kyuji Fujikawa‘s $5.5 million option for next season was declined and the Chicago Cubs paid him a $500,000 buyout, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.
According to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs made a series of other roster moves on Wednesday, outrighting a trio of players, including Ryan Kalish, Chris Valaika and former touted-prospect Josh Vitters off the 40-man roster, assigning them to Triple-A Iowa. In another move, right-hander James McDonald, who saw very limited action in 2014, elected free agency.
Fyujikawa, 34, signed a two-year deal with the Cubs prior to the 2013 season, and in two years with Chicago, pitched to a 5.04 ERA spanning 27 appearances. In those appearances, which totaled 25 innings, the right-hander posted a 1.480 WHIP, averaging 11.2 SO/9 and 3.88 SO/BB. He made just 15 appearances with the team in 2014, while making another dozen appearances between the Cubs’ rookie-level, Class-A and Triple-A affiliates, during which he posted a sterling 0.77 ERA.
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Vitters, who prior to the 2008 season was ranked as the 43rd-best prospect in all of baseball, batted just .213/.268/.339 with Triple-A Iowa in 2014, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 38 runs in 112 games. The former first-round pick of the Cubs carries a .272/.320/.437 career batting line in the minor leagues, spanning eight seasons.
The Cubs signed McDonald to a one-year, $1 million deal prior to the 2014 season, but he never threw a pitch in 2014. Valaika appeared in games all across the infield for Chicago, totaling 44 games, and he filled defensive voids at all four infield positions at different points in the season, while posting a .231/.282/.339 line.
Kalish, 26, appeared in 57 games for the Cubs, swiping three bases while being caught twice. He also batted .248/.295/.347. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Iowa, slashing .251/.322/.404 across 87 games, hitting eight home runs and driving in 37.