Chicago Cubs non-tender former closer Hector Rondon

(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

With a raise coming, the Chicago Cubs chose to non-tender Hector Rondon. This will make him a free agent as the Cubs now will have an extra opening in the bullpen.

In a move that surprised very few, the Chicago Cubs non-tendered Hector Rondon. He was projected to earn $6.2MM by MLBTR. This was a figure the Cubs weren’t comfortable with, but also were unable to find a suitable trade partner for Rondon. After suffering through injuries the past couple of seasons, it might be best for him to get a fresh start elsewhere.

Since Aroldis Chapman came over in the trade in 2016, Rondon has never been the same. Once a Rule 5 pick from the Indians, Rondon became quite the closer for the Cubs, saving 67 of 81 games. But it was in 2016 that things began to go awry, and the Cubs decided it was their one weakness. Rondon welcomed Chapman, saying he would do whatever was best for the team. Little did he know he might have been setting himself up for this day.

Losing the trust of your manager

After losing the confidence of manager Joe Maddon, Rondon went from a late-inning guy for the Cubs to a middle-relief role. After seeing his ERA at a career low of 1.67 in 2015, it’s been on the rise ever since. Rondon lost his ability to throw strikes, then followed that with an inability to keep the ball in the yard. After allowing just 12 home runs in his first three seasons, he gave up 18 the last two seasons. Add that to the 20 walks he allowed (the most since his rookie season) and things were going south for Rondon.

The Cubs had the luxury of bringing along Rondon as a Rule 5 pick in 2013. The Cubs went 66-96 that season and were able to pitch him in games that weren’t going to hurt his confidence. For the Cubs, they merely needed to keep him on the roster and have the chance to work with him the following season. They were able to do that, and eventually, he became the team’s closer in 2014.

Injuries may have played a role

In 2015 he saved 30 games and was a crucial part of the bullpen. After triceps issues and a sore elbow, his luck has just run out with the Cubs. You have to remember, Rondon had Tommy John surgery with the Indians. These arm issues might have been another concern to go along with the poor performances. For a Rule 5 pick, the Cubs got their value out of him and more.

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Wherever the road takes him, we wish him well. Rondon came from out of nowhere to be a successful reliever for the Cubs. And while the stint with the Cubs might have been short, it was an impressive one that culminated with the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Happy trails, Hector Rondon.