With the team mired in one of its worst stretches in recent memory, the Chicago Cubs are now also dealing with the potential loss of pitcher Tony Barnette.
To this point, the Chicago Cubs have pieced together their bullpen, relying heavily upon the likes of guys like Steve Cishek, Kyle Ryan, Brad Brach and Brandon Kintzler. It stands to reason Joe Maddon might want to give these guys a blow here and there, but if that’s the case, he won’t spell any of them with Tony Barnette.
The Cubs placed the 35-year-old veteran on the restricted list this week to allow him to “figure some things out” with his family after the club passed him over for a potential promotion recently.
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"“He’s trying to figure out the next step,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re certainly willing to give him the time to do that. He’s a pro and a really good dude. He’s at that point in his career where he wants to think things over.”"
Barnette hasn’t been much of a factor at the big league level this year, making only two appearance spanning just 1 1/3 innings. But at Triple-A Iowa, he’s pitched extremely well – perhaps well enough to warrant consideration in Chicago.
In 13 appearances, Barnette carries a respectable 2.39 ERA and 2.97 FIP. His 12-to-2 strikeout to walk mark seems like it would appeal to the Cubs given their up and down performance this season, but, alas, that’s not the case – at least not right now.
Chicago is rolling with the likes of Cishek, Ryan, Kintzler, Brach, Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery, Randy Rosario, Dillon Maples and Craig Kimbrel in the pen heading into action Wednesday. As we’ve talked about ad nauseum, those left-handed options aren’t exactly a dominant bunch, but there’s plenty of right-handed depth for Maddon to turn to late in ballgames.
We’ll have to wait and see how this whole situation plays out – but for the time being, with Barnette on the restricted list, the Cubs’ 40-man roster sits at just 38 guys. With less than a month until the July 31 trade deadline, having that roster flexibility could be key, depending on how the rest of the month goes.
For now, though, the future of a guy the Chicago Cubs inked to a one-year deal with a team option for 2020 is very much up in the air. He’s nearing the finish line of his professional career and, at this point, it’s hard to know if he’ll ever take the ball for Chicago again.