5 uncertain futures - 2. Michael Rucker
Moving on to relief options, Michael Rucker could undoubtedly be the odd man out if the Cubs land a back end of the bullpen guy such as Andrew Chafin or Matt Moore. He lived to see another day after the front office chose to DFA Mark Leiter Jr., but the clock is certainly ticking. In 2022, he recorded a 3.95 ERA. Not a terrible mark by any stretch, but simply due to the depth of the Cubs' pitching right now, you don't have to force yourself to hang on to anyone you could replace with an upgrade.
Where matters get a little more complicated than just pulling the cord, Rucker still has five years of affordable team control. If he has a breakout season, you will make a poor decision to let him go. Therefore, he's just as much of a trade candidate as he is one to be DFA. If the Cubs add a reliever, we may instead see the team sever ties with Mastrobuoni while Rucker starts the year in Iowa, given that he still has two minor-league options remaining. Of course, Mastrobuoni has options, which is another reason why both players currently have question marks next to their names. Mastrobuoni, on the other hand, is more blocked than Rucker, given the depth of infield pieces at the Cubs' disposal.
With any solid production on the mound, Rucker's trade value gets a significant boost, as we saw with Scott Effross last year, who netted the Cubs Hayden Wesneski. If everything goes perfectly, Rucker and McKinstry become at least the start of a trade package to help the team meet their needs at the trade deadline.