The Chicago Cubs cleared 3 spots from their 40-man roster on Friday night as the team announced that outfielder Rafael Ortega, LHP Brailyn Marquez, and RHP Alexander Vizcaino were non-tendered by the organization as the North Siders faced the deadline to tender contracts to players on their 40-man roster that did not have a guaranteed deal for the 2023 season.
In addition to the three non-tenders, the Cubs avoided arbitration with both RHP Adrian Sampson and RHP Rowan Wick as each signed a one-year deal with the team. Outfielder Ian Happ, shortstop Nico Hoerner, RHP Codi Heuer, and 2B Nick Madrigal have also been tendered contracts by the Cubs and will continue through the arbitration process.
Vizcaino was the secondary prospect in the Cubs' trade of Anthony Rizzo at the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline. Vizcaino's baseball future came into question in 2022 as he failed to report to the Cubs' facilities at any point during the season.
The Chicago Cubs non-tendered a once top-prospect on Friday night.
Marquez, at one point, was considered to be the Cubs' top pitching prospect. Marquez made his Major League debut for the Cubs during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season but has yet to pitch again since due to continuous shoulder injuries, Marquez did undergo shoulder surgery in July but there still is a question as to whether or not his playing career will be able to continue.
Ortega entered the 2022 season with the goal of emerging as an everyday centerfielder for the Cubs after the success that he had with the team during the second half of the 2021 season. Ortega proved to be inconsistent during the 2022 campaign as he had a slash line of .241/.331/.358/.688 in 371 plate appearances. With Cubs' president Jed Hoyer telling reporters during the General Manager meetings last week that the team's starting 2023 centerfielder will likely be an external candidate, the writing was on the wall for Ortega. The Cubs have identified recently non-tendered Cody Bellinger as an option for their centerfield vacancy next season.
With the Cubs' 40-man roster now at 37, the team does have some room to add a free agent or two without the need for a corresponding move. Though, in the weeks ahead, expect more moves as the team looks to create as much roster flexibility as possible.