Now that they've reportedly answered the catcher question via two-time Gold Glover Tucker Barnhart, one of the biggest remaining needs facing the Cubs is left-handed relief help. Friday's claim of left-hander Anthony Kay from Toronto was surely made knowing as much, hoping the former first-rounder can figure it out in Chicago.
Kay, 27, a former first-round pick of the New York Mets back in 2016, joined the Jays in the trade that sent current Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman to the Big Apple in 2019. He's always seemed to have the stuff (he ranked in the 84th percentile in fastball spin rate in 2022), but that's never translated to success at the big league level.
Cubs look to shore up the bullpen in Anthony Kay claim
Since making his big league debut in 2019, Kay has just 70 2/3 innings under his belt and they haven't gone all that well. He carries a 5.48 ERA and 4.67 FIP during that span, but this move fits perfectly in the Cubs' organizational belief in their pitching infrastructure.
Armed with a heater than averaged 94.5 MPH this year, Kay has the tools and now, it'll be on the Cubs to see if they can turn him into a legitimate lefty weapon out of the bullpen.
In a corresponding move, Chicago designated first baseman Alfonso Rivas for assignment. With Matt Mervis poised to seize the first base job next spring (not to mention the high likelihood the Cubs add another bat capable of playing the position at least on a part-time basis), Rivas looks to be the odd man out.
Maybe he'll make it through waivers or the team will be able to unload him via trade. After all, he's hit well at Triple-A (.816 OPS) - so it stands to reason there could be a team willing to give him enough plate appearances to see if can translate that success at the big league level.
As far as the Cubs are concerned, though, Kay is another 'stuff' arm to add to the mix. Now, it's up to the Pitch Lab to help him become effective on the mound, hopefully as a key piece in the team's bullpen puzzle.