Cubs News: Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. elects free agency

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Earlier this month, the Cubs designated Mark Leiter Jr. for assignment to clear a roster spot for veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer - and after being outrighted by the team, he's elected free agency - ending his brief stint on the North Side.

The 32-year-old right-hander was a pleasant surprise on the 2022 staff, doing a little bit of everything for manager David Ross. He made four starts, finished 11 games and made 35 appearances in total, working to a 3.99 ERA (103 ERA+), 1.138 WHIP and 9.7 K/9. But this winter, facing a roster crunch, Leiter Jr. wound up being the odd man out.

Between his age and the fact he was out of minor league options, it probably made the decision easier for Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins. Still, this was a guy who was remarkably effective as a reliever - and it's not hard to envision him latching on with another team on a minor league deal before spring training.

Cubs still have plenty of bullpen depth without Mark Leiter Jr.

Filling that jack-of-all-trades role in the 2023 bullpen shouldn't be too difficult for the Cubs. Keegan Thompson and Adbert Alzolay look like potential fits (it wouldn't be a shock to see both play huge roles out of the pen this year) - and you're going to have a very blurred line between the back of the rotation and the bullpen.

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You could see all sorts of younger arms factor into that space - not just Alzolay and Thompson, but Caleb Kilian, Hayden Wesneski, Jordan Wicks, Ryan Jensen and others. The sheer number of guys in the mix capable of filling the role Leiter Jr. occupied in 2022 made him the most expendable of the bunch, regardless of what he brought to the club.