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Michael Bowden Clears Waivers, Outrighted To Iowa

The Cubs retained the services of Michael Bowden. What does this mean, if anything, for the Cubs' bullpen going forward?


There's been no official announcement by the Cubs, but this appeared on the Pacific Coast League's transactions page Thursday (H/T: MLBTR):

Chicago Cubs sent Michael Bowden outright to Iowa Cubs.

So Bowden, who does have some talent but never really solidified his place in the major-league bullpen, remains in the organization; as pointed out by Tim Dierkes at MLBTR:

Having been outrighted before, Bowden had the right to elect free agency, but then his contract would have been terminated.

With the recent injury to Kyuji Fujikawa that will require Tommy John surgery, Fujikawa is likely headed to the 60-day disabled list, which would open a spot on the 40-man roster. It wouldn't surprise me if Bowden is added back at some point and returns to the big-league bullpen. The just-acquired Alex Burnett has options remaining, so if he doesn't show well in what appears to be a tryout of sorts, he could be optioned and Bowden return.

This is a small part of remaking the bullpen in the wake of Fujikawa's injury. Fujikawa was signed with what appeared to be the intention of making him the closer in 2014. That now obviously won't happen, and the Cubs are likely to say goodbye to Carlos Marmol after this year, even if they can't trade him.

Incidentally, there doesn't seem to be any indication that Fujikawa's injury was a pre-existing condition waiting to happen, said GM Jed Hoyer:

Hoyer said the Cubs had MRIs on Fujikawa after his initial forearm strain in April, and that there was no reason to believe this could happen.

"They did not show the ligament being involved," Hoyer said. "The acuteness of the injury indicates it did happen on a pitch."

So who closes in 2014? James Russell is the most consistent reliever in the pen and if Dale Sveum could ever get his head around the idea that Russell isn't a LOOGY and that a lefthander can be a closer, maybe he'd be the guy. That would mean, though, that you'd want to find another lefty or two to pitch before the ninth inning.

The Cubs don't seem to have any other obvious in-house choices to close next year. Rafael Dolis has a great arm, but has Marmol-like command issues at times. Same for Hector Rondon. Kevin Gregg is likely to be an ex-Cub for the second time by the time the trading deadline hits.

What would you do for next year?