Welcome back. We barely noticed you were gone.
Just three days after the Cubs released right-handed reliever Junichi Tazawa, the Cubs today re-signed Tazawa on a minor league deal, per Jon Heyman. According to Mark Gonzales, it’s a minor-league deal that will pay him $900,000 if he makes the majors. Rather than go to Iowa, Tazawa will start the season in Extended Spring Training in Mesa.
The Cubs signed Tazawa this winter and expected him to compete for a spot in the bullpen. The 32-year-old veteran was coming off an awful one-year and two months stint with the Marlins, after which Miami released him. He did pitch better for the Angels last September.
The Cubs released Tazawa despite a strong showing in Spring Training. Tazawa pitched 5 2⁄3 innings over six appearances for the Cubs and allowed no runs and just two hits. He struck out nine and did not walk anyone. But when it became clear that there was no room for Tazawa on the Opening Day roster, the Cubs allowed him to look for a team that could offer him a better opportunity. When he didn’t find one, he agreed to return to the team where he will provide insurance for the bullpen in case of injuries.
Often, deals like these have some sort of opt-out clause where the Cubs will have to promote Tazawa to the majors by a certain date or release him, allowing him to look for a better opportunity. There aren’t any reports of that here, but it wouldn’t be surprising to find out later that that is the case.
In any case, a big welcome back to Tazawa and the Cubs organization. It’s never a bad idea to have as many healthy arms as possible for the bullpen.