The Cubs’ signing of Eric Hosmer as a free agent has been known for a couple of weeks now; after the Red Sox released him December 22, the Cubs were reported to have signed him to a deal which would cost the club only the minimum salary of $720,000. The remainder of Hosmer’s $13 million contract for 2022 is being paid by the Padres, who traded him to the Red Sox last summer.
Today, the Cubs signed Hosmer to a one-year contract for that minimum salary. To make room for Hosmer on the 40-man roster, righthanded reliever Mark Leiter Jr. was designated for assignment.
This is a bit of a surprise. Leiter had a rough go of it as a starter in 2022, but once moved to the bullpen he seemed to find his niche. In 31 relief appearances last year, Leiter posted a 2.87 ERA and 1.031 WHIP, with 18 walks and 62 strikeouts in 53⅓ innings. Those are good numbers for any reliever.
This is a roster crunch issue, which is actually a good thing. It means the Cubs have a good number of good relief pitchers already and didn’t think Leiter would fit on the roster, at least for now. Perhaps he will clear waivers and the Cubs can keep him in the organization, but with those relief numbers, even though he’ll turn 32 in March, it would seem likely someone claims him.
As always, we await developments.