Getty Images

Cubs drop Justin Wilson from NLCS roster

1 Comment

The Cubs only made one change to their NLCS roster on Saturday, removing left-handed reliever Justin Wilson for right-hander Hector Rondon. The change doesn’t appear to be dependent on the southpaw’s postseason track record — he closed out a Game 4 loss with a scoreless ninth inning last Wednesday — but on his abysmal performance during the regular season.

Wilson, 30, started the year strong with the Tigers. He recorded 13 saves with a 2.68 ERA in 40 1/3 innings and was dealt to the Cubs at the deadline for Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes and a player to be named later. Following the trade, however, he immediately began to tank, finishing the year with a 5.09 ERA, 9.7 BB/9 and 12.7 SO/9 through 17 2/3 innings.

That, more than anything, made Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon wary of using the lefty in the upcoming Championship Series. With Jose Quintana working on one day of rest and fellow reliever Wade Davis maxed out after a 2 1/3-inning outing on Thursday, the Cubs are expected to go to the bullpen early and often as they look for an advantage over the Dodgers. In Wilson’s absence, they’ll turn to right-hander Hector Rondon, who exited the regular season with a 4.24 ERA and made seven postseason appearances for the club in 2016, earning one win and one hold with eight hits, three runs and five strikeouts over six innings.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

AP Photo
10 Comments

Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

*

Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.