Cubs Reportedly Release RP Junichi Tazawa

The Cubs picked up former Red Sox relief standout Junichi Tazawa this winter on a minor league deal in the hopes that he’d recapture his old form. He did exactly that, allowing no runs on just two hits with nine strikeouts over 5.2 innings. Despite mighty struggles by at least two other veteran relievers, the strong spring from Tazawa apparently wasn’t enough.

The transaction hasn’t been reported by the Cubs or any beat writers, but MLB insider Chris Cotillo tweeted Saturday morning that Tazawa had been released.

This is at least a little surprising, especially since Joe Maddon’s comments about needing to make a few more tweaks to the bullpen. The manager specifically noted that certain players were really performing well, which seemed to indicate a path for Tazawa to make the roster over someone like Brian Duensing.

Now it’s possible that this is just a procedural move, a way for the Cubs to work out a new deal with Tazawa and avoid the $100,000 retention bonus they’d otherwise owe him. While I hope that’s the case for the sake of the bullpen, the Cubs making moves to avoid such a pittance seems strange. Although rostering Tazawa means they’ll be paying him the MLB minimum and would also likely be eating another guaranteed salary.

We should learn more soon.

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