In a move that comes as something of a surprise given their current roster situation, the Cubs claimed lefty Anthony Kay off waivers from the Blue Jays Friday. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, first baseman Alfonso Rivas has been designated for assignment. That latter move wasn’t a surprise in and of itself, but the Cubs still need to clear spots for Drew Smyly and Tucker Barnhart.
The #Cubs have claimed LHP Anthony Kay off waivers from Toronto.
1B Alfonso Rivas has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) December 23, 2022
Kay will turn 28 in March and has several stints in the majors with 70.2 total innings over 28 appearances, seven of which were starts. Armed with a mid-90s fastball, a slider, and a rarely-used curve, the southpaw has put up strong strikeout numbers with walk totals that leave a bit to be desired. The Cubs are light on lefty relievers, though, so they may see something in Kay’s performance that can be leveraged for improved results.
What I find more interesting here is that the Cubs seem to be clearing the path for Matt Mervis to be the everyday first baseman. That’s been presumed for a while now, but it’s not insignificant that they’d be willing to part with Rivas after also being unwilling to pony up for José Abreu. This could also further indicate their interest in Trey Mancini as a righty platoon option at first and DH.
Any other big league pickups the Cubs make will require subsequent procedural moves, and that’s in addition to the two spots noted earlier.