Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Cubs Pick Up Pitcher from Blue Jays, DFA Alfonso Rivas


The Cubs have claimed left-handed pitcher Anthony Kay off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday. To make room for the newly acquired lefty, the Cubs have DFA’d left-handed hitting first baseman and outfielder Alfonso Rivas.

Kay, 27, has pitched in parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays, getting first shot in the big leagues back in 2019. Overall, the left-handed pitcher has appeared in 28 games at the major league level, making seven starts for Toronto. Kay has not been able to gain much traction in the show, posting a 5.48 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 70.2 innings. In 2022, Kay only made one relief outing for the Blue Jays, allowing one run in two innings, against the New York Yankees early in April.

The lefty is a former first-round pick of the New York Mets, taken with the 31st overall (compensatory pick) in 2016. Kay did not pitch in the minors that year and in October 2016, he underwent Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss the entire 2017 minor league season. Kay finally pitched in the Mets organization in 2018, when he recorded a 4.26 ERA in 122.2 innings, making 23 starts in A-Ball.

In 2019, Kay had a breakout season, getting off to a strong start at Double-A. He had a 1.49 ERA in 12 starts before getting promoted up to Triple-A. Kay was named to the 2019 All-Star Futures Game in mid-July and then a couple weeks later he was traded from the Mets along with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Blue Jays for starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. Kay finished the 2019 season making seven more starts at Triple-A in the Blue Jays system, posting a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings. Kay made his MLB debut on Sept. 7, 2019, starting against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing two runs in 5.2 innings. He made a second start against the Yankees and had one final appearance out of the bullpen against the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2020, Kay had 13 relief outings, but struggled with a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings. He made five starts and six relief appearances for the Blue Jays in 2021, but once again had below average results with a 5.61 ERA in 33.2 innings. During the 2022 season, Kay tossed 21.1 innings in the minors, missing most of the year because of an injury.

So, the Cubs like something in Kay, who features a mid-90s fastball and a slider that he throws about one-third of the time. There’s also the chance the Cubs eventually try to push Kay through waivers, hoping to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, while keeping him in the organization. The Cubs do need to clear more room on the 40-man with the incoming moves of Tucker Barmhart and Drew Smyly still not official.

As for Alfonso Rivas, it sucks. A left-handed hitter, who appeared to possibly be a guy, but ultimately looked overmatched against MLB pitching in 2022. In 2021-22, Rivas played in 119 games, slashed .247/.331/.322, with four home runs. He walked 33 times and struck out 103 times. Rivas could come back to the Cubs if he doesn’t get claimed off waivers.

But the other part to the Rivas DFA is that it shows the Cubs have no issue losing him and clears the way even more for first base prospect Matt Mervis to battle for a spot on the Opening Day roster in spring training.

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