According to Sahadev Sharma, the Cubs have outrighted infielder Jared Young and relievers Jeremiah Estrada and Nick Burdi to clear three spots on the 40-man roster. The Burdi move is something we’d noted when reviewing the team’s arbitration-eligible players and Young’s removal is something that had been speculated late in the season when younger prospects were coming up. The Estrada decision is a little disappointing if only because there was a time when he looked like a potential closer.
Unfortunately, the hard-throwing righty almost completely wiped out the value from his big fastball because he couldn’t find the zone enough. Over 39.1 total innings between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa, Estrada walked 38 batters against 56 strikeouts. He had 12 free passes with 13 Ks in just under 11 innings with the big club, making him unfit for high-leverage situations.
Burdi made just three appearances for the Cubs before an emergency appendectomy shut him down, removing yet another hard thrower from the bullpen. He also suffered from a lack of control, something that has been evident at times throughout his career. Burdi has logged only 15.1 MLB innings and has flashed tremendous stuff, but Jed Hoyer has a lot more work to do on his bullpen this winter.
Young was one of the best hitters in the system this season and he looked amazing right out of the chute when he got his second big league stint in late June. Then reality set in. After collecting four hits — including a homer and two triples — in his first three games, Young tallied just two singles in his next 30 plate appearances. He went back down and raked again at Iowa before getting a late-season cup of coffee that resulted in two more hits over eight PAs across two weeks.
He’s hit well in the minors and the power finally started to show up last season, but Young turned 28 back in July and doesn’t have a ton of projection left at this point. It feels like he’s too good to remain in Triple-A but doesn’t offer enough pop to hold down a corner infield spot for a team that really needs to add more.
It’s possible for all three players to return to the organization, but it’s also possible they all become free agents by November 6. Burdi has accrued enough service time and Young has been outrighted previously, so both can elect free agency. Estrada has been in the minors long enough that he will be declared a minor-league free agent on Monday unless he signs a successor contract prior to that. Burdi and Young can likewise sign successor contracts to stick around.