Rea is latest potential starting pitcher to exit Cubs
In a normal offseason, the Cubs' decision to release pitcher Colin Rea would elicit little more than a shrug.
Not this year.
Already short of potential starters after trading Yu Darvish to the Padres last week and letting Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana hit the open market as free agents, losing a pitcher like Rea is definitely worth noting.
After signing a one-year, $702,500 contract last month to return to the Cubs this season, Rea was released from the deal so he can reportedly pursue an opportunity to pitch in Japan.
In 9 games (2 starts) with the Cubs last season, Rea was 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA.
Over three years with the Cubs, Marlins and Padres, the 30-year-old righty is 8-8 with a 4.79 ERA.
Rea was expected to compete for a spot at the back end of the Cubs' starting rotation in spring training.
As it stands now, Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies and Alec Mills are the Cubs' top three starters. Davies came over in the San Diego deal.
All three are similar -- right-handed pitchers who rely on deception more than power.
As he works to fill the final two spots in the rotation, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer is likely looking for a left-hander or righty with a bigger arm.
Hoyer has plenty of inexpensive options on the free-agent market, and bringing the veteran lefty Lester back is possible.
"I talked to (pitching coach) Tommy Hottovy a lot during this process," Hoyer said after trading Darvish. "I think we've had a lot of success with pitchers that can throw a bunch of pitches for strikes, can really control bat speed. From that standpoint, I think a guy like Davies will flourish with us.
"That said, you want to have different looks coming out of your bullpen for a reason, and I think you want to think about having different looks in your rotation as well. That's something we have to factor in, the sinker/changeup combo is really effective but we have to make sure that we throw different looks out of the rotation."