The Chicago Cubs entered the MLB offseason with a clear mission: bolster their bullpen, which had struggled in the previous year due to a lack of depth and injuries. Overuse of available players had taken its toll, and the front office aimed to avoid a similar situation in 2024 by adding high-profile arms.
Their efforts paid off with two significant moves. First, they acquired Yency Almonte in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then, they secured the services of former Houston Astros elite reliever, Hector Neris, on a one-year deal. These acquisitions aimed to provide star power and depth to the bullpen.
Cubs officially sign RHP Hector Neris to a one year contract with a club option for 2025. They DFA RHP Michael Rucker to make room on the 40 man roster.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) February 1, 2024
However, with every addition to the roster comes the challenge of freeing up space. In this case, the Cubs had to designate promising reliever Michael Rucker for assignment, as reported by Bruce Levine of 670 the Score.
Rucker’s journey with the Cubs began when he was selected in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Throughout his minor league career, he alternated between starting and relief roles. In 2018, he focused solely on starting, achieving an impressive ERA of 3.73 across 26 Double-A starts.
However, his role shifted back to full-time relief until he made his Major League debut in 2021. In 2022, Rucker appeared in 41 games, showcasing his career-best ERA of 3.95 and an ERA+ of 106 over 54 2/3 innings. Despite his success, he still spent time in the minors.
The challenges continued in the following season as his ERA rose to 4.91 during 35 appearances. Now, the 29-year-old’s future with the Cubs remains uncertain. If no other team claims him, he might still contribute to Chicago’s bullpen in 2024. However, it’s likely that he’ll begin his journey once again in the minor leagues.