Cubs Release Justin Grimm

In a move foreshadowed by their willingness to go to the arbitration table with him, several reports are confirming that the Cubs have released Justin Grimm. The righty reliever’s struggles have been well documented and it was a surprise to many that the Cubs had tendered him a contract in the first place. But because salaries awarded through the arb process are not guaranteed, it made sense to hedge their bets

The only thing really surprising her is the timing of the move, coming as it does less than 15 days from the start of the season. Had they released him prior to Wednesday, the Cubs would have owed Grimm roughly $350,000 of his $2.2 million salary, but now that figure will be around $530,000. Perhaps that’s their way of giving him a parting gift of sorts, not that it softens the blow much.

More likely, the Cubs were giving him every opportunity possible to earn a spot. After allowing four runs on six hits (two homers) and four walkable in only four spring innings, however, it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.

Grimm was a devastating pitcher when he was on, blessed with a mid-90’s heater and a curveball that laughed at the laws of physics. When he wasn’t hitting his spots with the heater, however, he was getting hit hard. Even though the swinging-strike rates on the curve were in line with past years, Grimm’s ability to get through innings was hampered by a failure to properly locate and sequence his pitches.

Even with the erratic production, Grimm retained a great deal of value by having minor league options available. The Cubs could flex him back and forth as needed to keep roster spots open. But as with anything you bend and flex too often, Grimm lost his elasticity when his options ran out.

This could mean that Eddie Butler is in line for the 25-man roster, though he’s also out of options and hasn’t been the most reliable pitcher in the past. Butler doesn’t miss bats and has plenty of his own trouble finding the zone, but he does keep the ball in the yard and has value as a possible long man should the Cubs need that.

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