It looked like Mark Leiter Jr. would be pitching for a different organization after he rejected his outright assignment, but he’s going to be back with the Cubs for spring training. Leiter was DFA’d a few weeks ago to clear a roster spot for Eric Hosmer, then the righty cleared waivers despite his strong performance out of the bullpen down the stretch. That’s understandable since teams knew he could elect free agency and be signed without the need to work out a trade.
And while Leiter may have had conversations with other orgs, he ended up coming back to the Cubs on a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp. The door to the arm barn is still pretty wide open and the general consensus is that the Cubs will still sign another guaranteed deal with an established pitcher, but a lot can happen over the next few weeks and months.
Mark Leiter Jr. has signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs and will go to major-league camp to compete for a bullpen job.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) February 2, 2023
Leiter was 2-7 with a 3.99 ERA and three saves in 35 games for the Cubs, though his numbers looked much better in a relief role. If we remove his four starts, he had a 2.87 ERA with 3.4 K/BB on the strength of a really nice split-change that allowed him to be very effective against lefties. His reverse splits were so strong, in fact, that he could be seen as a pseudo-southpaw for a unit that has only Brandon Hughes at this point.