Reunion fizzles out as Cubs release Arrieta

August 12th, 2021

CHICAGO -- will forever have a place in Cubs history as an overpowering arm that helped carry the organization out of a rebuild and to World Series glory. The team simply could not overlook his ongoing struggles this year.

Prior to Thursday's game, the Cubs cut ties with one of their franchise icons, placing Arrieta on unconditional release waivers as part of a slew of moves. The decision came a day after the veteran allowed eight runs in four innings to the Brewers.

"One of the things we did talk about last night," Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said on Thursday morning, "is nothing that happened on the mound last night or the other nights in any way diminishes his role in club history.

"I think when you look back, I think there's a really good argument to say he's one of the more influential people in the history of this franchise."

That is unquestionably true.

Across the 2014-16 seasons, Arrieta went 50-19 with a 2.42 ERA in 89 starts. That included a 2.53 ERA in 25 games in 2014, when the Cubs were starting to emerge from a rebuild, and then a dominant 22-win 2015 that featured a 1.77 ERA and ended with a National League Cy Young Award. The World Series title arrived the following year.

This year, the Cubs brought the 35-year-old Arrieta back on a one-year, $6 million pact, hoping to help him rediscover some of that prior form with familiar faces. He went 5-11 with a 6.88 ERA prior to his release. That included an 8.95 ERA and a 1.065 opponents' OPS since April 30.

After Wednesday night's postgame media session -- which ended with him saying, "I've got nothing for you, man," when asked why this reunion had not worked according to plan -- Arrieta sat down with Hoyer and manager David Ross and learned of his release.

Ross, who caught plenty of Arrieta starts across the 2015-16 seasons, including one of the right-hander's no-hitters, would not delve into the details of the discussion.

"It was a simple conversation," Ross said.

The manager said he plans to focus more on Arrieta's contributions to the Cubs in the big picture, rather than on their final meeting at Wrigley Field ahead of the pitcher's release.

"You hate that one on so many levels for me," Ross said. "He's a friend, and I've got so much to be thankful for that he's given me. So, yeah, it stinks. I try to forget stuff like last night.

"Looking up at his numbers on the board, what he's done for this organization, how consistent he's been with the time I was on his team in '15 and '16, those are the things that I'm holding on to."

Contreras placed on injured list
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras sustained a right knee sprain during pregame blocking drills recently, leading the club to place the two-time All-Star on the 10-day IL on Thursday morning.

"It's definitely not something that's serious," said Hoyer, who did not offer a timeline for return.. "But it's something that doesn't make a lot of sense to play with and risk anything."

Entering Thursday's action, the 29-year-old Contreras led the Major Leagues with 793 innings caught. The catcher was hitting .226 with 17 homers, 40 RBIs and a .750 OPS.

Worth noting

• With Contreras on the shelf, the Cubs activated veteran catcher Austin Romine (left wrist injury) from the 60-day IL. That means Romine and his brother, infielder Andrew Romine, are both on Chicago's active roster.

"They've never gotten to play together," Ross said. "So, one of my priorities here coming up soon will be to get them into the lineup, hopefully together, in a game. ... There will definitely be a smile on my face when I get to write that in, for sure."

• The release of Arrieta put a temporary hold on the Cubs' plan to field a six-man rotation. Expect Chicago to return to that approach after righty Keegan Thompson is deemed ready to return from Triple-A Iowa.

"I don't want to give an exact date," Hoyer said. "But obviously he's working down there, getting stretched out and he'll be back."

• The Cubs also selected the contract of reliever Ryan Meisinger on Thursday. The righty has posted a 0.69 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 13 innings in his last 11 games for Triple-A Iowa.

• Lefty Kyle Ryan was designated for assignment on Thursday to clear a 40-man roster spot for Meisinger.


"The reaction to that is words I can't say. Yeah, tell them to come sit next to me in the dugout and see how that feels." -- Ross, on some fans thinking losing to get a better Draft pick is the right approach