Junichi Tazawa

Barnette, Tazawa, Gallardo, Machado, and Espinoza Throw at Riverview

Ricardo Verenzuela tripled, singled, scored two runs, and threw out a runner on the bases, and Carlos Morfa and Ervis Marchan drilled consecutive RBI singles to highlight a four-run 4th inning, leading the Cubs "B" team to a 5-1 victory over the Cubs "A"  team in Extended Spring Training intrasquad game action Thursday morning on Field #6 at the Riverview Baseball Complex on John Arguello Way in Mesa, AZ. 

The game was pre-planned as a five-inning contest. 

RHRP Tony Barnette (on Cubs MLB 10-day IL with right shoulder inflammation) hurled a 1-2-3 ten-pitch 2nd inning (K, P-3, F-8), and RHRP Junichi Tazawa tossed a scoreless 3rd (allowed a single, runner erased by a CS) for the "A" team. 

RHP Manuel Espinoza made his pro debut for the Cubs "A" team, allowing a run on one hit (a triple) with one strikeout in one inning of work. The 18-year old Mexican was signed by the Cubs in July 2017, but he did not pitch in 2018 while his signing was under investigation by MLB. (He signed the same day as fellow Mexican RHP Florencio Serrano Jr, whose contract was voided by MLB last June).   

Prior to the game on Field #6, three of the four youngest Cubs pitchers at EXST (Manuel Espinoza is the other one) threw "live" BP on Field #5 (two "innings" - 30 pitches each). 17-year old Venezuelan RHP Richard Gallardo (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the current ISP) got swings & misses with a 91-93 MPH FB and a plus-CV, and he also threw a couple of decent CH; 17-year old Venezuelan LHP Joel Machado was sitting 85-86 with his FB, but he had a solid CV and so-so CH that he was able to mix & match with his FB; and 18-year old 6'3 210 Dominican RHP Willy Cabrera's FB was impressive at 92-94 MPH (T-95) in addition to an 88-90 MPH CH and a sharp-breaking CV, but he had difficulty commanding his stuff (not too surprising considering he walked 50 in just 25.2 IP in the DSL in 2018!).

Here is the box score from the game:

Cubs Release Tazawa... But He Could Be Back

3/26 UPDATE 

The Cubs have indeed re-signed RHP Junichi Tazawa to a new (different) 2019 minor league contract. 

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3/23 ORIGINAL POST 

The Cubs released NRI RHRP Junichi Tazawa today, but that might not be the end of the Tazawa-Cubs connection.

Because Tazawa was a post-2018 Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signed a minor league contract more than ten days prior to MLB Opening Day (he was signed on January 26th), the CBA mandates that if the Cubs did not release Tazawa by today (five days prior to MLB Opening Day), the Cubs would have had to either add him to their MLB 40-man roster (and 25-man roster) by MLB Opening Day or else pay him a $100K retention bonus with a June 1st opt-out. 

So it's possible that the Cubs will re-sign Tazawa to a new (different) minor league contract without the automatic Article XX-B retention bonus and/or the June 1st opt-out (the Cubs actually did exactly this in 2016 with Shane Victorino, Manny Parra, and Munenori Kawasaki).