The Cubs announced a series of moves Tuesday, placing catcher Welington Castillo on the 15-day disabled list and designating right-handed reliever Jose Veras for assignment. Correspondingly, the team has added catcher Eli Whiteside and reliever Hector Rondon to the 25-man roster.
RHP Jose Veras was designated for assignment. C Welington Castillo was placed on the 15-day DL (retro 6/2) with left rib cage inflammation.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 3, 2014
The Cubs signed the 33-year-old Veras back in December to a one-year, $4 million dollar deal that contained a 2015 option worth $5.5 million (it will almost certainly be declined). The hope was for him to be a reliable force at the back of their bullpen, leaving open the possibility to deal him at July's trade deadline. Instead, Veras has produced an 8.10 ERA (6.22 FIP) and 1.18 K/BB in just over 13 innings pitched. He has also spent time on the DL this season with an oblique strain.
Chicago is hoping to find a suitor to take Veras and his salary off their hands, though that seems unlikely. In 62.2 innings last season, he posted a 3.02 ERA, 1.4 WAR, and 2.73 K/BB with 21 saves for the Astros and Tigers.
Castillo, the Cubs's starting catcher, suffered a rib cage injury on Sunday. He felt pain following a swing in his first at-bat and was taken out of the game. Castillo had a breakout season in Chicago last year, hitting .274/.349/.397 with a 104 OPS+, .331 wOBA, and 4.5 WAR. While his defense has still been strong this year, his offense has not been up to par. He is currently batting just .242/.287/.385 with an 83 wRC+ and .299 wOBA.
John Baker should step in as Castillo's replacement, while Whiteside will likely fill in as his backup. The 34-year-old Whiteside last played in the majors with the Giants in 2012. He is a career .215/.273/.335 hitter in the majors.
Rondon, who was activated off the paternity list on Tuesday, has been the Cubs' best reliever this season, posting a 1.59 ERA, 1.92 FIP, 0.7 WAR, and a 25-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 innings. Rondon, 26, will return having been named the club's closer.
The Cubs are off to a disastrous start this season, though expectations weren't high to begin with. At 20-34, they have the worst record in baseball and are already 13 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central. The Cubs figure to be sellers this summer, and appear to be willing to deal away key players such as Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.
Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald was the first to report both the Veras and Castillo news via twitter.