The Cubs learned Tuesday that a potential complication to final roster decisions has been cleared up, with word that promising young pitcher Adbert Alzolay will have a fourth minor-league option this year.
The decision by an arbitrator on one of multiple grievances filed on behalf of players over unresolved issues from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season means that Alzolay can be sent to the minors to start the season without exposing him to waivers.
Alzolay, who is on the roster bubble after a shaky spring, otherwise almost certainly would have been kept on the opening roster if only to avoid the risk losing him to a waiver claim, possibly at the expense of a better-performing pitcher or even a position player.
A major-league source said the decision has not been made official by Major League Baseball or the players’ union, which issued a blanket “no comment” regarding any of its grievances related to 2020.
The news comes on the same day the Washington Post reported, by contrast, that Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde no longer has the fourth minor-league option the Nats believed he did, after an arbitrator ruled in his favor (based on service-time accrued last year).
The Cubs also had no comment on the Alzolay decision — which comes more than a month after the grievance was heard. But it’s hard to overstate the importance to teams of getting decisions quickly on all the related grievances.
“That piece of information is pretty critical for every team in baseball, not just the Cubs,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said last week.
Alzolay hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game since struggling against the Royals on March 13. He pitched once in a “B” game since, with better results.
“I hear about it, but I’m not into it,” Alzolay said after that March 13 outing when asked about the uncertainty over a fourth option. “I just leave that stuff to my agent.”
“I don’t like putting [those] things on my mind,” he added. “If I put that pressure on my mind that, “oh, my gosh, I’m going to get sent down,’ or this or that, that’s just going to distract me from my main focus, which is just to make the team and be in the big leagues.”