The Cubs announced Monday that the left-hander Sean Newcomb has been designated for assignment. His place on the list will go to his left-handed compatriot Eric Stout, whose contract was selected over Triple-A Iowa. Stout will make his first major league appearance since 2018 if he appears in a game.
Chicago acquired Newcomb from the Braves in April, sending a veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez back to Atlanta in the process. It was a cheap rebound flyer for the North Siders, but the move didn’t pan out. Newcomb was only able to make three appearances before spraining his left ankle and missing three weeks. He returned to the active roster yesterday, but the Yankees attacked him for five runs on six hits in a single inning of work. Following that tough outing, the Cubs decided to move on, joining the Braves in singling him out for assignment this season.
It’s been a struggling few seasons for Newcomb, who was also hit hard in three outings with Atlanta in April. He posted just a 4.73 ERA on 32 1/3 frames last year, largely negating a 28.7% quality strikeout rate while walking with an unacceptable 18% batting rate confronted. The former first-round pick had also been hit hard in four starts during the shortened 2020 season, so he hasn’t found a sustained streak of MLB success since 2019.
Nonetheless, Newcomb caught the Cubs’ attention due to his early career form. He threw 68 1/3 innings 3.16 ERA three years ago, showing much better control and inducing grounders on almost half of the batted balls he allowed. While his strike throwing has become particularly erratic in recent years, Newcomb continues to throw into the mid-’90s and has drawn praise from prospect evaluators for his breaking tricks.
Newcomb is out of minor league option years, so the Cubs had to either keep him in the majors or drop him from the 40-man roster. Now that they’ve chosen this last course of action, they’ll have a week to either process it again or try to get it through waivers. Newcomb is making $900,000 this season, certainly not an exorbitant sum but a bit more than the league’s minimum wage.
Stout is a Chicago-area native who is in line for his first MLB action in four years. His previous top-level experience consists of just three games with the 2018 Royals. A product of Butler University, he spent five seasons in Triple-A. Stout boasts a modest 4.93 ERA over that span, but he sports a 3.94 mark in 29 2/3 frames with Iowa this year.
It’s been an atypical season for Stout, who was a contact ground control artist for much of his early pro career. Over the past two seasons, however, he has seen a dramatic increase in his strikeouts and walks. Those trends hit new heights this year, as he whipped up an incredible 36.6% of hitters in Iowa, but also gave out free passes to a clip of nearly 17%. It’s something of a similar profile to Newcomb, but Stout still has a pair of remaining options and can move on and off the active roster.