Which assignment has Chicago Cubs designated to Anthony Kay

Left-hander Anthony Kay was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Friday to make room on the 40-man roster for first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini, whose previously reported two-year, $14MM contract is now official. Given that the 27-year-old Kay was just acquired off waivers from the Blue Jays on December 23, his time in the organization may not be very long.

After being selected by the Mets with the No. 31 overall pick in 2016, Kay was traded from New York to Toronto as part of the Marcus Stroman deal. He played parts in four Major League seasons with the Jays. He has performed poorly in each, recording a 5.48 ERA with respectable strikeout rates of 23.6% but excessive walk rates of 11.6% over that period.

Home runs have been a problem for him, as he has allowed 1.27 long balls per nine innings, but he has also struggled with a bloated.340 average on balls in play, which suggests at least a modicum of bad luck. This seems particularly relevant given that Kay’s career numbers show an average exit velocity of 87.5 mph and a hard-hit percentage of 34.8%, both comfortably above the league average over the past few years.

Intriguingly, Kay’s biggest league opponents to this date have all been fellow lefties. In 108 career plate appearances, Kay has been pounded by same-handed opponents, who have a hitting line of.319/.398/638 against him, while right-handed batters have hit him at a rate of.251/.352/.390. However, if Anthony Kay could shut down lefties as so many other southpaws can, he may still mature into a useful bullpen option. The right-handers’ line-up is still troubling, especially the OBP element.

Over the previous two seasons, Kay’s fastball has consistently produced above-average spin and has averaged more than 94 mph. Despite these characteristics, opponents have nevertheless managed to hit.301/.409/.526 against Kay’s fastball throughout his career. His curveball has produced much better outcomes for him (.186/.239/.326), which may have contributed to the Cubs’ initial interest in him.

Anthony Kay still has one minor league option year left, and given that he was previously a reasonably promising pitching prospect, it’s likely that another team will try to sign him off the waiver wire. He will have a week with the Cubs to negotiate a deal or place him on the outright waiver. If he is unclaimed, he will stay with the organization and probably report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.

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