The Rundown: Cubs Declince Option on Kyuji Fujikawa, Maddon Announcement Could Come Today

As news on the Joe Maddon front remained quiet Thursday (an announcement could come today), the Cubs performed some more roster maintenance.

RHP Kyuji Fujikawa did not have his 2015 option picked up and is now a free agent. RHP Carlos Villanueva became a free agent as well, putting the 40-man roster at 35.

The Fujikawa experiment was fairly disappointing. After amassing impressive numbers in Japan, Fujikawa signed a two-year deal with the Cubs before the 2013 season at the age of 32. He was signed soon after the failed Carlos Marmol/Dan Haren trade (good times) and it was thought Fujikawa could slot into the back of the Cubs’ bullpen.

But things didn’t work out very well. Not long into his Cubs career, he injured his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery. He returned this year and appeared in 15 games, finishing with a 4.85 ERA.

As for Villanueva, I enjoyed his time with the Cubs. He filled numerous roles, from spot starter to long reliever. Also, he got bonus points for rocking a sweet mustache at times. He only pitched 77.2 innings this year, and he was the forgotten man as the Cubs wanted to evaluate a number of younger pitchers who could fit into future plans.

AFL wrap-up

The Mesa Solar Sox beat the Scottsdale Scorpions 7-5 on Wednesday. Dan Vogelbach went 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. He also picked up a rare stolen base.

On Thursday, the Sox were on the wrong side of a 7-5 decision with the Scorpions. Outfielder Jacob Hannemann had a nice day at the dish, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. Zach Cates gave up four runs in an inning of relief.

The Fall Stars Game will take place tomorrow at 4 p.m. Central. It will be broadcast on MLB Network and Pitcher C.J. Edwards is part of the East squad.

Other notes

* Patrick Mooney takes a look at some of the free-agent options for the Cubs this offseason, assuming Joe Maddon is brought on board. Aside from the usual suspects (Jon Lester, James Shields, Russell Marin and second-tier starter options Justin Masterson and Jason Hammel), Mooney suggests Andrew Miller or Luke Gregerson could be targets for the bullpen. All of those names appeal to me. I don’t really see Hammel returning to the Cubs, however.

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