The Braves released reliever Armando Rivero, a Rule 5 pick from the Cubs last December who never pitched a competitive inning in 2017 after straining his pitching shoulder during spring training.
Rivero, 29, cleared waivers in October and was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett, but last week he was released altogether. He spent the season on the disabled list and was transferred from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL in July when the Braves needed a 40-man roster spot.
Former Braves general manager John Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart had high hopes for Rivero after picking the Cuban strikeout machine in the Rule 5 draft at last year’s Winter Meetings. The right-hander posted an eye-popping 105 strikeouts with 35 walks in 67 2/3 innings in Triple-A in 2016, when Rivero had a 2.13 ERA in 43 appearances.
If he’d been activated from the DL at any point, he would’ve had to go on the Braves’ 25-man major league roster for at least 90 days or be offered back to the Cubs for $50,000. When he was removed from the 40-man roster last month and outrighted to Triple-A, it meant the Cubs declined to take him back.
The Braves already have one former Rule 5 pick in their bullpen -- Dan Winkler, who must be on the major league roster for the early part of the season to fulfill Rule 5 requirements after missing much of the past two seasons recovering from a second elbow surgery.
But that shouldn’t be an issue if Winkler pitches as did after his late-season return to the active roster in 2017, when he had an impressive 2.51 ERA and 0.907 WHIP in 16 appearances with 18 strikeouts and six walks in 14 1/3 innings.