NEW YORK -- The Mets lost a promising young pitcher on Thursday when the Cubs claimed lefty reliever Jack Leathersich off waivers. The Mets had exposed him to waivers in an attempt to remove him from their 40-man roster in advance of Friday, the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
"I wanna thank the Mets organization and the fans for the past few years. I will always be thankful for the opportunity they gave me!!" Leathersich wrote on Twitter. "I am beyond excited to be joining the Cubs organization. Can't wait to be a part of this historic franchise!!!"
Leathersich, 25, made his Major League debut this season, posting a 2.31 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. But he threw 57 pitches in his first game back with Triple-A Las Vegas in June, landing on the disabled list shortly thereafter. A month later, Leathersich underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.
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That made Leathersich, who will miss much of next season recovering from surgery, expendable for a Mets team that craves 40-man roster space. The Mets need to add several players to their roster by Friday in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, including No. 2 prospect Brandon Nimmo, No. 12 prospect Wuilmer Becerra, No. 16 prospect Robert Gsellman and No. 19 prospect Matt Bowman.
Before injuring his elbow, Leathersich ranked among the Minor Leagues' premier strikeout artists. The former fifth-round Draft pick whiffed 15.4 batters per nine innings in 2014, despite an average fastball velocity in the low- to mid-90s. The Mets viewed him as a potential answer to the lefty specialist problem that has dogged their bullpen throughout the past few years, though Leathersich would have been little help to them in '16. Acquiring a left-handed reliever such as Jerry Blevins, who also pitched for them in '15, is on the Mets' offseason agenda.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.