Report: Yankees release former Cubs OF Rafael Ortega

Report: Yankees release former Cubs OF Rafael Ortega originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After spending the past two seasons with the Cubs, outfielder Rafael Ortega will be looking to catch on with a new team just days before Opening Day as the journeyman has been released by the New York Yankees, according to a report from Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors.

Ortega, who turns 32 in May, made his MLB debut all the way back in 2012 as a 21-year-old with the Colorado Rockies.

After a brief two games of big-league experience, Ortega wouldn’t make it back to the show until 2016 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, playing 66 games alongside a .232/.283/.292 offensive line, good for just a 60 OPS+.

Ortega saw limited big-league playing time with the Marlins and Braves in 2018 and 2019 respectively before finding a consistent role on the Cubs in 2021, particularly following the trades of Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

In 296 at-bats across 103 games, Ortega compiled well above league-average offensive numbers, driving in 33 runs alongside 27 extra-base hits and 12 stolen bases.

The Cubs held on to Ortega in 2022, where the outfielder played in a career-high 118 games and saw noticeable regression from his success the prior season.

Although Ortega improved his walk rate and still managed to turn in 14 doubles and 12 stolen bases, the veteran struggled to adjust over the course of the season.

Ortega’s OPS dropped from an above-average .823 in 2021 to just .688 in 2022, with a 95 OPS+ indicating offensive performance that was slightly below-average.

In spring training with the Yankees, Ortega was just 6-for-37 with 12 strikeouts, although three of his six hits were home runs.

The veteran outfielder will now look to grab what would likely be a minor-league opportunity with another team, providing depth as an option for a fourth outfielder with experience of hitting well in the big leagues.

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