Goodbye, Hector. It’s been nice. Hope you find your paradise. On a day when Kris Bryant, Kyle Hendricks, Tommy LaStella and (shudders*) Justin Wilson were all tendered and brought back for the 2018 season, the North Side lost a good man, and a better piece of the Latin Swag puzzle.
Listen, it was Hector’s time to go. There’s no debating it. Rondon’s been pitching on borrowed time ever since Aroldis poisoned his mojo in midsummer 2016. But I do think it’s appropriate to take a step back and acknowledge his unique and magical run at the Friendly Confines.
First of all, there will not be another Hector Rondon pitching in a Cubs uniform any time in the near future. The guy emerged from NOWHERE to become the go-to guy out of the ‘pen on a very good ballclub, and a pretty dominant closer (for a minute or two).
Before Theo was making headline deals for flashy closers, he was using Rule 5 draft picks to flyers on guys like Hector Rondon. Hector was never the flame thrower that Aroldis was. Not the sniper that Wade was. He looked like an anteater and had a gut that would make Jim Irwin proud. But the guy had a fastball with life, plus-plus offspeed stuff, and a fearlessness when tasked with getting the final three outs of a ballgame.
His “come from nowhere” effectiveness is a dying breed. It seems like every day, a bigger percentage of the team becomes a hot-shot rookie or a big-name market acquisition. But these new guys on the block will never have the “awkward, sweaty uncle” look on lock like Hector Rondon. Adios, 56. Thanks for the memories.