Riefenhauser was released by the Astros on Saturday, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Riefenhauser, who had signed a minor league contract with the Astros, picked up a save in his final spring appearance for Houston on Friday. The 27-year-old left-hander, who has 24 games of MLB experience as a member of the Rays, had a 2.35 ERA over 7.2 spring innings. He allowed three runs on five hits and seven walks while striking out five.
Riefenhauser signed a minor league deal with the Astros on Tuesday, which includes an invite to spring training, The Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan reports. Riefenhauser had a 4.55 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 27.2 innings over 28 games with Triple-A Iowa before he was released in August. The 26-year-old southpaw will look to earn a spot in the Astros' bullpen, which had the 10th best ERA in the league last season.
Riefenhauser cleared waivers and was outrighted off the 40-man roster Thursday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. Riefenhauser has some major league experience, but that's about all he has going for him this season. With the I-Cubs, the 26-year-old is sporting a 7.30 ERA through 12.1 innings pitched, leading the Cubs to boot him from the 40-man roster. After no teams claimed him, the left-hander will likely act as organizational pitching depth going forward.
Riefenhauser was optioned to minor league camp on Friday. Riefenhauser will head down to minor league camp after a rough start to spring training in which he allowed two home runs and three earned runs over just 3.2 innings of work. There was some belief that the release of Rex Brothers would help Riefenhauser's chances at making the Opening Day roster, but his struggles on the mound ultimately snuffed out that opportunity. He'll start the year in the bullpen at Triple-A Iowa in all likelihood.
The Cubs released Rex Brothers on Thursday, helping Riefenhauser's long-shot chances of making the Cubs out of camp. He's probably still behind Travis Wood and Clayton Richard on the depth chart, but Riefenhauser and Eric Jokisch are the only other lefty relievers on the 40-man roster. Still, given his lack of success in the majors and the strong Cubs bullpen, Riefenhauser is more likely to begin the year in the minors.