The Cubs went low budget this winter, signing a bunch of players to one-year deals. With the COVID-19 virus postponing the season and possibly cancelling it, 10 Cubs may never see game action in a Chicago uniform.
RHP Casey Sadler (Reliever)
I had high hopes for Casey Sadler this season, but no higher than the hopes that Sadler had for himself.
Sadler’s 29 now, and if there’s anything good for him about a potentially lost season, it’s that he remains under team control with Chicago through 2021. Assuming that he’s not traded, he’ll be with the Cubs through three arbitration years, making him controllable through 2024.
Sadler hasn’t had a ton of Major League experience, but he showed promise with the Dodgers. and looked good though his brief Spring Training with Chicago. The Cubs have him for a mere $583.5k this season
2B Jason Kipnis
Chicago continues to search for a solid candidate at second base. More importantly, they need a guy who can also swing a mean bat. At age 32, Jason Kipnis signed a one-year/$1M deal this winter, hoping to make his final stand with the team who beat his Indians in the 2016 World Series.
Kipnis has looked OK defensively, but his batting statistics this spring have been awful. Slashing just .182/.208/.273, Kipnis hasn’t lived up to the expectations of the Cubs’ front office. With the season on hold, he may never get the chance to turn things around.
OF Steven Souza Jr.
Steven Souza Jr. was another of the Cubs’ one-year/$1M signings this winter. Plagued by injuries, Souza couldn’t get away from the Diamondbacks fast enough, as fans looked at him as a total waste of time and money.
Souza wanted nothing more than to endear himself to his teammates and the Arizona fans, but a knee injury that required surgery put an end to that. Souza has looked good physically, posting videos of himself running after rehabbing the knee. The Cubs are already dealing with an overly crowded outfield but had hoped Souza could stay healthy and contribute at the plate against lefties.
Utilityman Hernan Perez
At age 29, Hernan Perez grabbed the last of the Cubs’ million-dollar deals this winter. Perez’s bat has never been overly strong (.252/.282/.387 career), but he did show some promise during his five years in Milwaukee. Perez was terrible at the plate this spring, but he would give David Ross a valuable option as the Cubs’ 26th man.
RHP Ryan Tepera (Reliever)
Chicago signed this 32-year-old reliever to a one-year/$900k deal this winter, though Chicago still has a year of total team control before Ryan Tepera reaches his final arbitration year. The Cubs’ bullpen is in shambles. The team is desperate for consistently solid arms. Chicago hoped Tepera could enjoy a bounceback season, and he looked to be on his way before the season was derailed.
RHP Jeremy Jeffress (Reliever)
It was somewhat surprising that the Brewers let 32-year-old Jeremy Jeffress walk, but an injury-plagued 2019 sealed his fate in Milwaukee. Once a strong closer, Jeffress departed ways with his 1.29 ERA in 2018, settling for a 5.02 ERA and a role as a setup man for Josh Hader in 2019.
If the Cubs put any stock at all into one of their signings this winter, it had to be Jeffress. Now rehabbed from hip and shoulder injuries which hindered his 2019 campaign, Jeffress was looked upon as the setup man for Craig Kimbrel, while offering David Ross an option for a backup closer.
RHP Dan Winkler (Reliever)
If anyone has ever been plagued by freak injuries, it’s been 30-year-old reliever, Dan Winkler. Winkler showed a lot of promise with the Braves during the 2017 season, but a pair of Tommy John surgeries thwarted his attempt to become a centerpiece in the Braves’ bullpen.
The Cubs have Winkler for the somewhat high price of three-quarters of a million this year. The problem is, after posting a 6.75 ERA through a handful of innings this spring, it’s obvious that Winkler won’t be the solution to the Cubs’ relief pitching woes. Winkler is now 30 years old, and a solid season may have solidified his future in Chicago, but as of now, it looks as though he’ll ever see action in a game.
RHP Jharel Cotton (Starter/Reliever)
When the Cubs signed 28-year-old Jharel Cotton to a $640k deal this year, they were looking for a solid fifth starter. Cotton looked like he’d have a promising MLB future, posting a 2.15 ERA in 2018 (five starts). An elbow injury jacked his ERA to 5.58 over the course of 24 starts in 2019. Cotton did even worse this spring for the Cubs, posting a 6.75 ERA over his four appearances in spring training.
The Cubs weren’t sure about how Tyler Chatwood or Alec Mills would perform this spring, but both have been solid. It would look as though Chatwood has the fifth spot in the rotation nailed down, with Mills serving as a swingman. Currently, Cotton doesn’t stand a chance of making this rotation. He still has two arbitration years left, however, unless he regains control, he may never suit up.
LHP Trevor Megill (Reliever)
To this point, 26-year-old reliever Trevor Megill has been stashed away in the minors for his entire career. Chicago’s scouts must have seen something promising, as they snatched him away from the Mexican Winter League this year. Chicago signed Megill to a minor-league deal but quickly brought him to camp. Megill struggled this spring and is unlikely to make the team. Fortunately, Chicago has time with this youngster, so you may see him next year.
Catcher Josh Phegley
Chicago signed veteran catcher Josh Phegley to a one-year deal this winter, though the financials were never announced. Phegley could see action as a third-string catcher and the 26th man, should the Cubs want to go that route. Phegley had an exceptional spring, slashing .409/.435/.773 and looked good behind the plate.
Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini are almost unarguably the best 1-2 catching combo in the majors. Phegley would likely see minimal time (if any), barring an injury to someone. Phegley is playing his age-32 season this year and could offer some veteran leadership, but until this virus is gone, he’ll never get the chance.
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