Cubs Give a Wink and a Nod to a Righty Reliever

The Cubs have signed RHRP Dan Winkler to a 2020 MLB contract. The deal reportedly includes a $750K MLB salary and $750K more in potential performance bonuses with a $200K minor league split salary. 

Winkler features a 90 MPH cutter (his bread & butter pitch), a low 80's slider and a low-90's FB, and an occasional CH, all thrown from a low 3/4 arm slot, somewhat like Steve Cishek. So think of Winkler as Cishek's probable bargain-bin replacement in the pen.   

Now 29 (he will be 30 in February), the 6'3 205 righthander graduated from St. Anthony HS in Effingham, IL in 2008, and was the 20th round selection of the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 draft out of Central Forida (he was also selected by the Cubs in the 43rd round of the 2010 draft out of Parkland JC but did not sign).

He led minor league baseball in strikeouts in 2013 and was rated the #16 prospect in the Texas League by Baseball America in 2014 even after sustaining a torn UCL in his right elbow and undergoing TJS in June 2014.

He was left off the Rockies 40-man roster post-2014 (he was expected to miss most of the 2015 season while rehabbing) and was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the Major League Phase of the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft. He spent most of the next three seasons on the Braves 10-day and 60-day DL, first rehabbing from the TJS and then after undergoing surgery for an elbow fracture sustained in April 2016. So his Rule 5 Draft restrictions remained in effect until he accrued 90 days of MLB Service Time, which didn't happen until late April 2018 (more than three years after he was drafted!).  

So Winkler was (finally!) healthy in August 2017 and quickly established himself as a reliable member of the Braves bullpen. However, he was optioned to AAA Gwinnett by the Braves in June 2019 after struggling over the first 2-1/2 months of the season, and he was one of two pitchers sent to the Giants in the Mark Melancon deal at the Jule 31st trade deadline. Winkler was then immediately Designated for Assignment by SF and was outrighted to AAA Sacramento on 8/3 after waivers were secured. 

Winkler was a post-2019 Article XX-D minor league FA (he had the right to elect free-agency immediately after being outrighted, but he chose to defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season). 

Winkler has two minor league options left, but because he spent so much time on the Braves MLB DL 2015-17 he has already accrued more than four years of MLB Service Time, and so once he acrues another 109 days he will hit five years of MLB ST and his remaining options will be effectively not usable since he would have to give his permission before he can be optioned once he reaches 5+000 MLB Service Time.

If he is still on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster by the end of the season, he will be eligible for salary arbitration post-2020.   

Comments

AZ Phil, looking around Baseball Savant, it looks like Winkler now primarily throws a low 90s cutter, a 4-seamer that he throws a little harder (but is less effective), a curve and a sinker. The slider and change haven't been a major part of his repertoir the last two years. The cutter has been really effective the last two years but it looks like he lost command/effectiveness of his 4-seemer and curve last year For whatever reason  

BRADSBEARD: Fangraphs shows the CT as his primary pitch in 2018 with the SL & FB (and an occasional CH) as his secondary pitches, with no CV at all. I guess I'll find out for sure in Spring Training. 

Looks like Savant has his breaking pitch classified as a curve while Fangraphs calls it a slider. Suppose by ST he could have made everything over in the pitching lab, so who knows!

Brad Brach signs with the Mets for $850K but the Cubs are paying $500K, per Ken Rosenthal. Wasn't his 2020 club only supposed to be on the hook for league minimum?

when he got to the mets he suddenly learned how to throw with control (small sample size etc).  last year was not a fun bullpen year...

semi-interesting winter league note...

trey mcnutt (yes, that guy) is having a hell of a winter league in mexico (one of the less talented winter leagues) so far as a closer.  15.2ip 8h 4bb 24k, 0.57 era.

giants signed him to a minor league deal a couple weeks ago.  he never went anywhere.  he's been consistently playing ball in the minors and indie league ball since he was last a noteworthy player.  last season he played in the OAK minor league system.  30 years old now...

winter meetings start tomorrow...guys got into town friday/today.

the cubs are supposedly looking to tap the trade market for their major moves.  this is the place where it gets done or seeds get planted.

also, the modern day HOF class will be announced.  marvin miller will most likely get in.  lou whitaker and ted simmons should have some heat, too.

the newly created "all MLB team" will add to the useless no-one-cares off-season awards...also annouced at the winter meetings.  fan voting no one cared about closed recently and it will be combined with a "panel of experts" to create the list.

rule 5 draft on thursday.

I think we all are ready for some action.

Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton wasn't enough for you? Tough crowd.

f'real.  i don't even know why they're going to bother playing games.  i'm over here printing Cubs 2020 World Series Champs banners while others are sleeping on reality.

The Cubs have 15-20 extra pitchers in their minor league system due to unbalanced drafting over the last few years.  I am ready to see them err on the side of giving the internal guys too many chances as compared to signing AAA players who had short stints in the big leagues which didn't go too well.  We don't know it the Cubs organization is just that bad at developing pitching, or has too many guys trying to prove themselves in a fixed number of minor league innings.  Bad scouting/development or self-inflicted bottleneck?

I'm with you 100% on that. Minor league retreads are fine and all but we don't need to be paying premiums for middle relief.

Just saw a fun report that the Cubs are telling even budget type free agents they can't currently negotiate until they clear some payroll. So that's a fun start to the winter meetings.

remember when the billionaire owners got a huge double digit tax cut?

maybe the city should do them a favor and give them more tax savings help to let them buy and build another 2-3 revenue projects outside of the park.  that might help these struggling heroes find some extra loot.

i know this rant isn't fair, but my "dan winkler got a MLB contract fever" is dying down a bit.

Their friend Donald will come through for them.

things that are important to good on-field play like buying up all the property around wrigley field, from rooftops to acerage, isn't going to monetize itself.

i know some people would love to have a top tier pitcher, but i'm looking forward to more control of rooftop advertising and an open air beer garden near the team owned hotel and resturant complexes.

i know some people want a solid leadoff man, but i'm looking forward to seeing 10-20 concerts on off-days destroying the playing field so that extra revenue can help a polician in Nebraska or Iowa get some ad buys.

priorities.

all that aside, it's hard to complain too much about a team that's still a top spender, but having a strong playoff contending team that doesn't have much worth mentioning in the minor league pipeline doesn't seem like the proper time to "go cheap."  2020 isn't the team's last great shot, but we're still on borrowed time with this current crop of power bats.

marvin miller and ted simmons are part of the next HOF class.

long time coming for miller.

Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine
Cubs have had talks with Phils on Bryant. Nothing there at the moment. Service time grievance still an issue.

3B Alec Bohm and RHSP Spencer Howard would likely be the Cubs asking price and the Phils probably say no, but if they don't say no, that could be a deal. 

as awesome as bryant is, it would probably be good for the cubs to find him a new home before his play at 3rd turns him into a corner OF'r...which seems inevitable sooner than later.

i'm still impressed how much his D improved since he was drafted, but he's already losing a step at the position early in his career.

minor league ballplayers will no longer have to worry about getting suspended for testing positive for weed...it's off the prohibited substances list.

about time.

It's high time if you ask me.

jeremy jeffress agrees.

Hey AZPhil, when a player is released with money/years still remaining on his contract, does his next team *have* to give him the prorated major league minimum or can they offer more (meaning the original club owes less) to "outbid" other teams that may have had interest? I'm assuming that's what happened with Brad Brach, where the Mets signed him for 2020 at $850,000.

jdlym: The contract Brad Brach signed with the Mets includes a $850K base salary for 2020, a $1.25M club option for 2021, $400K in potential performance bonuses in 2020, potentially $2.25M in 2021 salary accelerators, and $500K in potential performance bonuses in 2021, so ordinarily the Cubs salary obligation to Brach would be the difference between Brach's new 2020 base salary ($850K) and what would have been his 2020 player option salary ($1.35M) if he hadn't been released by the Cubs. 

However, Brach's 2020 contract with the Cubs included $850K in roster bonuses of which only $350K was reached while he was with the Cubs, so when Brach exercised his $1.35M 2020 player option after he was released by the Cubs and subsequently signed with the Mets there was apparently an agreement in place where the left-over $500K in 2020 roster bonuses (which he actually reached after he signed with the Mets) would be 100% payable by the Cubs in 2020 if Brach re-signed with the Mets, and apparently there was also an agreement in place betweeen the Cubs, the Mets, and Brad Brach, where Brach's $1.35M 2020 player option from the contract he signed with the Cubs would be 100% replaced by his new contract with the Mets. 

d.ross meets the media at winter meetings...video/audio

https://www.pscp.tv/w/1ypKdBvlvzyJW

Apparently Cubs were approached by Rizzo's agent about an extension. They told him it wasn't happening.

Cubs organization is performing a master class in how to burn good will among fans!

i wish this team was owned by billionaires rather than these...oh, nevermind.

If only they had revenue from having recently won the World Series and a string of playoff appearances along with a new TV contract! Then they could really spend.

I hope "isn't happening" was more like, "we'd love to continue to discuss this soon"--after extensions/trades of younger players are a bit more sorted.

So who is left in the free Agent market that has had Tommy John surgery?  That seems to be a Prerequisite for Theo.  Cotton and Winkler both did adding to all the other signings of Theo.  I would love to see how many people Theo has signed or drafted who has had TJS.

Taijuan Walker is a good candidate. 

still waiting for rich hill to happen over here...i promise to be totally not impressed or happy about it.  not a tj guy, but he's injured as hell and not expected to show up until mid-season at best.

whoever they pick to give a few million dollars over a couple seasons to not pitch for the cubs in any of them, i welcome them.

on a serious tip, there are rumors of a minor league deal for b.morrow.

g.cole - yanks - 9/324m

s.strasburg - nats - 7/245m

a.rendon - angels - 7/245m

boras has signed $814m of contracts for his guys this week.  not bad.

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  • Hagsag 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    Ine of my alltime favorites.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    He played in the big leagues longer than he played any other level of organized baseball combined.

     

  • crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    al kaline has died at age 85.

    from highschool to the majors without touching the minors...22 seasons, all with DET...18x all-star...3000 hit club.

     

  • Charlie 3 days 20 hours ago (view)

    Currently at a near full-time job that just barely covers my monthly expenses if nothing emerges.

    I make more than that.

     

  • crunch 3 days 20 hours ago (view)

    "Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Major League Baseball is considering opening the season in empty spring training parks -- with no fans and all players quarantined.

    The plan would have all teams stationed in one centralized location -- likely Arizona"

     

  • Arizona Phil 5 days 9 hours ago (view)

    In addition to 40 players signed to 2020 MLB contracts, after releasing 22 minor leaguers this week the Cubs now have 279 players signed to 2020 minor league contracts (plus one minor leaguer on the Restricted List), for a total of 320 players in the organization (181 pitchers, 30 catchers, 60 infielders, and 49 outfielders).   

     

  • JustSayin' 5 days 18 hours ago (view)

    Years of over-drafting pitching shown here.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 5 days 20 hours ago (view)

    Some of the players cut I am not too surprised by. Some of them I think are definitely victims of the minor league pay thing and being squeezed out.

    That said, I am very surprised they gave up already on Riley McCauley and Niels Stone.

     

  • Hagsag 5 days 22 hours ago (view)

    Baseball America is showing a big group of players that have been released.

     

  • Arizona Phil 6 days 11 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have released minor league catcher Rafelin Lorenzo. He was selected from the Pittsburgh Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft and spent the 2019 season at South Bend. He was eligible to be a minor league 6YFA post-2020. 

     

  • JustSayin' 1 week 20 hours ago (view)

    The organizations will cut rosters down, as if the full-season teams were breaking camp to start the season, THEN pay the remaining minor leaguers $400/week or whatever.  That's similar to what costs would have normally been but the "one last chance" players who got spring training invitations this year and didn't have an obvious roster spot won't be getting their last chance.

     

  • crunch 1 week 22 hours ago (view)

    "According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, all minor league players will be receiving $400 per week from MLB through at least May 31."

    so that's where that promise landed.  the scary thing is that's still more than some in the low minors make on a weekly basis.

     

  • crunch 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    "Jeff Passan of ESPN writes that the players and league agreed that the 2020 season won't start until "there are no bans on mass gatherings that limit the ability to play in front of fans, there are no travel restrictions and medical experts determine games will not pose a risk to health of teams and fans." Passan does add that the two sides "will consider the feasibility of playing in empty stadiums" and also at neutral sites.

     

  • crunch 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    i miss baseball.  it could happen in june...it may happen in late may...it might not happen either way.

    there's so many things getting messed up right now i would get lost making a list.  there's some college guys making a serious "okay, we need to look at that guy" push that's dead.  former cubs draft pick russell smith (2017, LHP highschool) took last season off for injury (TCU college) and returned with a low 90s fastball, impressive control, and a MLB-quality changeup.  his "comeback" was 4 games and done thanks to this current situation...

     

  • JustSayin' 1 week 3 days ago (view)

    COVID 19 + a short draft + Manfred's obsessive drive to shrink the minor leagues will change baseball forever.  It WAS still America's grass roots sport.  Where I live, from June through August, you could see a quality live game any day of the week, within an hour's drive.  I believe that era is over.  What's going on will have ripple effects, contracting serious college ball, college summer leagues and independent pro ball just as much as the MiLB systems.  With those changes, some of the game's charm will also go.  I've seen a kid from Cape Cod play in the Ca

     

  • crunch 1 week 4 days ago (view)

    fyi for anyone who bought MLB.tv

    for "some reason" getting a cancel+refund via phone is like pulling teeth, but if you contact them via a webpage contact request many people are getting a cancel+refund confirmation within an hour or 2...