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.

Recent comments

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  • Arizona Phil 16 min 22 sec ago (view)

    Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHRP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter. 

    He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs  immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 6 hours 20 min ago (view)

    Good to see Roederer and Velasquez  providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development

     

  • Arizona Phil 10 hours 23 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster. 

     

  • crunch 11 hours 46 min ago (view)

    "He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."

    reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 39 min ago (view)

    Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 55 min ago (view)

    TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 13 hours 33 min ago (view)

    AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here. 

    He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.

    His receiving should improve with experience as well. 

     

  • azbobbop 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?

     

  • tim815 1 day 18 hours ago (view)

    That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.

    Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 11 hours ago (view)

    For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.

    As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 2 days 12 hours ago (view)

    In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:  

    RHP Josh Burgmann 
    RHP Chris Clarke 
    LHP D. J. Herz
    RHP Michael McAvene 

     

  • Charlie 3 days 9 hours ago (view)

    This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.

     

  • bradsbeard 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump. 

     

  • crunch 4 days 3 hours ago (view)

    iapoce expected to stay.  i'm surprised.  i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.

     

  • crunch 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.

     

  • Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year