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.
Charlie 11 hours 37 min ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 16 hours 35 min 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 1 day 5 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 1 day 6 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 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!
crunch 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
shout out to 1999 1st base gold glove winner rafael palmeiro. 25 starts (28 games total) at 1st...128 starts at DH.
Charlie 2 days 8 hours ago (view)
Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.
crunch 2 days 10 hours ago (view)
RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists
bradsbeard 2 days 14 hours ago (view)
Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure.
Arizona Phil 2 days 15 hours ago (view)
There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games.
Arizona Phil 2 days 16 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.
He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls.
bradsbeard 3 days 5 hours ago (view)
Phil, curious if you've seen enough of Jacob Wetzel to offer an initial scouting report. Just from watching some prep video he looked pretty strong and fairly athletic (HS football player and all). Impressive numbers albeit in community college, but he was a division 1 recruit before that so he's pretty intriguing to me.
KingKongvsGodzilla 5 days 3 hours ago (view)
AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!
crunch 5 days 13 hours ago (view)
jim hickey new nats pitching coach.
bradsbeard 6 days 8 hours ago (view)
Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there.