Chicago Cubs: Kyle Ryan signs minor league deal

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 10: Kyle Ryan /

The Chicago Cubs signed left-hander Kyle Ryan on Wednesday to a minor-league contract. If anything, the Cubs continue to build a pitching surplus in the minors.

I know what your thinking. Who? I’ll admit, I did the same thing when I saw the Chicago Cubs signing of Kyle Ryan. But looking at it a little closer, it’s a smart low-risk, high-reward signing. Ryan has had some success with the Detroit Tigers, but a back injury slowed him in 2016. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Toledo. Barring a miracle, he’ll likely start with Iowa. But he could be depth the Cubs could use come September.

But could he turn out to be this year Brian Duensing? At just 26, Ryan is under team control for the next five seasons. If the Cubs can solve his woes on the mound, this could be an under the radar pickup. But since he was claimed off waivers, it’s a no harm, no foul deal.

One good year earns him a shot

In 2016, Ryan posted a 3.07 ERA in 55 2/3 innings. He allowed just two home runs before being shut down with the back injury. He suffered a rib/back issue that caused him some tightness when pitching, but no other time.

When he returned in 2017, he was never the same pitcher. He pitched just 5 2/3 innings over eight appearances and was shelled. His ERA was at 7.94 when the Tigers decided to send him down, and he never returned.

He pitched 45 1/3 innings at Toledo but struggled to the tune of a 4.96 ERA. Part of the concern is that why he doesn’t allow home runs, his walk rate is high. And as they say, a walk is as good as a run.

Ryan is a lefty so that he may get an NRI (non-roster invitee) to camp. The hope is that the Tigers gave up on him too early after the injury. Lord knows the Cubs have done the same (Todd Zeile, anyone?).

But if he’s healthy and can get back to the form of 2016 he could be a welcome addition. On top of that, he’s credited Justin Wilson for figuring out his game. And yes, I realize the absurdity of this. Wilson, who struggled upon coming to Chicago, helped said pitched “figure it out.”

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So the Cubs at least have another arm in the minors. Will he figure it out? Was the injury what was holding him back, and is he still suffering from it? These are questions that the Cubs will get answered soon enough with spring training just around the corner.