Chicago Cubs: Is it too early to worry about the 2020 bullpen?

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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Chicago Cubs: Cedeno might be a big under-the-radar addition

Barnette and Cedeno signed Major League deals with the Cubs shortly before spring training. With the front office obviously trying to save money, these two were part of the front office’s volume approach to trying to piece together the best bullpen with minimal additional salary.

Barnette, 35, signed a one-year, $750,000, Major league contract with a $3 million team option for 2020 and holds a 40-man spot. He played in Japan for a while before coming back to the United States in 2016. Barnette pitched well in 2016 (2.09 ERA in 60 1/3 innings) and last year (2.39 ERA in 26 1/3 innings). In 2017 he did not pitch well (5.49 ERA in 57 1/3 innings). His low inning total last year was due to a pair of injuries: a right-shoulder strain and a strained lat muscle.

Cedeno signed a one-year, $900,000, non-guaranteed, Major League deal. That means that he could be cut in spring training and the Cubs would only have to pay termination pay, which is a fraction of the $900,000. It also means Cedeno is also taking up a spot on the 40-man roster and cannot be optioned to the Minors.

Of these two, Cedeno seemed to be the one more people are excited about. If he looks familiar to you, that might be because he pitched for both the White Sox and Brewers last season. The 32-year-old left-hander had a combined 2.43 ERA and 2.95 FIP in 48 games over 33 1/3 innings, striking out 34 and walking 16.

For his career, Cedeno has been much better against lefties than righties.

  • Lefties (91.0 IP): .218/.285/.298
  • Righties (84.2 IP): .280/.262/.434

However, last year his splits were nearly equal against both lefties and righties.

  • Lefties (15.2 IP): .207/.281/.293
  • Righties (17.2 IP): .212/.316/.288

However, Cedeno has an injured wrist on his pitching hand. He isn’t expected to be ready for Opening Day. That also means the Cubs can’t release him for just termination pay. The good news is that once he is healthy, they can stash him in Iowa on a rehab assignment for up to 30 days. If the club is experiencing a roster crunch when he first gets healthy, the front office can use the rehab assignment to delay making a decision for a while.

Cedeno doesn’t have an option in his contract for next year. So even if he pitches well this season, it doesn’t mean he will be around for 2020. If Barnette pitches well, the Cubs may choose to exercise his option. However, if the free agent market continues to collapse as it has during the last two offseasons, $3 million for Barnette might look rather pricey.

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