Cheap: Julian Merryweather
The Cubs made what turned out to be an excellent choice by taking a flyer on Julian Merryweather last winter. After getting designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays in January, the Cubs pounced on Merryweather and the move paid dividends.
Going into the season, we knew that Merryweather had solid stuff since his fastball touches 100 mph on occasion. But he had yet to put it all together in the majors until coming to the Cubs and the bullpen would not have been as good in 2023 without him on the team.
Over 72 innings, Merryweather set down 98 hitters via strikeout and kept his ERA to a solid 3.38. The guy blew away everyone's expectations and set career highs in almost every category this year. That's why his projected salary of $1.3 million is very reasonable in my opinion, especially when you take into account that guys like Michael Fulmer ($4 million) and Brad Boxberger ($2 million) are making more than that.
Relief pitchers are notoriously volatile so maybe we'll look back on this pay bump for Merryweather and say that it was too much. But as things stand right now, I think he deserves it.