The Chicago Cubs announced on 12/20/2019 that they have signed RP Ryan Tepera to a one year deal. He'll make $300K in the minors, and $900K if in the majors, and has one option remaining. Tepera is 32 and has spent his entire career in the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays
Tepera joins the Cubs as more of a depth arm for the bullpen. Thed has been famous for making these kinds of moves trying to find proverbial needles in haystacks. That's a bit extreme, as it's more like gambling on a slot machine. You don't expect much, but play enough times and you get a big win or two. They've had reasonable success, so I'm as reasonably excited for this move as one might expect.
Tepera is about as good as you could hope for for a bargain basement transaction. His career slash line reads:
3.64 ERA/4.41 FIP/1.156 WHIP/ 7.2 H per 9/ 3.2 BB per 9/ 8.5 K/9 1.3 HR per 9/ 216 games, 215 IP, 10 S, 63 GF.
He limits runners and manages contact. he doesn't walk many, and keeps the ball in the park enough. He pitched in the playoffs twice, and has a little closer experience as well. A bunch of little things that mean he could be a stable RP.
The bad on him was almost completely limited to last year, when he put up a 4.98 ERA 6.03 FIP in an injury shortened 23 game season. He missed all of June, July and August with a right elbow impingement. He gave up runs in 3 straight appearances leading up to the injury list appearance, and then was a bit better once returning in September. In 11 post-injury appearances, he pitched 10.2 innings, walked 2, gave up 20 hits, and 4 ER.
Tepera is essentially a 3 pitch pitcher, throwing a cutter, four seam fastball, and sinker. He occasionally mixes in a slider and changeup too. He's good against righties, not as much against lefties. A key stat I found is a 47% ground ball rate vs RHB, a potentially ideal pitcher to come in and get a double play in a critical spot. His velocities were a bit down last year, but still not bad.
Looking over everything, I think this is a good move. He's super cheap, has had decent success in the tough AL east, and is capable of being a late inning RP. If he's hurt or terrible, there's not much cost. His upside is being a solid 7th-8th inning guy. Considering that he seems to be over the injury, he could pretty easily make the team out of spring training and be a solid contributor. If the bullpen is 7 deep, he'd likely be a 5th-7th guy up, Not bad for less than a million. Seems like a good solid roll of the dice. A few more like this, and there should be reasonable depth for 2020. Good work Thed.