Another Reliever! Cubs Reportedly Sign Lefty Xavier Cedeño (UPDATE)

Social Navigation

Another Reliever! Cubs Reportedly Sign Lefty Xavier Cedeño (UPDATE)

Chicago Cubs

Theo Epstein said, knowingly, that the Cubs might squeeze in another reliever this offseason, and then today the team moved Kendall Graveman to the 60-day Injured List, which opened up a 40-man roster spot. (See UPDATE, as that may not have been necessary.)

Thus … a new reliever signing:

(“Non-guaranteed” suggests it’s a minor league deal, but I wonder if it’s actually a big league deal that allows him to opt-out or allows the Cubs to cut him, or send him to the minors (but he still gets big league pay). Otherwise, why not just call it a minor league deal? You may recall that Shae Simmons got a deal like that last year.)

Although he’s not a household name, Cedeño, 32, has been quietly very good for a while now. He has a very nice 3.69 career ERA, albeit over a relatively limited 175.2 innings. Last year, he posted a 2.43 ERA (42% better than league average!) over 33.1 innings split between the White Sox and Brewers (bring us your secrets!). Perhaps more impressive were his 24.3% K rate, his 54.4% groundball rate, and 0.27 HR/9.

Interestingly, that huge success in 2018 came after an almost entirely lost 2017 season (the dreaded forearm injury – he went the PRP route rather than surgery). So there’s a very real injury risk here, but when he’s been healthy in his career, he’s been very good.

Cedeño is the third notable free agent addition to the Cubs’ bullpen – together with Brad Brach and Tony Barnette – as the Cubs look to fill things out with cost-effective options. They’ve also brought in a load of arms on minor league deals.

So why did Cedeño receive such a small, non-guaranteed deal? Well, part of it is the nature of rosters and budgets being mostly set at this point, but I suspect there is also the concern about his health and about his ability to duplicate anything close to his 2018 success. If he was perceived to be a very good bet to be that guy again, he would obviously get a much more significant contract.

Here’s hoping the situation works to the Cubs’ advantage, because adding another effective lefty into the mix – competition or otherwise – is a very good thing at this point in the year.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman says it’s a non-roster invite, which again, implies it’s a minor league deal:

If this isn’t some kind of special deal, then the 40-man roster stands at 39, and the Cubs can give Cedeño a look in Spring Training and make a decision on whether to roster him only after figuring out whether he’s going to make the pen. I’m going to presume he’s got an opt-out available at the end of Spring Training.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.