It’s another talented-but-not-quite-there-yet arm for the Cubs to bring into the system, work in the Pitch Lab, and see what happens.
This time, it’s former Royals prospect Matt Tenuta joining the Cubs on a minor league deal, as first noted by Arizona Phil.
Tenuta, 26, is a 6’4″ lefty who converted to the bullpen in 2017 at High-A with the Royals, and rode a steady progression from there of huge success, promotion, struggle, repeat level, huge success, promotion, struggle, etc. That 2017 season saw him hit AA with the Royals, who then traded him to the Mariners before the 2018 season began.
Sticking at AA with the Mariners in 2018, Tenuta dominated (2.98 ERA, 27.2% K rate, 7.3% BB rate) before being promoted to AAA and struggling, and ultimately finishing the season back down at AA. He opened 2019 back at AAA, struggled again, and was sent back down to dominate at AA. From there he hit minor league free agency, and has now wound up with the Cubs.
As is usually the case with these types of signings, the Cubs likely are digging something specific that Tenuta does well (and he has had great success at AA at least), and they want to see if they can make some tweaks to get him over the hump. Although the Cubs are starting to load up in a big way on arms at the AA and AAA level, it doesn’t really hurt to get a guy you like into instructs (and then Spring Training) and see what you might unlock.
I also kinda wonder if the Cubs are trying to corner the market on really tall pitchers (it can be tough to keep their mechanics in sync, so if the Cubs figured out some particular ways to help tall pitchers, they could create a nice little niche in player development). Tenuta isn’t QUITE in the Wieck/Megill/Choplick range of height, but 6’4″ is still pretty darn big.