He’s back. The Chicago Cubs’ lone MVP candidate from 2020, receiver of one (1) MVP vote, reliever Ryan Tepera has returned.
That, per Jon Heyman, who says that Tepera is getting a big league deal:
Ryan Tepera back to Cubs. MLB deal.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 26, 2021
Tepera, who famously received an oopsie MVP vote last year, was a resurgent performer last year with the Cubs for much of the season thanks to the development of a nasty cutter. His performance trailed off considerably as the season went on, but it was clear that the bones were there for a guy who could be a really good set-up man.
Overall, Tepera, 33, posted a 3.92 ERA and 3.34 FIP over 21 appearances, and his strikeout rate jumped from 22.9% for his career all the way to 34.8% with the Cubs. The guy was hilariously nasty when the cutter was on. It was literally the nastiest pitch (by whiff rate) in baseball last year. Definitely worth re-signing.
So, then, Tepera adds to the massively massive bullpen mix, and probably slides into the “yeah, he’s making the team and will get setup innings” spot that Rowan Wick would be holding if he weren’t injured. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a little relationship there, and it’s also possible that the Cubs place Wick on the 60-day IL to open up a 40-man spot for Tepera.
UPDATE: Modest big league deal, as expected:
Confirmed #Cubs bringing back reliever Ryan Tepera on $800k MLB deal, pending physical.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) February 26, 2021
Given Tepera’s new-found upside, that’s just a steal.