As first reported by The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have signed minor-league free agent lefty Kyle Ryan to a major-league deal. After pitching in parts of four seasons with the Tigers, Ryan signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs last December and made 22 appearances (eight starts) for Triple-A Iowa this past season.
#Cubs sign LHP Kyle Ryan to major-league contract, source tells The Athletic. Was minor-league free agent. At AAA with CHC last season: 2.86 ERA in 66 IP, 22 games, eight starts. From 2014 to ‘17, 3.87 ERA in 128 IP during various stints with #Tigers.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2018
This combined with the earlier trade for Ronald Torreyes to fill the 40-man roster, though it’s obviously not going to remain as is. Well, it better not.
The 27-year-old Ryan is a finesse pitcher whose fastball sits around 90-91 mph and who needs to have good control to be effective. That was not the case in 2017, when he posted a 5.36 BB/9 mark in 45.1 AAA innings and then walked seven in only 5.2 big league innings. He had things dialed in with Iowa, though, and notched 8.32 K/9 (his highest at any professional level) and 2.45 BB/9.
This appears to be a depth move that could offer the Cubs an option for when injuries inevitably crop up. Ryan worked exclusively as a starter through his early years in the minors but has transitioned to more of a bullpen role since 2015. Lefty long relievers/swing starters are good to have around, and this could pay off if Ryan is able to maintain the control he displayed in 2018.