The Cubs continue to pace the market for under-the-radar signings, this time with a deal for 32-year-old righty Ryan Tepera. Drafted by Toronto in the 19th round back in 2009, Tepera has spent his entire career in the Blue Jays organization. Initially a starter, he was moved to the bullpen at Triple-A in 2014 and has logged 215.1 MLB innings over the past five seasons.
Ryan Tepera agrees to Cubs deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 20, 2019
A 4.98 ERA and 6.03 FIP this past season don’t reflect well on Tepera’s talent and led to his designation for assignment, but his respective career marks of 3.64 and 4.41 are decent enough. He missed most of 2019 due to a procedure to shave down bone spurs in his pitching elbow (check that box), so perhaps his disappointing results can be traced back to that.
More worrisome is the drop in velocity, which again may be tied to the elbow cleanup. While he previously sat around 96 mph with the four-seam and sinker, he was at or below 94 last season. That led to the sinker producing negative value as Tepera gave up way more hard contact and didn’t generate as many grounders. Even when healthy, his 44% groundball rate doesn’t have much sex appeal and doesn’t speak to much ability to overcome other deficiencies at his age.
Jon Heyman’s tweet didn’t indicate the nature of the deal and the Cubs’ press release did not disclose terms of the deal. However, Bruce Levine tweeted that Tepera will receive $900K if he’s in the majors and $300K in the minors. This signing puts the 40-man roster at 39 players.