In a move that could signal the impending departure of Addison Russell, the Cubs picked up veteran infielder Ronald Torreyes from the New York Yankees in exchange for a PTBNL or cash (whenever "or cash" is specified in these type of deals it almost always ends up being the return).
A solid base runner and utility man capable of filling in at 2B/SS/3B (he also has a bit of experience in the OF), Torreyes is a career .281/.310/.375 hitter in 614 PAs over parts of four MLB seasons with the Dodgers and Yankees. As evidenced by his modest OBP and SLG, Torreyes does not draw many walks (3.9 BB%) or hit for much power (.094 ISO), but he does put the ball in play with regularity (13.0 K%, 8.3 SwStr%) and has managed to hold a .280 average or better in each of the past two seasons.
Torreyes has bounced around between seven organizations in his career and this will be his second stint with the Cubs. He was previously acquired from the Reds as part of the package received in exchange for Sean Marshall back in 2011. After a year and a half in the Minors, reaching as high as high as AA at the age of 20, the Cubs dealt him to the Astros on July 2nd of 2013 for international bonus pool money. That date is significant because it is the day the Cubs inked the #1 prospect in IFA, Gleyber Torres, to a deal. They would add the #2 prospect Eloy Jimenez the following month.
Cubs Re-Sign Kyle Ryan
Cubs fans may not be overly familiar with Kyle Ryan despite his prior MLB experience and him carving out an important role with Iowa last season. From 2014-17 he posted 3.87 ERA in 128 IP with the Tigers. He was a solid contributor in those first three partial years with the team but a disastrous 2017, when his normally above average control abandoned him, the Tigers outrighted him off their 40-man roster. He signed with the Cubs last winter on a Minor League deal. After a stint in extended spring training to open the season, Ryan hit the ground running as a swingman once he arrived in Des Moines.
Over 22 games (8 starts), Ryan posted 2.86 ERA with 61 K vs. 18 BB in 66 IP. His 61.0 GB% was the 2nd best in the PCL among pitchers with 60+ IP. He was arguably the I-Cubs best pitcher over the second half of the season and was a candidate to be added to the 40-man roster prior to September but the late season acquisitions of Jorge de la Rosa and Jaime Garcia helped stabalize the left side of the bullpen and the team did not need to call on Ryan.
The 27-year old does not fit the mold of a lefty specialist. He is a former starter with multiple pitches that tends to work at least one inning and has been slightly more effective against right handed batters in his career. I am unclear as to whether Ryan will have an option year remaining (help AZ Phil!). Update: Ryan does indeed have one option year remaining so my guess is he will often be the first option for recall from Iowa whenever help is needed in the pen.
If the Cubs are able to return him to Iowa to keep on hand, he will join a large array of left handed options in the I-Cubs bullpen. The team has former 2nd overall pick Danny Hultzen, former 2nd round pick Rob Zastryzny, 2018 PCL All-Star Alberto Baldonado, recent waiver claim Jerry Vasto, as well as 2018 Chicago fan favorite Randy Rosario under contract. All except Baldonado and Hultzen have at least some MLB experience.
40-man Roster Status
Today's moves temporarily brings the Cubs 40-man roster up to capacity. The deadline to tender contracts for 2019 is Friday and the team will likely non-tender catcher Taylor Davis and right handed relievers Justin Hancock and Allen Webster. Unlike with Russell, the Cubs will probably try to re-sign each of those players to Minor League deals with non-roster invites to spring training. It is doubtful Hancock or Davis could secure MLB deals elsewhere, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that Webster could draw some interest now that he showed he was healthy and throwing mid-90s late in 2018.
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