Feb. 15: Chicago’s announcement of the contract reveals that Cedeno’s contract is actually a non-guaranteed Major League deal, meaning he’s been added to the team’s 40-man roster. He can still be cut for only a portion of that salary this spring, but the Cubs would be on the hook for the full $900K if he makes the Opening Day roster.
Feb. 13, 8:28pm: MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that Cedeno can earn an additional $300K worth of incentives on the contract. He’ll be in Major League camp as a non-roster invitee.
7:52pm: The Cubs are in agreement on a contract with left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno, per Patrick Mooney and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mooney further tweets that it’s a non-guaranteed deal that would pay Cedeno a $900K base salary if he makes the roster. Cedeno is represented by MDR Sports Management.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein voiced earlier this week that he hoped to be able to “squeeze” one more reliever into the team’s apparently limited budget (Twitter link via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago), and landing Cedeno on a non-guaranteed deal is certainly a nice means of doing so. The southpaw split the 2018 season between the White Sox and the Brewers, pitching to a terrific 2.43 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 0.27 HR/9 and a 54.4 percent ground-ball rate in 33 1/3 innings. That marked a strong bounceback effort for the former Rays reliever, who pitched just three innings in 2017 owing to a forearm injury.
Though the 32-year-old Cedeno is far from a household name, he had a solid run from 2014-16 leading up to that forearm issue. In 94 1/3 innings in that time, he worked to a 3.05 ERA with 95 strikeouts against 27 walks with just seven home runs allowed. He’s been especially hard on left-handed hitters throughout his career, holding same-handed opponents to a bleak .218/.285/.298 batting line over the life of 384 plate appearances.
The Cubs aren’t exactly short on left-handed volume in the ’pen, with Mike Montgomery, Brian Duensing, Randy Rosario and Kyle Ryan each already on the 40-man roster, though Cedeno will give them yet another depth option with a fair bit of MLB experience to add to that mix.