10:15am: Tepera can earn an additional $800K via performance incentives and $150K via active roster bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The deal can max out at $1.75MM.
9:45am: Tepera is guaranteed $800K on the deal, tweets NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer. The deal is still pending a physical.
9:25am: The Cubs have reached an agreement to re-sign free agent right-hander Ryan Tepera, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s a Major League deal, per the report. Chicago non-tendered Tepera earlier in the winter rather than pay him a raise via arbitration, but he’ll now return for a second season on a new deal. Tepera is represented by All Bases Covered Sports Management.
Tepera, 33, was a regular in the Blue Jays’ bullpen from 2015-19 before being non-tendered and latching on with the Cubs last offseason. Many have had fun with the fact that Tepera received a lone tenth-place MVP vote, and while that was surely unexpected, the righty did give Chicago a fairly strong season. Through 20 2/3 innings of relief, Tepera turned in a 3.92 ERA (3.51 SIERA, 3.34 FIP) with a career-high 34.8 percent strikeout rate and a 13.5 percent walk rate that he’ll want to curb in 2021.
This makes three Major League additions to for the Cubs’ bullpen this month, as the club has also signed righty Brandon Workman and lefty Andrew Chafin to help fortify the relief corps. It’s still a shaky looking group that lacks proven depth, but Tepera unequivocally gives them another solid option. He’s tallied 236 innings as a Major Leaguer and logged a combined 3.66 ERA with a 24 percent strikeout rate and a 9.1 percent walk rate. That alone makes him a nice add for the Cubs, but if he can maintain last year’s huge boost in strikeouts while returning closer to that career walk rate, he’d be a substantial upgrade.
Tepera has five-plus years of Major League service time, so unlike last year when the Cubs signed him, they won’t have the option to keep him through arbitration this coming offseason. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end and return to the open market. That’s also true of Workman, Chafin, Dan Winkler and Craig Kimbrel — Chafin and Kimbrel have options that aren’t likely to come into play — so the Cubs will once again have some work to do to fill out their bullpen next winter.