TODAY: The Cubs placed Winkler on unconditional release waivers, per Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). He will be a free agent.
AUG 17: The Cubs have selected outfielder Michael Hermosillo to the big league roster, the team announced. Reliever Dan Winkler was designated for assignment to open space on the active and 40-man rosters. Additionally, Chicago announced that left-hander Kyle Ryan has elected free agency after being passed through outright waivers.
Hermosillo reaches the majors for the fourth consecutive season, as he saw brief time with the Angels every year from 2018-20. Between those three years, the right-handed hitter only picked up a grand total of 118 plate appearances, slashing .188/.288/.287 with a single home run. Amidst those struggles, Los Angeles passed him through waivers last August and he hit minor league free agency over the offseason.
Chicago added the 26-year-old on a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Iowa. Hermosillo has been brilliant in the minors, raking at a .310/.448/.600 clip and popping ten home runs in 183 trips to the plate while playing all three positions on the grass. With the Cubs reeling at the major league level, they can afford to give Hermosillo a look to see if he can emerge as a late-blooming option for the 2022 team and beyond. He’s out of minor league option years, so Chicago now needs to keep him on the active roster or expose him to waivers.
Winkler has been a fixture in the Cubs’ bullpen over the past two seasons. He kept runs off the board last year despite underwhelming peripherals, but he’s had a difficult 2021 campaign in every regard. The righty has a 5.22 ERA over 39 2/3 frames, striking out hitters at a below-average 21.1% rate while walking a very high 15.8% of opponents.
The past few seasons have been a struggle for Winkler, who pitched well from 2017-18 with the Braves. With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, he’ll find himself on waivers in the coming days. A claiming team would assume what remains of his $900K salary; otherwise, the Cubs will be on the hook for the tab. Winkler has the right to elect free agency while retaining his entire salary should he pass through waivers.
That’s the course of action Ryan chose after being designated for assignment last week. The veteran southpaw is now set to explore other opportunities. Should he sign elsewhere before August 31, he’d be eligible for his new team’s postseason roster.