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Cubs, righty Winkler have 1-year deal 

@MLBastian
December 6, 2019

CHICAGO -- The Cubs could benefit from adding an impact arm to their bullpen, but the team also needs to lengthen out its depth chart. With the latter in mind, Chicago reeled in a high-upside option on Friday via the acquisition of free-agent right-hander Dan Winkler. The Cubs announced that

CHICAGO -- The Cubs could benefit from adding an impact arm to their bullpen, but the team also needs to lengthen out its depth chart. With the latter in mind, Chicago reeled in a high-upside option on Friday via the acquisition of free-agent right-hander Dan Winkler.

The Cubs announced that they signed Winkler to a one-year Major League contract, giving him the chance to join the list of relievers competing for a spot in Chicago's Opening Day relief corps. His pact with the Cubs is a split contract that will include a $750,000 base salary at the big league level.

As things currently stand, Chicago has Craig Kimbrel slotted into the closer's role, with setup men Kyle Ryan and Rowan Wick in front of him. Righty Tyler Chatwood might be in the bullpen, but he could also push for a rotation job, depending on how the rest of the Cubs' offseason develops. Beyond that group, the 'pen is full of uncertainty.

Winkler, who will turn 30 in February, is coming off a rough 2019 season in which he posted a 4.98 ERA in 27 games with the Braves before finishing the year at Triple-A in the Giants' system. One year earlier, though, the right-hander put together a 3.43 ERA with 69 strikeouts against 20 walks in 60 1/3 innings (69 games) for Atlanta while holding righties to a .193 average (.501 OPS).

Although his surface statistics took a hit in 2019, Winkler did post some intriguing numbers via Statcast. The average spin rate (2,542 RPM) on his four-seamer, for example, ranked 19th among 517 pitchers with at least 100 results. Winkler -- who relies on a cutter, four-seamer, curve and sinker -- also had high spin rates on his other offerings.

Results are what matter most, but the high spin rates mean there is potential for the Cubs to get more out of Winkler. The reliever also has one Minor League option remaining, meaning Chicago can send him to Triple-A Iowa without worrying about exposing him to waivers.

Between Jharel Cotton (acquired from the A's via trade), CD Pelham (claimed off waivers from the Rangers) and Winkler, the Cubs have added three depth pieces who could impact the MLB bullpen in 2020. Other leading internal candidates for the Cubs' relief cast next year include Dillon Maples, James Norwood, Alec Mills, Duane Underwood Jr. and Brad Wieck.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.