The Chicago Cubs have added to an already improved bullpen by inking Wesley Wright to a one-year contract worth $1.425 million, via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. By adding the left-handed Wright, the Cubs have made their bullpen far more versatile.
The 28-year-old, who spent his entire career with the Houston Astros until being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays last summer, posted an ERA of 3.27 in 2012 and 3.69 in 2013. Averaging more than 9 K/9IP, Wright has shown that he can miss some bats.
While the move will go under the radar in the grand scheme of free agency, it does make the Cubs bullpen start to look decent. With Kyuji Fujikawa hopefully returning by midseason after missing most of last season, the bullpen has a chance to be a pleasant surprise on the North Side.
Cubs Projected Bullpen with Addition of Wright:
- Closer: Pedro Strop
- Setup Man: Blake Parker/James Russell or Wesley Wright if a lefty is needed
- Seventh Inning: James Russell/Wesley Wright
- Middle Relief: Carlos Villanueva
- Middle Relief: Hector Rondon
- Middle Relief: Justin Grimm
- Long Relief: Brooks Raley
While Wright isn't a game changer in the bullpen, he clearly adds versatility to a young Cubs bullpen. Now manager Rick Renteria has the flexibility to be able to use a lefty in the eighth inning. Before, with only James Russell to use as a lefty, he would often be used up on one batter in the seventh inning. That situation left the righty who pitched the eighth vulnerable if the opposing team stacked its lineup with lefties.
In a division where left-handed hitters such as Joey Votto and Pedro Alvarez have a chance to hurt you late in games, having multiple south paws is a luxury.
It would be nice to see the Cubs add another bullpen arm before free agency is over, but for now, Wright gives them flexibility that they haven't had in the past. He isn't a big-name signing, but he could be the first of many small signings that make a difference down the road.
Having a one-year contract means that Wright has to prove himself to the Cubs this season. If he does that, he could find himself with the team as they enter the rewarding part of the rebuilding process.