The Cubs officially announced Saturday that they have agreed to a new contract with lefty Drew Smyly. Though terms were not disclosed, it was previously reported that the deal is for two years and $19 million with a mutual option for 2025. Smyly will earn $8 million next season and $8.5 million in ’24 with another $2.5 million guaranteed in the form of a buyout on that option.
The deal also includes an opt-out after next season, so Smyly will have a choice of whether to return for a guaranteed $11 million or hit free agency again looking for more. He’s going to need to work primarily as a starter in order to make the opt-out worthwhile, and it does look like the Cubs are expecting to use him in that role based on the size of the deal. It should go without saying that Smyly also needs to stay healthy.
In order to make room on the roster, the Cubs designated righty Erich Uelmen for assignment. The 26-year-old made his major league debut last season with Chicago, going 2-1 with one save, three holds, and a 4.67 ERA in 25 relief appearances. He was selected by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
The Cubs now have 23 pitchers on the 40-man roster after claiming lefty Anthony Kay off waivers from the Blue Jays and DFA’ing Alfonso Rivas. They’ll need to clear another spot for Tucker Barnhart, but they have a little time on that decision because the catcher isn’t scheduled to complete his physical until after the holidays. Michael Rucker could be a casualty of the squeeze, or they could also try to sneak Kay through.
Then there’s the matter of adding another bat, possibly Trey Mancini, which will require further roster tweaks. It appears as though Matt Mervis is being given a clear lane to take the everyday first base gig and he’ll need a spot too, but that will be freed up by moving two or three players to the 60-day IL once spring training starts.