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Here are three relievers who could be the next Andrew Chafin or Ryan Tepera

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The Cubs could target any or all of these guys for the 2022 bullpen.

This is not Ricky Vaughn from “Major League” — but J.D. Hammer sure has the look down
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In the comments to my Saturday article suggesting the Cubs put the band back together and re-sign Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera, several people suggested trying to find the “next” Chafin or Tepera, rather than paying the money to bring those two back.

With that in mind, I set out to find free-agent relievers who might fit in that category. The criteria I used:

  • The pitcher must be around 30 (or younger, if possible)
  • The pitcher should have a good 95+ fastball (since the Cubs don’t have a lot of guys like that), and
  • The pitcher must have had at least some MLB success.

I located three free-agent relievers who matched most or all of those criteria. Let’s have a look.

Yimi Garcia

Garcia has had several good MLB seasons, particularly 2015 and 2019 with the Dodgers and 2020 with the Marlins. He wasn’t quite as good in 2021, split between the Marlins and Astros, but he is 31 and still throws with good velocity:

Statcast

Despite not-great results in 2021, Garcia still has a good K rate and walk rate, and has significant postseason experience (15 appearances in three postseasons). He made $1.9 million in 2021, and I’d say the Cubs could probably have him for a two-year, $5 million deal with a third-year option for $6 million with a $500,000 buyout.

Hansel Robles

Robles had some good years for the Mets from 2015-17 and also pitched pretty well for the Red Sox down the stretch after they acquired him from the Twins at the trade deadline (3.60 ERA, 1.360 WHIP, 33 strikeouts in 25 innings for Boston).

Robles is almost exactly the same age as Garcia (born five days apart in 1990) and though his walk rate is a bit higher than optimal, he, too, throws hard:

Statcast

Robles made $2 million in 2021 after a $3.85 million deal with the Angels in 2020 (before pandemic pro-ration). Here I would propose a two-year, $4 million deal with a $5 million third-year option and a $500,000 buyout.

J.D. Hammer

Hammer has those Ricky Vaughn “Wild Thing” glasses and throws nearly as hard as Charlie Sheen’s movie character did in “Major League.”

Hammer had a decent year for the Phillies in 2021, granted with a higher walk rate than you’d like (5.5 per nine innings). Last week the Phillies outrighted him to their Triple-A Lehigh Valley roster, upon which he elected free agency.

He’s just 27 and last year at Lehigh Valley he struck out 36 in 23⅔ innings (13.2 per nine innings). That’s in line with his minor-league career (12 strikeouts per nine innings in 174x total innings in five minor-league seasons). Here’s his pitch mix:

Statcast

He’s a two-pitch pitcher but so what? As a reliever, you can get away with a mix like that.

I think Hammer is a good under-the-radar guy who might be helped by the Cubs’ Pitch Lab. I don’t think I’d give him more than a minor-league deal, with a $1 million guarantee if he makes the Opening Day roster.

What say you? And do you have other pitchers who might fit this description? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Poll

Yimi Garcia...

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed in the article
    (116 votes)
  • 3%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but it will cost more in dollars or years or both
    (21 votes)
  • 73%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (389 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (3 votes)
529 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Hansel Robles...

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed in the article
    (90 votes)
  • 3%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but it will cost more in dollars or years or both
    (18 votes)
  • 78%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (415 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (4 votes)
527 votes total Vote Now

Poll

J.D. Hammer...

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed in the article
    (157 votes)
  • 2%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but it will cost more in dollars or years or both
    (14 votes)
  • 67%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (354 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (1 vote)
526 votes total Vote Now