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Cubs face minimal risks in exploring the non-tender free-agent market

Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- The Cubs are expected to kick the tires on some low-risk options after 56 players became free agents Monday when their teams declined to offer 2020 contracts.

Reliever Blake Treinen, a 2018 All-Star, is expected to get the most attention from bullpen-starved teams. Treinen, 31, who was non-tendered by the A's, posted a 0.78 ERA in 68 appearances and struck out 100 in 80? innings in 2018.

But Treinen regressed last season, when he dealt with injuries. He finished with a 4.91 ERA in 47 games, and his WHIP nearly doubled from 0.834 in 2018 to 1.619. He was projected to earn nearly $8 million before he was non-tendered.

The Cubs had interest in Kevin Gausman during his time with the Orioles (2013-17), but Gausman hasn't fulfilled the promise since he was the No. 4 selection in the 2012 draft -- two picks ahead of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr.

Gausman, 28, had a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts with the Braves in 2018 after a deadline deal with the Orioles. But this year he had a 5.72 ERA in 31 games with the Braves and Reds.

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Gausman was projected to earn about $10.5 million before he was non-tendered by the Reds. He could be viewed as a bullpen candidate.

 

Taijuan Walker, 27, represents a low-risk possibility for the Cubs. He has pitched only 14 innings over the last two seasons with the Diamondbacks because of Tommy John surgery and a right shoulder injury. The Cubs in recent seasons have signed other pitchers recovering from injuries in Drew Smyly and Kendall Graveman.

Walker posted a 3.49 ERA in 28 starts with the Diamondbacks in 2017. He was projected to earn around $5 million before he was non-tendered.

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