Cubs, Tyler Duffey Agree To Minor League Deal


The Cubs have agreed to a minor league deal with right-handed reliever Tyler Duffey, as first reported by Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Ballengee Group client will be invited to big league camp this spring.

Duffey, 32, was a mainstay in the Twins’ bullpen from 2017 until this past summer, when he began to struggle with diminished velocity, a dwindling strikeout rate and increased susceptibility to home runs. The former fifth-round pick appeared in 40 games for Minnesota this past season but pitched to a 4.91 ERA with a 21.1% strikeout rate, 8.1% walk rate and a bloated 1.64 HR/9 mark. The Twins designated Duffey for assignment on Aug. 5 and released him three days later. Duffey signed minor league deals with the Rangers and Yankees over the next few weeks but didn’t make it back to the Majors with either.

Prior to those 2022 struggles, Duffey had been a regular in late-inning situations with the Twins. There were some red flags in 2021 when both his strikeout and walk rates trended in the wrong direction, but the Twins bet on the right-hander’s track record and kept him for the 2022 season.

From 2019-20, in particular, Duffey was an absolutely dominant force in the Minnesota relief corps. He tallied 81 2/3 innings over that two-year peak and posted a sterling 2.31 ERA to go along with a gaudy 34.2% strikeout rate, an excellent 6.1% walk rate and a 43.1% ground-ball rate.

That’ll be the form the Cubs hope they can unlock this spring. They’ll be the third team to take a chance on Duffey since he was cut loose by the Twins, however, and neither the Rangers (four walks in five scoreless Triple-A frames) nor the Yankees (seven runs in six Triple-A frames) managed to do so while taking their brief looks at Duffey late last summer.

Duffey fits the Cubs’ preferred mold of offseason bullpen shopping in recent years. Since the Cubs inked Craig Kimbrel to an ill-fated three-year contract, they’ve moved away from lavish additions in the bullpen, instead gravitating toward low-cost one-year contracts and minor league deals for veterans of note who are seeking to reestablish themselves.

The Cubs’ earlier $2.8MM deal with righty Brad Boxberger also fit into this bucket. Over the past three seasons they’ve also signed Mychal Givens, David Robertson, Daniel Norris, Ryan Tepera, Chris Martin, Brandon Workman, Trevor Williams and Dan Winkler to one-year deals worth $5MM or less, while some non-roster deals have been given out to notable names like Jesse Chavez, Pedro Strop, Adam Morgan and Robert Gsellman, among others.

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