Cubs

Cubs betting Rafael Soriano will strengthen their bullpen

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Cubs betting Rafael Soriano will strengthen their bullpen

DETROIT – The Cubs will be adding a big-name reliever to a bullpen operating without a set closer: Rafael Soriano.

The Cubs finalized a minor-league deal with Soriano on Tuesday, structuring it with a prorated $4.1 million base salary and $4 million in incentives. So if the 35-year-old right-hander comes up for half the season – a realistic timeline – then he would make roughly $2 million guaranteed.

The Cubs hope they will be getting the lights-out pitcher who put up a 0.97 ERA for the Washington Nationals in the first half of last season, not the one who lost the closer’s job and had a 6.48 ERA after the All-Star break.  

“I have no idea what he’s going to look like,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 6-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. “He’s down in the Dominican and has to go through some paperwork to get out of there. I think once he gets up here, we’ll have a better understanding.”

Soriano earned his only All-Star selection while pitching for Maddon on the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays, posting a 1.73 ERA and saving 45 games for the American League East champs.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Despite fading down the stretch, Soriano still finished with 32 saves last year. He’s pitched in five postseason series with the Rays, Nationals and New York Yankees, where he filled in for – and worked alongside – the legendary Mariano Rivera.

Soriano is coming off a two-year, $28 million contract delivered by super-agent Scott Boras. Soriano apparently grew frustrated with the waiting, recently dropping Boras and switching to Octagon Baseball, which has a Chicago office, several Cubs as clients and a managing director, Alan Nero, who represents Maddon.

“He really knows how to pitch,” Maddon said. “I would like to believe that he would be able to impart his pitching wisdom on a lot of those guys on how to pitch hitters, and how to pick your poison.

[WATCH: What can Soriano bring to bullpen?]

“Oftentimes, after a game, the next day, he and I would talk about the hitters he had faced, and he’d tell me what he was thinking going into the game. I was always impressed with what he saw from the bullpen.

“So beyond his ability to help us pitch and win games, he’s really good at observing and knowing what to do versus hitters. And I’d like to believe that’s going to be part of his value.”

Maddon likes to get creative with the bullpen and not do everything by the book. The manager appears to be leaning toward a closer-by-committee with some combination of Pedro Strop, Jason Motte and Hector Rondon, who’s been demoted after his struggles in the ninth inning.

Will Soriano factor into the closer’s role at some point?

“I have no idea – I honest to God don’t,” Maddon said. “I just want him to be well, and obviously get here and help us. And (then) we’ll make that determination.” 

Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: What will David Ross' impact on the Cubs be like in 2020?

As new manager David Ross takes over for Joe Maddon, he intends to tweak the culture of the Cubs and set his own mark on the team. Jeff Nelson is joined by Outside the Ivy and Bleacher Nation's Michael Cerami to discuss what kind of impact David Ross will have on the 2020 Cubs, what should be expected from the pitching staff and bullpen, and the uncertainty of who plays in the outfield.

(1:36) - What does Ross' impact look like?

(8:28) - Concerns with the pitching staff

(16:00) - Will Craig Kimbrel be better this year?

(20:00) - Will Kris Bryant have enough rope to get used to leading off?

(25:05) - Who do you trust to play the outfield every day?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote put his sweet, sweet swing to special use on Tuesday.

Prior to the Cubs’ Cactus League game vs. the Rockies, a couple of Cubs fans asked Bote to partake in their gender reveal. The duo brought a powder-infused baseball, asking Bote to take a hack to reveal whether they’re having a boy or girl.

The father-to-be tossed the ball to Bote, who smashed it open to unleash a pink cloud of powder — signifying the couple will have a girl. The 26-year-old infielder — who has two daughters himself — threw his arms in the air to celebrate.

No matter how you feel about gender reveals, you’ve gotta love the uniqueness of this one and Bote partaking in the special moment. Here’s to a healthy life for the baby! 

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