Before leaving for the South Side, Ryan Tepera reminisced with Cubs manager David Ross about a conversation they had a year ago.
“I was sitting in his office, and he looked me in the eyes, and he sent me down for Opening Day last year,” Tepera recalled Thursday. “I told him straight up, ‘I'll be back, and I'm going be your setup guy.’”
Tepera made good on that promise, and now he’s headed to the White Sox. The trade became official a couple innings into the Cubs’ 7-4 loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday. The Cubs acquired left-handed pitching prospect Bailey Horn from their crosstown rivals.
Tepera’s trade was the first to come down on Thursday and the third of the past couple weeks. Rizzo’s trade to the Yankees was next, news breaking about an hour after the game. More moves are expected to follow before the trade deadline Friday.
“It's been a pleasure, man,” Tepera said, “just to play here at Wrigley Field and in front of the fans, and enjoying this atmosphere, and just being a part of history, honestly. It's been awesome.”
Tepera bounced back from not making the 2020 Opening Day roster to becoming one of Ross’ go-to bullpen arms in high leverage situations last season. Tepera (0-2, 2.91 ERA) has been even better this year, his second with the team. He, fellow setup man Andrew Chafin and closer Craig Kimbrel made up the Cubs’ “Big 3” at the back end of the Cubs bullpen.
After Tepera’s trade, Kimbrel was the only one still with the club. And Kimbrel has been linked to several teams in trade rumors.
"Tep, Chafe and Kimbrel were the guys that we got to, to win baseball games," Ross said. "And when you lose two of those three guys, it makes it difficult. … I'm sad to see him go, but I'm happy he's going to get the chance to pitch in the playoffs.”
Tepera learned of his trade directly from Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, who broke the news to Tepera in the lunchroom Thursday.
“It's kind of a unique thing for a trade to happen between the crosstown rivals,” Tepera said. “And I'm excited. Obviously, going to a first-place team playoff in contention; I'm looking forward to it.”
Logistically, too, remaining in the same city has its advantages.
“I can stay at the same apartment,” Tepera said. “I usually scooter to the field, but now I’ve got to drive to the field. So, it's only about 15, 20 more minutes longer, but it could be a lot worse. So, I like it.”