The Chicago Cubs have made a move by signing righty Tony Barnette to a one-year deal that also includes a club option for 2020. Barnette will receive a $750k salary for the upcoming season and the club option is valued at $3MM. Also included in his contract, Barnette can earn an additional $250K for starting the season on the active roster, $250k if he stays on the roster through 155 games, as well as another $250k in possible incentives.
Barnette, 35, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006 but never made it to the big league club. Instead, Barnette decided to sign a contract with the Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional League in Japan and ended up spending six years with the Swallows. During his time in Japan, Barnette put up impressive numbers as a closer while amassing a total of 97 saves for the team. His run in Japan ended when the Texas Rangers came calling and offered him a big league contract to come back to the states. Barnettes first year with Texas was a good one as the reliever pitched to a 2.09 ERA over 60.1 innings but the following campaign was not nice to him as he posted an ugly 5.49 ERA. Last season with the Rangers he was able to regain the form from his first year while pitching to a 2.39 ERA but unfortunately his season was cut short due to shoulder issues that limited him to only 26.1 innings. In all, Barnette owns a career 3.50 ERA over 144 innings during his three year run with Texas.
The Cubs have had a fairly quiet off season thus far as they have been known to be watching their spending. The team feels like they already have a complete roster that is healthy and ready to contend. Their bullpen should get an in house upgrade if Brandon Morrow returns to full health and can lock down the closer role. The biggest move this off season so far for the Cubs looks to be them picking up the option year on Cole Hamels and outside of that move they have only made minor moves in the Brad Brach and Daniel Descalso deals. With the Milwaukee Brewers winning the division last season and the Cincinnati Reds adding multiple pieces this off season, it should be an exciting season in the NL Central.