Cubs manager David Ross this week named Craig Kimbrel his closer for the 2021 season, and on Thursday the club officially added a potential setup option in Brandon Workman on a one-year deal.
Workman, 32, comes to Chicago after spending last season with the Red Sox and Phillies. Although he struggled in the shortened season (6.92 ERA, 14 appearances/13 innings), he was dominant in his last full campaign.
Pitching for Boston in 2019, the right-hander turned in career-highs in appearances (73), ERA (1.88), WHIP (1.033) and strikeouts (104).
The Cubs bullpen, which struggled initially last season, turned things around and posted the best ERA in the National League in September. Jeremy Jeffress was a key part of the group’s success, pitching high-leverage innings and taking over as the team’s closer, but he remains a free agent.
Ross, who played with Workman in Boston during the right-hander’s rookie season in 2013, sees the reliever as someone who will be a key contributor to the bullpen in 2021.
“I think he’s a guy that’s going to pitch big innings for us,” Ross told reporters Thursday. “He’s got a true four-seam ride, breaking ball guy — which is really big in the game right now.
“He’s a guy that is a really good competitor, a great teammate, fun to be around, works his tail off, does anything you ask."
The Cubs have numerous relief options for the Opening Day roster. Two returning arms — Rowan Wick and Kyle Ryan — are currently delayed from participating in camp. Others returning from 2020 include Brad Wieck, Jason Adam, Duane Underwood Jr., Dan Winkler, Dillon Maples and James Norwood.
The Cubs also re-signed Andrew Chafin this winter, added Jonathan Holder and swingman Kohl Stewart on big-league deals, and selected Gray Fenter in the Rule 5 Draft. Non-roster invitees in spring training include veterans Pedro Strop and Adam Morgan.
"The bullpen’s kind of shaping up nicely with a lot of options down there as things are unfolding," Ross said.