MESA, Ariz. — Cubs bullpen coach Chris Young welcomed Drew Smyly with a smile and a dose of sarcasm.
“They’ll let anyone in here, huh?” Young shouted as he joined Smyly in the bullpen Saturday afternoon, his first day back with the Cubs.
Smyly, who in 2018 rehabbed from Tommy John surgery with the Cubs, signed a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2023 on Saturday. The deal is reportedly worth $5.25 million plus incentives.
Smyly’s signing was one of a flurry of moves. The Cubs also made official the signings of infielder Jonathan Villar (one year with a mutual option), left-hander Daniel Norris (one year) and Robert Gsellman (non-roster invite).
To make room on the 40-man roster, infielder David Bote (left shoulder surgery) was put on the 60-day injured list and right-hander Tommy Nance on the COVID-19-related injured list.
The Cubs also optioned Alexander Vizcaino to Double-A and put him on the restricted list. Rounding out the moves, Nelson Velázquez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Christopher Morel to Double-A Tennessee and Alexander Canario to Single-A South Bend.
Smyly wasted no time jumping into camp. The left-hander was playing catch on the agility field at Sloan Park before the team announced his deal.
“I got a taste of the organization [in 2018],” Smyly said, “and I knew how many tools and resources they had, the technology to put people in the best position to succeed.”
Smyly is the third free-agent pitcher from the 2021 World Series champion Braves whom the Cubs have signed this spring. He joins Chris Martin and Jesse Chavez (non-roster invite). Smyly posted a 4.48 ERA with Atlanta last year.
Smyly said he was in talks with the Cubs before the lockout, and his familiarity with the organization was a draw. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy was on staff when Smyly joined the Cubs the first time around, and Young was his pitching coach the next season in Philadelphia.
Smyly gives the Cubs another left-hander who can compete for a rotation spot, joining Justin Steele, who threw two scoreless innings in the Cactus League game Saturday against the Padres.
“They know I want to start, and I think I’ll get that opportunity to start,” Smyly said. “But I know I have a lot of value in other areas, too. So, just depending on what the team needs, I’m open for it.”