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Cubs reach into bargain bin for free-agent reliever Ryan Tepera as bigger moves remain on hold

Their efforts to improve an 84-victory roster are stuck in payroll-budget limbo until they can make a trade that moves significant salary off the books,

Toronto Blue Jays v San Francisco Giants
Tepera vs. the Giants last season
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The frugal Cubs continued their bargain hunting Friday with the signing of free-agent reliever Ryan Tepera to a split contract worth $900,000 on the major-league side.

It was the latest in a series of minor moves the Cubs have made this winter as they wait for the free-agent market to wind down and give way to a more active trade market. It was also their biggest acquisition of the offseason, the larger of their two major-league free-agent signings. They signed reliever Dan Winkler to a $750,000 deal this month.

The Cubs’ efforts to improve an 84-victory roster are stuck in payroll-budget limbo until they can make a trade that moves significant salary off the books.

Tepera, 32, has spent all or parts of five seasons in the majors, all with the Blue Jays. He has a career 3.64 ERA, 10 saves and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 216 games.

Tepera, whose contract pays $300,000 on the minor-league side, has a minor-league option left — a key part of his value for a team that used 25 pitchers in relief roles last season.