Cubs announce signing of OF Steven Souza Jr., also add ex-Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress
The two low-risk, bounce-back candidates signed for $1 million and $850,000, respectively — the Cubs’ first major-league signings of the winter.
It took 17 weeks and two days since the end of last season, but the Cubs made their first major-league acquisition of the winter — two of them, in fact.
They signed two bounce-back candidates to low-risk, one-year contracts Tuesday: former Rays and Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza Jr. for $1 million and former Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress for $850,000.
Both deals include incentive clauses that can raise the total values to $3 million for Souza and $1.05 million for Jeffress.
That left only the Rockies among the 30 teams who have not added a player on a non-split, major-league contract since last season.
Souza’s agreement was officially announced by the club Tuesday night. The Cubs must clear a spot on the 40-man roster before officially announcing Jeffress.
The deals, which come one day after the Reds announced a four-year, $64 million deal with ex-Cubs outfielder Nick Castellanos, further underscore how limited the Cubs have been this winter by budget constraints.
Their current projected roster would push them over the luxury-tax threshold ($208 million) for a second consecutive season — keeping in play trade rumors swirling around several core players.
As with any one-year deal, the full base values of the signings are not guaranteed until they make the opening roster.
Souza, 30, hit 30 homers with an .810 OPS in 2017 but missed half of 2018 and all of 2019 with injuries. His bonus package includes $1 million total in meeting plate-appearance thresholds and another $1 million in reaching thresholds of days on the active roster.
Jeffress, 32, joins a list of high-potential, low-risk, bounce-back pitchers the Cubs have put together for a bullpen that could be the Achilles’ heel or the backbone of the team, depending on the direction of those bounces.
Jeffress was an All-Star workhorse for the Brewers’ 2018 division winner, producing a 1.29 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in a career-high 73 games.
After a sore shoulder delayed his 2019 start by three weeks, he struggled much of the season before the Brewers released him. He had a 5.02 ERA in 48 games.
The Cubs also added depth in low-level trades for and low-risk signings of Casey Sadler, Travis Lakins, CD Pelham, Ryan Tepera, Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton.