Cubs add left-handed pitcher to bullpen mix in trade with Brewers

Cubs add left-handed pitcher to bullpen mix in trade with Brewers

The day after the Cubs acquired a new closer, they added a left-handed option to the bullpen.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected Caleb Smith in the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning at the MLB winter meetings and then immediately flipped the southpaw to the Cubs for cash.

Smith is 25 and has pitched only one game above the Double-A level.

Originally selected in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, Smith posted a 3.96 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 27 games (seven starts) in Double-A Trenton last year, striking out 70 batters in 63.2 innings.

With Aroldis Chapman back on the Yankees, Travis Wood still a free agent and Mike Montgomery expected to move into the rotation, the Cubs' bullpen was lacking left-handed pitchers this winter.

The Cubs signed veteran southpaw Brian Duensing last week and Rob Zastryzny is expected to contribute after impressing during his rookie campaign (1.13 ERA). 

Smith represents another option for Joe Maddon's bullpen, but the Cubs have to keep the young pitcher on the 25-man roster all season or else he would go back to his original team (Yankees).

Hector Rondon represents proof Rule 5 Draftees can make an impact when he was selected by the Cubs in 2012, but the organization was in a much different position four years ago than they are now as the defending World Champs with a loaded roster.

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Elsewhere in the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs lost right-handed pitcher Armando Rivero to the Atlanta Braves.

Rivero will be 29 in February and began his Cubs tenure in 2013 after defecting from Cuba. He's posted a 2.70 ERA and 12.4 K/9 throughout his four minor-league seasons in the Cubs system.

Rivero has spent the last two seasons in Triple-A Iowa, posting a 2.13 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 67.2 innings in 2016.

The Cubs also selected infielder Kevin Cornelius from the Yankees with the 30th pick of the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Cornelius hit .299 with a .393 on-base percentage and .589 slugging percentage in the Yankees system last season, playing 43 games at Advanced Class-A and 13 games in rookie ball.

Teams can protect players from the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. For the Triple-A part of the Rule 5 Draft, organizations can protect up to 38 more players on top of the 40-man roster.

The Cubs lost infielder Daniel Lockhart to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Triple-A portion of the Draft.

Lockhart — the 24-year-old son of former big-leaguer Keith Lockhart, who is currently a Cubs scout — played 89 games in the Cubs system in 2016 at Myrtle Beach (Advanced Class-A) and Tennesee (Double-A).

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

After helping bring a World Series title back to the North Side, Aroldis Chapman is headed back to New York.

The former Cubs closer signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees, according to FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

He was acquired by the Cubs in July in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney and Gleyber Torres.

Chapman notched 36 saves and owned a 1.01 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and recorded 90 strikeouts across 26 2/3 innings with the Cubs during the regular season.

He appeared in 13 postseason contests, where he registered a 3.45 ERA,1.09 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.