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Cubs add intriguing young outfielder to big-league roster

3 years agoTony Andracki

The Cubs bid farewell to a bullpen staple Tuesday afternoon but replaced him on the roster with an intriguing young outfielder.

Following a tough outing in Monday’s 14-5 loss, the Cubs designated veteran right-hander Dan Winkler for assignment and called up outfielder Michael Hermosillo.

Hermosillo appeared in Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory as a pinch-hitter and played the final few innings in center field.

Winkler’s appearance Monday (3 earned runs in 0.1 innings) ran his season ERA to 5.22. That mark sits at 29.45 (12 ER in 3.2 IP) in August as Winkler has scuffled of late.

He began the year with a 0.76 ERA and 0 homers allowed in his first 26 outings. Winkler, 31, has been a big part of the Cubs bullpen the last two seasons (65 appearances) but he’s a free agent after the season and the organization will evaluate future assets in the bullpen over the remainder of 2021.

Meanwhile, Hermosillo is getting his first crack at the big leagues with the Cubs.

The 26-year-old signed with the organization as a minor league free agent in November and has been absolutely mashing with Triple-A Iowa — .310/.448/.600 slash line (1.048 OPS) with 10 homers, 29 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 42 games. He has seen time at all three outfield spots but primarily played center field.

He spent some time in spring training with the big-league club, hitting 2 homers with a 1.103 OPS in 13 Cactus League at-bats.

“Mike’s been great,” David Ross told Taylor McGregor on a Marquee Sports Network pregame interview. “He had a good spring training for us. He’s been a guy that’s been around a little bit and had some time. He was having a great Triple-A season. He got hurt a little while back; he may have been up a little earlier but had an injury that held him up.

“He’s done a nice job vs. left-handed pitching in his minor league career. He’s done really nice for the Iowa team this year. We’ll see what he’s able to bring at this level but he’s played pretty good center field, can go get the ball and swinging the bat really well.”

Hermosillo provides a right-handed option for Ross in an outfield that boasts a pair of left-handed starters (Rafael Ortega, Jason Heyward). He has seen action in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Angels the last three seasons, appearing in 56 games and posting a .575 OPS in 118 plate appearances.

The Cubs are in the process of evaluating what players could become part of the team’s next core and Hermosillo still has five years left before he hits free agency. He was not in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds but he’ll likely figure into the mix over the next few days.

Both Winkler (Effingham) and Hermosillo (Ottawa) are Illinois natives.

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