Cubs take low-risk route

The signing of reliever B.J. Ryan is basically a no-lose situation for the Cubs. Ryan will earn a pro-rated salary of $400,000, which means if he makes it back to the Major Leagues the team will play less than $200,000 for a possible power arm from the left side in the bullpen.

Ryan has battled injury and ineffectiveness over the past couple of season after signing a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays as their closer. Scouts who saw Ryan pitch before he was released told me he was topping out at 83 mph.

Ryan will work with Cubs pitching coordinator Mark Riggins at their minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz. Ryan will work on regaining his arm strength and command before getting some pitching time in with one of the minor league affiliates.

The Cubs' bullpen needs a lefty to join Sean Marshall. This would allow manager Lou Piniella to have both a lefty long reliever and a lefty to use toward the end of a game. Marshall will also be considered for the rotation if Ryan works out. This would protect the team if any injury or poor performance arises in the starting rotation.