Today, the Chicago Cubs announced the signing of reliever Jason Motte to a one-year deal. Terms were not disclosed, but it’s been reported that Motte will get $4.5 million, plus incentives tied to games finished – i.e., if he ends up taking over as the closer at some point, he’ll make more.
For now, Motte is a relatively inexpensive roll of the dice for the Cubs in the bullpen. He brings veteran presence and a huge fastball, plus coverage if the many youngsters in the bullpen stumble and Pedro Strop loses his control. The downside risk is real, however, with Motte having missed 2013 following Tommy John surgery, and having pitched only so-so in his first year back in 2014.
I dig the move for the Cubs, assuming money isn’t so tight at this point that $4.5 million closes the door on any other meaningful additions. I don’t believe that it does (particularly given the Jon Lester contract structure), but we’ll see what’s what. The bullpen was eventually a strength last year, but the Cubs will look to avoid the early-season hiccups there that can derail a team. Motte has huge upside, as he showed from 2010 to 2012. Hopefully he proves to be that guy for the Cubs.
Motte takes the Cubs’ final 40-man roster spot for now, though I’d expect other movement there – perhaps a lot – as the offseason goes on.