Although he’s been with the team for a few days now, lefty Phil Coke’s minor league deal with the Cubs has only recently become officially official, according to Carrie Muskat.
Per the original report, and confirmed by Muskat, Coke, 32, will receive $2.25 million if he makes the big league team, with a chance at another $900,000 in incentives tied to appearances.
For his career, Coke sports a 4.16 ERA, a 3.71 FIP, and a 4.13 xFIP, but the latter two numbers improve to 3.01 and 3.33 against lefties. Indeed, he’s held them to a mere .287 wOBA, and struck them out at a 23.5% rate. Coke has walked just 6.6% of the lefties he’s face.
In other words, Coke looks like a good LOOGY option for the Cubs, who will also have Zac Rosscup, Joe Ortiz, Drake Britton, Francisley Bueno, and Hunter Cervenka competing for the job, together with any lefties who spill over from the rotation competition. As Luis Medina wrote this weekend, though, it looks like Coke could have the inside track over many of the other competitor who could be kept in-house via minor league options.
We’ll see how Coke looks when he gets into game action, which should come soon. Assuming the Cubs want to keep at least one situational lefty in the pen, Coke’s track record – and the fact that he got this kind of split deal in March – suggests he’s probably the favorite for the gig at this point, though impressive showings over the next few weeks from any of the other guys could put them over the top. Unless there’s a rotation lefty who moves into the pen in a long role, or unless there’s a rash of injuries, I would not expect the Cubs to carry two lefties in the bullpen, given the quality right-handed depth.