When the Chicago Cubs traded for arbitration-eligible reliever Rex Brothers last fall, they did so as the kind of low-risk, “we aren’t going to give you much for him, but we’ll tender him a contract if you won’t” move that teams looking for depth are willing to make.
As we saw with yesterday’s game, and with his appearances this spring before that, Brothers’ command issues – the ones that plagued him the last two years in Colorado – had not abated, and the Cubs were going to need to make a decision on whether to hang onto Brothers and guarantee his full $1.42 million salary for 2016, or whether to cut him and save some scratch.
With Travis Wood and Clayton Richard heavy favorites to land in the bullpen, plus four five righties as virtual locks (Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren), there wasn’t a lot of space for Brothers as is. Even if the Cubs carry eight relievers (they probably will), guys like Neil Ramirez, Manny Parra, C.J. Riefenhauser, Spencer Patton, and a host of others had at least as good of a shot of winning the job as Brothers.
Because arbitration-level deals are not fully guaranteed until after Spring Training, the Cubs are able to release Brothers owing him just 30 days termination pay, or about $250,000. The move, then, saves the Cubs more than $1 million that can be put to use down the road as needed.