But while both players represent relatively significant additions to each team’s pen, each also comes with some questions – Morrow has a history of injuries, and threw a ton of innings last season (more on that later), and Gregerson had a really rough go of it in 2017.
So, to that end, it’s likely that neither team is done adding to the back end of their bullpen this winter, and, yes, that means they could even dip their toes back into the top tier of free agent relievers and/or trade candidates. But whom?
Well, in separate reports from Bruce Levine and Derrick Goold it becomes clear that the Cubs and Cardinals might both be involved in a pursuit of free agent reliever Addison Reed (and Brandon Morrow). However, both reports were sent through shortly before the Cubs and Cardinals made their moves yesterday. And while we still expect both teams to target relievers, like I said above, the reports suggested that these teams will be in on Reed *and Morrow*.
Now that Morrow is off the board (and the Cardinals signed a reliever of their own to a very similar deal), it’s fair to wonder if Reed is actually still in either team’s line of sight. In other words, maybe both teams were happy to just get one reliever from this “tier” of players (to the extent you put Morrow and Gregerson in the same tier), and now that they have they’ll move onto other options (above or below Reed’s caliber).
But assuming for a moment that the Cubs are still in on Reed, here’s a reminder of what we like and don’t like from his free agent profile earlier in the year:
Reed threw a ton of innings for a reliever this season, after throwing a ton of innings in 2016 (we’ll get to the meaning of that in a bit). Fortunately, the heavy usage didn’t seem to stop him from succeeding, as he once again posted a sub-3.00 ERA with an excellent K/BB ratio (anybody here like strike throwers?). But despite all the strikeouts, there are some obvious knocks against him.
His batted ball profile, for example, is not something you want to see from a late-inning reliever. In short, he’s allowing too much hard contact and too many fly balls in an era where the ball is leaving the park more than ever. And for a pitcher who’d likely be trusted in the most important moments of games, a penchant for homers is not something you seek out.
All things considered, I’m actually very much in on Reed. And moreover, I think his reputation as a workhorse presents some nice risk mitigation from Morrow. As for who closes, well, I don’t really think it matters at this point. If I were Joe Maddon, I’d enter Spring Training/the season with any of Morrow, Reed, Justin Wilson, Pedro Strop, and Carl Edwards Jr. eligible for the spot, and see what shakes loose. All five of those pitchers are capable of being closers, and you can let their production decide.
As for a commitment, Joel Sherman has heard that Reed is likely to wind up with something in the three-year range, though it’s fair to point out that Tim Dierkes (MLB Trade Rumors) predicted that he’d land a four year deal (from the Cubs, as it happens) worth $36M. Give his age, 29 in a couple of weeks, and his track record, that’s actually pretty stomachable.
But there’s always the risk – especially when you’re bidding against a divisional rival – for the deal to get out of whack quickly. If both sides are bidding each other up, one of the teams might end up with a deal they don’t actually love and that’s something you have to be careful of. (And, of course, when rivals show up in rumors like this, you can always question just how much of the interest is genuine in the first place. Oh, also: it’s not like the Cubs and Cardinals are the only teams interested in Reed.)
All things considered, landing Reed would really solidify the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen and even give it a shot at greatness, depending on the seasons of Wilson and Edwards. Stay tuned, because things happen quickly this week, and Reed could be among the next dominoes to fall.
Agents predicting a run on relievers now. Lots of good ones to go: reed, shaw, neshek, kintzler, cishek, nicasio, swarzak, watson, hunter, belisle, oh, perez, mcgee, and of course davis and holland.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2017