During the Rule 5 Draft? Come on, guys. I was trying to track things …
#Cubs in agreement with free-agent right-hander Steve Cishek, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2017
We will have much more as the details on the deal come out, and once it’s finalized. [SEE UPDATE BELOW, and our deeper dive on Cishek here]
Cishek, 31, has had an up-and-down big league career, from absurdly high highs with the Marlins in 2013 and 2014 (combined 3.4 WAR), to the lows of significant struggles at times near the end of his tenure with the Marlins, and then as he transitioned to the Mariners.
Thing is, those struggles may have been tied to a hip issue that he corrected with surgery before the 2017 season. And, what do you know, he posted a 2.01 ERA over 44.2 innings in 2017. His walk and strikeout rates were only slightly better than league average, but his soft contact rate (22.4%) and hard contact rate (23.3%) were both sublime, and he got groundballs at a whopping 56.1% clip.
He also spent the second half of 2017 pitching even more lights out (1.09 ERA, 2.14 FIP) with the Rays, and now-Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey.
I really like this addition, and I wouldn’t say it closes the book on other bullpen additions – though the Cubs are nicely covered now. More
soon right here.
UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick reports the terms on the deal:
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 14, 2017
So, Cishek gets a little less than most of the pitchers in this tier have been getting (we’ve seen a ton of two-year deals in the $8 to $9 million annual range), which is I guess tied to the fact that he had the hip surgery? Or that he doesn’t have elite strikeout totals (he’s around average for relievers) or a tiny walk rate (he’s slightly better than average)? I know that contact-manager types are not your favorite in the late innings, but Cishek has been pulling it off for a while.
I like this deal for the Cubs. My guess is that “range” in there is tied to some bonuses or escalators.