I won’t spend another post belaboring the Cubs’ extraordinary needs in the bullpen, but I don’t think it hurts to stop highlighting how scary things look right now among the guys currently under control as possible relievers on the 40-man roster:
- Brandon Morrow – Missed the second half, had surgery, probably won’t be ready for Opening Day
- Pedro Strop – Finished the season injured, is awesome, turns 34 next year
- Steve Cishek – Wore down in the second half due to heavy usage
- Carl Edwards Jr. – Totally lost his command in the second half, finished the season injured
- Brian Duensing – Totally lost it last year, was also periodically injured
- Mike Montgomery – May be needed as sixth starter, had a 5.13 ERA and 4.30 FIP as a reliever last year
- Randy Rosario – OK results, terrifying peripherals
- Brandon Kintzler – Solid and serviceable for years, but completely fell apart with the Cubs
- Dillon Maples – Jaw-dropping stuff, jaw-closing command
- James Norwood – Good stuff, not established
- Alec Mills – Could be solid, not established
- Tyler Chatwood – Yeah, he’s here technically
- Kyle Ryan – Has done it in the past in the big leagues, but never got the call last year
- Rowan Wick – Great name, but not big-league established
I mean. My God, right?
So then, it’s no surprise to see Gordon Wittenmyer report that the Cubs are looking for not one but two established relievers this offseason. They are not expected to be “high-end” relievers, but that doesn’t necessarily bother me given the market.
Just look at the free agent list at MLB Trade Rumors and you can immediately see 10 to 20 non-high-end relievers that you’d be perfectly happy to see the Cubs add to the bullpen. This is an especially great market for the Cubs to wait things out, let the top guys sign huge contracts, and then they can sit back and make some cost-effective additions among the next tier of guys that they’ve scouted and prefer.
Relievers are just so flukey in any case that it doesn’t bother me to see the Cubs taking this approach for this particular need. I’d rather see volume anyway. Heck, I’d like to see them able to add not only two established guys on big league deals, but also a couple really good guys on minor league deals (because, unfortunately for the players, that’s going to happen when the market is this crowded).