It is an unassailable fact that there are free agent relievers.
It is a fact assailable only by contrarians that some of the remaining free agent relievers are useful.
It is a powerfully strong opinion – akin to the power in Sammy Sosa’s 1998 biceps – that the 2019 Chicago Cubs could really, really use another useful reliever or two.
It is a strange and frustrating rumor that the 2019 Chicago Cubs cannot presently afford to add another useful reliever without first moving salary.
Do with those statements what you will. It all makes me grumble. In the meantime, it is January 9, and thanks to a robust market and a slow free agency, despite having not added a single Major League reliever this offseason, the Cubs still have a host of useful options available to them for only money if they can find some in the couch cushions.
Although we’ve heard of the Cubs being connected here and there to guys like Brad Brach, Jake Diekman, Greg Holland, and Adam Warren, what does the rest of the free agent crop still look like? Well, a good read on that front from MLBTR:
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) January 9, 2019
Given how needy the Cubs are, even setting aside the top remaining guys (Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino), and the four mentioned above, I can see upwards of a dozen guys I’d be perfectly content to see the Cubs bring into the mix, ranging from bounce-back types to consistent but low-upside types: Cody Allen, Ryan Madson, David Phelps, Justin Wilson (yes, Justin Wilson), Jorge De La Rosa, Sergio Romo, Brad Boxberger, Oliver Perez, Xavier Cedeno, Tony Sipp, Dan Jennings, Shawn Kelley, Tyler Clippard, etc.
Heck, some of those guys will very likely wind up signing minor league deals eventually, and if you were an agent advising them about some of the best situations where you’d have a real shot to make the pen on a contender? It’s Cubs Cubs Cubs Cubs Cubs.
There is also still the trade market out there, where the Cubs could try to trade for controlled relievers (a market so theoretically massive and unpredictable that I, well, I can’t really predict anything).
So the Cubs *will* get some guy(s). There’s no question about it. But man, I’d feel more confident if I didn’t have to keep posting the terrifying reality of where things stand in the bullpen right now on the 40-man roster:
- Brandon Morrow (34, elbow surgery in November, likely to miss at least April)
- Pedro Strop (33, season ended with a hamstring injury)
- Carl Edwards Jr. (27, erratic season in performance, had a shoulder injury and a forearm injury)
- Steve Cishek (32, wore down late in the year after heavy usage)
- Mike Montgomery (29, might be needed in the rotation, was quietly fairly poor as a reliever last year)
- Brandon Kintzler (34, was terrible with the Cubs, is an aging high-contact pitcher)
- Tyler Chatwood (29, lost all semblance of control last year)
- Brian Duensing (35, was terrible and injured last year)
- Randy Rosario (24, scary peripherals all year)
- Kyle Ryan (27, was good at AAA last year but did not earn call-up)
- Dillon Maples (26, so much talent but hasn’t shown big league command)
- James Norwood (25, good stuff but not established)
- Rowan Wick (26, decent minor league production but not established)