Remember how the Cubs reported agreed to terms with reliever Brad Brach on January 24, but then a week later, he still hadn’t been officially signed? Remember how we were like, eh, a week, well, that could just be logistics with the physical and the 40-man. Remember how a week became almost three weeks, and it was like, uh, are we sure there’s not an issue?
In situations where the time between a reported signing and an official announcement is THAT long, the first thing you wonder is whether the medical review showed something that led to the sides quietly renegotiating the deal. Sure enough, in Brach’s case, that’s precisely what happened:
Sources: The Cubs restructured Brad Brach's contract after the standard medical review ($1.65 million base salary for this season plus bonuses/2020 options). New details on the Cubs bullpen and what it's like to be a free agent now: https://t.co/erGQqxQvqw
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 4, 2019
As originally reported, Brach, 32, was set to get $3 million in 2019, then there was a 2020 team option worth $6.5 million ($1.35 million buyout), and then there was an alternative player option for some smaller amount. It meant that Brach was guaranteed a minimum of $4.35 million, and the Cubs were going to be paying $9.5 million for two years if they decided they wanted to keep him in 2020.
Now, instead – and I can add a few details to Mooney’s report – Brach receives $1.65 million in 2019, then there is a team option for 2020 worth $5 million ($100,000 buyout). The alternative player option is worth $1.35 million ($100,000 buyout). The “lost” money has been translated to bonuses for when Brach is on the active 25-man roster: $350,000 for one day, $500,000 for 120 days, and $500,000 for 150 days. If Brach is completely healthy, he will therefore still receive the $3 million he was expecting for 2018. If not, he’ll get some amount less than that.
As for *why* the Cubs and Brach worked things down after the medical review, Brach tells Mooney it was due to a viral infection at the time of his physical. It must have been something that left the Cubs concerned he wouldn’t be able to perform at his normal level this year.
To that end, we’ll have to keep a close eye on how Brach looks this Spring when he makes it into game action. He was brilliant in the second half with Atlanta, looking more or less like the guy he has been when he was very good in Baltimore. The Cubs very much need that guy in the bullpen, and, given that he was the most significant addition to the bullpen this offseason, they certainly don’t want to see him out there at less than 100%.