When the tale of the 2017 Chicago Cubs postseason is written, bullpens will be focus of the story. Not only did the Cubs bullpen turn into a pumpkin at just the wrong time, the Dodgers’ bullpen was downright deadly in the NLCS. They literally did not allow the Cubs to score a single run. Oof.
So, naturally, the Cubs will probably look to improve that aspect of their game heading into 2018, and 670 The Score’s Dan Bernstein might already have some interesting rumors on that front:
— Bernstein & Goff (@Bernstein_Goff) October 25, 2017
You can listen to the full discussion by following the link in that post, but the reliever he’s teasing is none other than the Dodgers’ Brandon Morrow.
You may remember him as the guy who kept dotting the corners with a 98 mph fastball and then wiping Cubs out with a nasty slider, setting up for Kenley Jansen.
Morrow, 33, is a free agent at the end of this season and has an especially good (albeit short) year in 2017: 43.2 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1.55 FIP; 1.6 fWAR. More than that, he PRECISELY fits the bill for the type of reliever Theo Epstein said the Cubs would target (strike-throwers): 29.4 K%, 5.3 BB% in 2017.
In fact, while his strikeout rate spiked for the first time in a while this past season, his walk rate has been below 6.0% for three years running. That’s exactly the type of guy this relatively wild Cubs bullpen could use. And in case you forgot, he pitched in all but one game of the NLCS, going 4.2 IP against the Cubs while allowing no earned runs on just 1 hit, 1 walk, and seven strikeouts. Yeah, he was lights out.
Now, it’s not all good stuff.
Morrow, like I said, is already 33 years old and 2017 was his first solid and healthy season in a while. In fact, he’s dealt with a serious laundry list of injuries throughout his career and his missed time in almost all of his Major League seasons …
2008: Sore shoulder
2009: Right bicep tendinitis, stiff arm
2010: Shut down early to protect his arm
2011: Right forearm inflammation
2012: Left oblique strain (60-Day DL)
2013: Right forearm strain, Entrapped radial nerve
2014: Sprained right index finger, torn tendon sheath in right hand
2015: Right shoulder inflammation/impingement (required season ending surgery)
So finding the right value for a 34-year-old reliever with this sort of injury history – but also this great of a 2017 campaign – isn’t going to be easy. But Bernstein hears the Cubs might try.
Perhaps the wide open back of the Cubs’ bullpen will be particularly enticing to Morrow.
Given that the Cubs are likely NL Central favorites again in 2018 (as of now), a high-risk/high-reward deal like this could make some sense, but, again, the particulars will be tricky. In the coming weeks, once he’s finished playing, Morrow’s/the Cubs’ intentions will become more clear, and we’ll have a better sense of his potential contract demands. But for now, just enjoy your first specific Cubs rumor of the offseason!