Lefty reliever Brian Duensing is back with the Cubs, officially. The team announced the two-year deal today, which is reportedly for $7 million. Duensing’s addition puts the 40-man roster at 39.
Getting Duensing back into the bullpen mix gives the Cubs another versatile arm, who can pitch in a match-up role or a full inning role, who stays in the strike zone, and who broke out in a big way last year.
The 34-year-old lefty whom the Cubs scouted and plucked out of relative obscurity last year for $2 million, Duensing had a tremendously successful 2017 season. Not only did he post a 2.74 ERA (37% better than league average), but he also posted a 7.0% BB rate (trailing only Koji Uehara’s 6.7% on the team), an above-average 23.7% K rate, and nearly identical splits against lefties (.296 wOBA) and righties (.290).
Duensing was one of the Cubs’ best and most consistent relievers in 2017, and he also proved to be one of the better guys, raising funds to benefit childhood cancer research and treatment throughout the year.
As we discussed last week, Duensing’s return also provides the Cubs some cover in the bullpen in case Mike Montgomery winds up in the rotation (and, thus, the signing actually helps the Cubs have a little more comfort in their approach to signing – or not signing – another starting pitcher).
The Cubs moves in the bullpen are very likely now complete (absent some steal of a deal or minor league deal at the end of the offseason), and I like the overall group, even as we’ll always have some trepidation after the departure of Wade Davis. Among the options:
Carl Edwards Jr.
Mike Montgomery (if he’s not in the rotation)