Cubs Reportedly Sign Reliever Shae Simmons to Split Major/Minor-League Deal

The Cubs have added another arm to the 2018 bullpen picture, this time in the form of right-hander Shae Simmons:

Simmons, 27, was originally drafted by the Braves in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft and spent the first five years of his career in that system as a reliever. He eventually made his Major League debut in 2014, and had a TON of success right off the bat: in his first 21.2 Major League innings that season, he worked a 2.91 ERA (3.13 FIP), thanks to a solid 25.8% strikeout rate, 52.8% ground ball rate, plenty of soft contact, and less than average hard contact allowed.

After the season, Simmons was ranked the best reliever in the Southern League for 2014, and was the Braves’ 13th best prospect according to Baseball America.

Unfortunately, he hit the disabled list at the end of July with shoulder soreness and never really came back that season. And then things got worse, as, before the 2015 season, he found out he had a UCL tear and needed to undergo Tommy John surgery. Naturally, he missed the entire season.

Simmons worked his way back to the Majors in 2016, but managed to record just 6.2 innings of relief at the end of the year (though, to be fair they were really good innings: 1.35 ERA, 2.25 FIP). That offseason, he was traded, along with Mallex Smith, to the Mariners, where he once again spent some a significant amount of time injured, before ramping up in Triple-A in July and August. Eventually, he made it back to the Majors (again in September) and managed just 7.2 innings of relief, though he was still throwing 96 mph, so that’s a good sign. He struck out eight in those seven innings, but also allowed four walks, four hits, six runs and a dinger.

The Mariners non-tendered Simmons back in December rather than offer what he would have made in his first year of arbitration, which brings us to today.

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Simmons signed a split Major/Minor league deal wherein he’ll earn $750,000 if and when he’s at the big league level, and, if not, he’ll get a better-than-typical minor league rate. Given his youth and upside, this is actually one of the more interesting flyer-additions the Cubs have made all winter. Bonus: with under four years of service time right now, if he turns things back around, the Cubs will have multiple years of control via arbitration.

For now, Simmons will head to Spring Training and join the group of relievers (Dario Alvarez, Anthony Bass, Justin Grimm, Dillon Maples, Randy Rosario, Kyle Ryan) vying for that potentially open eighth spot in the bullpen (check out Brett’s post for a more detailed picture of the pen). Given his pedigree and previous success, I’m really interested to see what he’s got in the tank. If healthy, he gives the Cubs a lot more quality depth, and could even be a huge boost to the pen. Simmons is still only 27, which – for one other example in the bullpen picture – is two years younger than Grimm.

At a minimum, the Cubs can hang onto Simmons at AAA Iowa until he’s needed, at which point the Cubs can shuffle him up into the big league bullpen. [Brett: I *believe* he’s got one minor league option year left (it looks like he’s used up three, but it also looks like he qualifies for a fourth option year).]

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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