Something something money is tight something something I’m tired of talking about it something.
OK, so here’s more on the Cubs’ money situation. WAIT. No. STOP. NOT THAT. But there are some names in here, at least:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) December 12, 2018
For now, the lower tier of the reliever market that the Cubs have been exploring includes a trio of buy-low arms, according to Bruce Levine:
Brad Brach, RHP, 32 – A formerly very good later-inning reliever with the Orioles, Brach came up in rumors last year as a potential trade target for the Cubs. Although he was *excellent* in 2015 and 2016, he’s regressed to merely “OK, fine, passable” the last couple years. Concerningly, every peripheral you’d want to monitor took a big step back for him last year with the exception of his groundball rate, which is not elite in any case (46.0%). The results were still pretty good (his 3.59 ERA was about 16% better than league average), but you just worry about the trends as he heads toward his mid-30s. Worth a shot in your bullpen at a low cost? Sure. More than that? Don’t bank your offseason on it.
Jake Diekman, LHP, 31 – Another rumored Cubs trade target at one time, Diekman is coming off a mixed season where he was fine with the Rangers and then miserable after a trade to the Diamondbacks. Prior to last year, Diekman was basically “a guy.” Worthwhile to have in middle relief in the bullpen, making up for an elevated walk rate with a decent strikeout rate. He got KILLED by fellow lefties last year, but is more split neutral for his career. Again, this is a guy you might sign on a very, very low cost deal and give a shot, but he’s far from a sure thing to solidify your bullpen.
Bud Norris, RHP, 33 – Having reinvented himself as a sometimes-excellent reliever in the last two years, Norris could be plenty solid in middle relief for the Cubs. But he was also the subject of reports last year about mercilessly riding his younger teammates in the Cardinals bullpen, and didn’t come off like a guy you’d want to add to your group. He also previously said some really ignorant bullcrap about the “culture” of baseball being America’s game, and deriding the “antics” of some Latino players. Pass. Hard pass.
UPDATE on Norris – Good, good:
Cubs confirm they are not checking in on Bud Norris on free agent market.
They are looking at relievers, but Norris not in that group.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) December 12, 2018
I will say two things right here:
- These are not the guys you’d most want the Cubs to be pursuing in this very robust free agent relief market.
- This front office and pitching infrastructure has done an excellent job at targeting this tier of reliever and getting surprisingly good results out of them.
That is to say, these names are completely and totally underwhelming. But as part of a bullpen overhaul effort this offseason? OK. This front office can have the benefit of the doubt by me (at least with respect to Brach and Diekman, and other guys in that tier that the front office may target).