Brandon Morrow’s agent certainly hinted strongly at a return to the Cubs on a make-good kind of minor league deal, and Theo Epstein seemed very open to the idea, so it’s no surprise that it’s extremely likely to happen.
Look for a deal at the end of the month (that’s pretty common for minor league deals for various logistical reasons):
The Chicago Cubs working with relief specialist Brandon Morrow on coming back. It would be a minor league deal . Most likely end of December conclusion .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 6, 2019
Morrow, 35, went on the shelf in mid-2018 after a great first-half with the Cubs, and hasn’t pitched since. He’s dealt with a stress reaction, biceps issues, a nerve problem, and multiple surgeries/procedures to try to get things right. He had one more procedure in September, from which he’s now recovering, to try to address ongoing nerve issues.
And that’s all after a career that was full of all that same kind of stuff: tantalizingly good performances cut short by injuries and surgeries. I don’t doubt that, when he’s fully healthy, even at 35, he can still be a dominating reliever. But given the track record and the challenge of overcoming injuries fully the older you get, I’m pretty dubious he can actually come back this time. Hence, it’s a minor league deal or nothing.
Previous quotes on the subject:
- “I don’t believe Brandon would sign with anyone else until the Cubs decide what they want to do,” Morrow’s agent Joel Wolfe told the Sun-Times. “The Cubs invested a lot of time into Brandon, and money, of course, and Brandon feels a certain sense of loyalty and obligation back to the Cubs to stay with them if they want him on a minor-league contract or something like that. He signed with the Cubs because he thought they were the best organization out there for him, and he still believes that.”
- “When healthy, he can certainly be a big part of the solution,” Epstein said of Morrow, per Cubs.com. “We appreciate his sentiments about, if he’s going to sign a Minor League deal, he feels there’s a responsibility that it should be here. That certainly seems like the type of thing that should make sense for both sides down the road.”
If Morrow can actually throw somewhat normally in the run-up to Spring Training, he’s probably going to be there with the Cubs. But there is still a long way between here and there, and then there’s an even longer way between Spring Training bullpen sessions and pitching in big league games – as we know all too well from last year. Keep him on the club for Spring Training, expect nothing. That’s fine by me.