As expected, reliever Brandon Morrow is returning to the Chicago Cubs on a minor league deal after injuries and surgeries torpedoed the final year and a half of his tenure with the Cubs on a two-year deal for 2018 and 2019.
Not only is it a minor league deal, it’s one with a very low big league rate and modest incentives:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 13, 2019
So he’ll come to camp to show the Cubs what he’s got left in the tank, and if he makes the big league team at some point, it’s still a extremely low-cost move. And if he doesn’t make the big league team, he’s depth in the minors while he tries to put it together. No real risk here.
But there’s also only a very tiny chance Morrow actually contributes in 2020, and all should be prepared for that (including the Cubs). There can’t be any commentary out there from the team that Morrow is being brought back as an important part of the bullpen. Certainly hope that happens, because when he’s been healthy, he’s been lights out … but you absolutely cannot plan on it, even like 10% of the way.
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. Jesse Rogers reports Morrow is currently “feeling great.”
Those injuries with the Cubs came 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, he gets the no-risk, low-cost minor league deal. Best of luck to him in the continued rehab, and it’ll at least be interesting to see what he looks like in the Spring. Some team was going to take a chance on him. Might as well be the Cubs.