The Cubs have brought in an enormous volume of “yeah, he might break out and be useful”-type relievers, hoping that, with the opportunity to work with guys in the Pitch Lab in the Spring, and then with some meaningful early-season innings to distribute, they can find some nice arms. You certainly wish for a little more in the way of established presences, but this is a route many teams do take successfully.
Among those many arms, there probably isn’t a single guy with a higher upside, nor a higher risk of providing nothing at all, than Brandon Morrow.
Signed to a minor league deal back in December, Morrow hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in a season and a half after a variety of arm issues ended his 2018 campaign mid-year. The has had a couple surgeries since then, and has been rehabbing on and off for a long time. No one should expect a healthy and effective return for Morrow at age 35/36. When he has been able to pitch, of course, he’s been fantastic. So that’s why you dream on the high upside, while, again, expecting nothing at all.
One notable change from last year – Morrow will be up to speed with the rest of the pitchers when Spring Training kicks off:
Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said Brandon Morrow is on target to be on same schedule as rest of pitchers in camp. If he is behind at all, it'll be the Cubs being cautious, not because Morrow is physically behind.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) January 18, 2020
Of course, even if Morrow is 100% this Spring, I’m not so sure the Cubs wouldn’t ramp him up slowly in any case, before letting him return to the big league roster well into the season. That would limit his innings and exposure for the year, and also allow them to be sure he’s actually capable of throw multiple times per week.