Not much else doing right now for the Chicago Cubs, but they’re sticking to their now-usual route when it comes to the bullpen: find and sign as many “interesting” and “unique” guys as possible.
There’s a new one today, per the Cubs transactions page: righty Trevor Kelley.
As Bryan points out on Twitter, Kelley, 27, is a sidearmer who had the ninth lowest release point in baseball in 2020. So that’s definitely “interesting” and “unique.” The long-time Red Sox farmhand was exceptional in the minors, but hasn’t translated it in the big leagues yet, either in his debut with the Red Sox in 2019, or with the Phillies this past year (both very small samples):
Presumably because of the sidearming style, Kelley succeeded in the minors primarily thanks to crummy contact, together with good control in the zone. But what probably compelled the Red Sox, and then Phillies (who claimed him on waivers), and now the Cubs was his 2019 performance at AAA. The strikeout rate took a big step forward, the walk rate reduced, nobody could hit him for boop, and he was throwing multiple innings in a lot of his outings.
You can see his delivery is unique:
There’s really not much to take away from the tiny big league samples – he got hammered by the Braves in one of his four 2020 outings and that was pretty much the whole line there – so it’s really more of a scouting play by the Cubs. I love the idea of getting a guy who gives batters such a different look, and, like I said, that breakout at AAA in 2019 sure is intriguing. Get him in on a no-risk minor league deal, and see what’s what in Spring Training.
From there, if you want him to be an up-and-down guy, he’s got options remaining.
Kelley joins Robert Stock (waiver claim), Jonathan Holder (big league signing), Gray Fenter (Rule 5 Draft), James Bourque (minor league signing), Jake Jewell (minor league signing), Jerry Vasto (minor league signing), and D.J. Snelten (minor league signing) as new relief arms added to the organization since the offseason began.