Cubs Substantial Bullpen Options (Both Kinds of “Options”), and Other Cubs Bullets

Not gonna dump on the entire concept of rabbits as a pet, but I will say that the recent adoption of a rabbit for the Taylor household was outside my purview, and this morning he chewed through the power cord to our modem. So. I have thoughts and feelings. (He doesn’t even do tricks … )

•   Big lefty reliever Brad Wieck is on something of a normal ramp-up schedule after being shut down last year due to a cardiac ablation procedure. Thankfully, he’s safe and healthy right now – the guy has dealt with multiple injuries, multiple heart issues, and even testicular cancer – and when he’s right, he can be dominant. He spoke to the Daily Herald about his offseason, which you can read here, and said that he’s still working on getting his timing right: “My timing is still a work in progress after not throwing the ball for a while, but it feels great to be back on the mound. My body and arm feel very good. It’s just a timing issue right now. It takes time to sync up your body. And I’m a big dude, so it’s good to get on the mound and figure out that mound timing.”

•   Sounds fair enough for a 6′ 8″ guy, as getting everything in the delivery on time is probably a little harder for him than for a shorter pitcher. Without that timing, command wavers, and any advantage he might otherwise have thanks to his size disappears. All normal stuff to be working on in January, though. Wieck, 30, threw 17 scoreless innings for the Cubs last year, but is now out of minor league options. So he’s gotta make the team out of Spring Training or be exposed to waivers.

•   Speaking of options and the bullpen, something to tee up – here are the other possible 40-man relievers who are out of minor league options heading into Spring Training: Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills. Yup, that’s it. Every other possible relief option on the 40-man roster has at least one minor league option year remaining. That means the Cubs will have TREMENDOUS flexibility in Spring Training – and throughout the season – to manage the bullpen, and preserve valuable arms in the organization. It also means the Cubs will have a ton of space to add relievers in the second offseason if they find some bargains they can’t pass up.

•   Throw in the facts that the Cubs (1) have been exceptionally good at maximizing reliever performance the last five years, and (2) have a huge volume of young relief arms at the Double-A/Triple-A level, and you should probably be pretty optimistic about the Cubs’ bullpen chances in 2022. It may not look great on paper to the projection systems, but I tend to think it’ll be a very effective group again this year, and the depth could help take some of the pressure off of a rotation that might include a lot of guys who make short starts.

•   We should be getting word on the Cubs’ minor league coaching and development staffs for the season ahead, but here’s an early placement:

•   BE STILL MY HEART:

•   I am #NotAScout, but I suppose I do see a slight dive/hitch at the start of his swing that could be an issue down the road, but overall, that’s a smooth looking swing, especially for a guy who just turned 18 last month. We won’t get game data for him until Complex Ball gets underway this summer, but I do hope we get lots and lots of eyes-on reports from Spring Training.

•   Doesn’t sound like the Cardinals are planning to make Jack Flaherty a big extension offer any time soon. He’s got two more years of team control and has dealt with some injury issues, but the 26-year-old has the potential to be so good in 2022 that his price tag explodes heading into 2023. Either way, his is a story to follow, both for divisional competitive reasons, and because he’d otherwise be a really compelling free agent in a couple years.

•   If you want promo offers for the divisional games this weekend, make sure you check out the ones we’ve got from FanDuel here and here, and from BetMGM here.

•   Pretty cool feature here at Cubs.com on Four Winds Field, home of the High-A South Bend Cubs.

•   There are some stellar eephus pitches in this video:

•   The first Bears GM finalist:

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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