I’ve been going through the list of reclamation-type pitchers the Cubs could go after for a few days now, because you KNEW those signings were coming. The no-risk, low-likelihood-of-upside, but-why-not-try types. Cubs have had a lot of success with those arms the last half-decade, and no reason to stop going back to that well. And here’s another one of ’em.
Former Pirates lefty Steven Brault:
Free-agent pitcher Steven Brault closing in on a deal with the Chicago Cubs, according to sources familiar with the situation.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 16, 2022
Just 29, and having been with only one org, Brault is definitely the type the Cubs like to target with their pitching infrastructure. He’s always been good enough to be in the big leagues, but never quite got over that hump into being a deployable regular. He swung in and out of the rotation and bullpen, mostly because he couldn’t stick in the rotation (pretty consistently has been about 10 to 15% worse than league average by ERA- and FIP- in both the starting rotation and in the bullpen). But you saw flashes of the talent when the Cubs faced him. There might be a useful swing man to unlock there, or maybe the right tweak to the mechanics or the pitch mix turns him into a quality reliever.
Brault really only put together a good stretch during the pandemic year, so the sample is too small to really have much confidence. And then he missed most of last season with a lat strain (ironically, the injury that has shelved Adbert Alzolay, and made pitching additions all the more critical). You just don’t know what you have there.
I would tentatively expect that this is a minor league deal, so no real risk there. If it is a big league deal, it would be for a small enough number that not making the team would still be on the table. We’ll dig in more if and when this goes down.
Bonus on Brault? He released an album of Broadway covers during the pandemic. Seriously! I kinda love that.
UPDATE: NBCSC confirms the signing is happening, and that it’s a major league deal. You can safely assume it is low cost – and of note, Brault does have a minor league option year remaining, to the extent that becomes useful.