Do we count this as another Chicago Cubs pitching injury? It kinda feels like it, given the expected needs for depth.
Unfortunately, lefty Steven Brault has suffered some kind of “injury setback,” and, per Jordan Bastian, his previously-reported Major League deal has been reworked into a minor league deal (with the standard opt-outs). He’ll earn a rate of $1.5 million when he’s in the big leagues (with some potential incentives), but the fact that his deal had to be reworked into a minor league deal is a pretty significant thing. You don’t see that happening too often. It makes me think he’s a long way from being ready for the season.
As for what the injury is, we currently have no idea (SEE UPDATE BELOW). Brault had a lat injury earlier in the year in 2021, but came back from it. I’m not immediately aware of any other injury he had this offseason, the recovery from which he could suffer a “setback.” So maybe it’s the lat again? Maybe it’s something new that hit him early in the offseason, and he was recovering from it (known to the Cubs?), but then he had a setback (unknown to the Cubs, and then discovered/discussed during the physical?). No idea. Again, it’s just really unusual to see a deal reworked like this, and it’s a bummer that it means the Cubs may have missed out on a different option when the flurry of signings was happening. (At least they were able to later get lefties Daniel Norris and Drew Smyly.)
Ultimately, I hope we do find out more about this, because while Brault was not necessarily a great bet to be an impact contributor this year, he is the kind of guy the Cubs have had success reclaiming, and I kinda want to know what they’re working with. Plus, the Cubs are just gonna need innings, especially early on, like every team.
So I’m counting this as another injured Cubs arm until we hear more. Codi Heuer, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Steven Brault.
UPDATE: Now we know more:
LHP Steven Brault says his #Cubs deal went from MLB contract to minor-league contract because an MRI during his physical showed a triceps issue.
Brault won't be able to throw for a couple weeks but doesn't expect an "extra long" process. He felt something the day before physical
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 22, 2022
While it’s good that Brault isn’t too worried, an MRI showing a triceps issue isn’t nothing. All of those areas that connect to the elbow can wind up bigger problems than initially presented, and this one seemed like enough to justify Brault accepting a minor league deal with the Cubs rather than head back out into free agency to try to get a guaranteed big league deal elsewhere. The timing absolutely sucks for him, without question.
Hopefully he’ll rest up, rehab, and be available within a couple months should there be a big league need. Otherwise, he could be at Iowa until that need develops, or until he hits an opt-out opportunity and sees the chance for a big league gig elsewhere.