Chicago Cubs Sign Hard-Throwing Lefty Ryan Borucki to a Minor League Deal

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Chicago Cubs Sign Hard-Throwing Lefty Ryan Borucki to a Minor League Deal

Chicago Cubs

These signings have been fewer and further between this year, as the Chicago Cubs have developed so many young arms internally now, but they will always always always still want to take some no-risk swings on pitchers in minor league free agency.

The latest is hard-throwing lefty Ryan Borucki, according to Robert Murray:

Borucki, 28, was an up-down starting pitcher for the Blue Jays for a number of years before a conversion to the bullpen in 2020. The 6’4″, 210 pound reliever is a big dude who tops 95 mph consistently with his sinker. No doubt the Cubs want an infusion of possible velocity from the left-handed side, and given that Brandon Hughes is the only sure-fire lefty reliever in the big league mix right now, this is as good a place as any for Borucki to try to break out. Other lefty options the Cubs have brought in so far this offseason include Anthony Kay (waiver claim) and Tim Stout (minor league signing).

Borucki actually had the look of a quality big league starter back in 2018 (3.87 ERA, 3.80 FIP) as a soft-tossing contact-manager, but when when he was moved to the bullpen, his fastball jumped over three MPH, and it seems clear that the Blue Jays and then the Mariners (who traded for him this past May) thought he could be a hard-throwing, late-inning, set-up-type reliever. And he did see a leap in his strikeout rate – the slider gets a ton of whiffs – but it wasn’t enough, from an overall performance perspective, to have him stick around once he was out of minor league options and was arbitration-eligible.

That is all to say, I bet there was a little competition to land Borucki on a minor league deal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if – in addition to the clear opportunity for a lefty reliever to make the team – the Cubs’ success in working with guys like Borucki to help get them on track was a big part of landing him.

There is an open health question, as Borucki’s season ended in August with a forearm strain. I assume, since the Cubs are signing him, that there was no surgical component there, and he’s rested up and ready for Spring Training.

Borucki will come to Spring Training to compete for a bullpen job, though the bullpen limit of eight pitchers, plus the overall volume of options the Cubs have available, could squeeze him out initially, even if he’s looking good. I tend to think the Cubs are going to want to work with him for a little while anyway, so he strikes me as the type who’ll initially go to Triple-A Iowa, work in-game on whatever he and the Cubs have planned, and then they’ll see where things stand – with him, with the big league bullpen, and with any health questions – come May.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.