The Chicago Cubs added more pitching depth Wednesday, trading for southpaw Rex Brothers of the Colorado Rockies.
From the Cubs’ side of things, you have to love this deal.
They gave up next-to-nothing in minor league left-hander Wander Cabrera, who showed plenty of promise in Rookie-level ball this year, but wasn’t near breaking the big league club anytime soon.
In return, Chicago acquired a quality bullpen piece in Brothers, who was designated for assignment by Colorado last week. He made 17 appearances last season for the Rockies, pitching to a sterling 1.74 earned run average across his 10 1/3 innings of work.
Just two years ago, the Rockies appeared to have one of the best southpaw relievers in the game when their former first-round pick broke out in a big way, posting a 1.74 ERA 72 appearances, averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine for the third-straight season.
However, consistency became an issue, as Brothers struggled badly (1.846 WHIP, 4.98 FIP) in the 2014 campaign. More importantly, control issues plagued the lefty – a trend that continued throughout the ’15 season, as well.
Per MLB Trade Rumors, Brothers issued more than one free pass per inning over his last 42 1/3 innings at Triple-A this year, although his strikeout total (61) was impressive. Again, this looks like another project for pitching coach Chris Bosio, who will attempt to remedy whatever mechanical issues are impacting a once-promising bullpen piece.
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If he can figure things out, Brothers can be controlled through the 2018 campaign at a relatively low cost – a key for a Cubs’ franchise that continues to be mindful of how it spends its baseball operations budget.
Cabrera, meanwhile, just turned 18 earlier this year. He impressed in his first stint of professional ball this season, pitching to a solid 2.74 ERA and 1.250 WHIP across 42 1/3 innings of work. He showed an affinity for the strikeout, as well, averaging 10 punchouts per nine innings pitched.
Looking at the Chicago Cubs’ returning pieces, it makes a lot of sense why the front office felt the need to add a left-handed reliever. Travis Wood and Clayton Richard, both of whom serve primarily as long men, were the only lefties returning in 2016 – so the addition of Brothers gives the team an impact late-inning arm from the left side.