Chicago Cubs will need to make a decision on Justin Grimm

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs’ Justin Grimm is a non-tender candidate, and he has to be concerned about his future with the team. Will his arbitration take him to the point of no return for the Cubs?

The Chicago CubsJustin Grimm is in a position that many other Cubs’ relievers are in. Trying to figure out what happened over the course of a year. For Grimm, a quick look at the numbers makes it pretty apparent where the issues lie. The question is as a non-tender candidate, will the Cubs offer him arbitration or just let him walk? That might not be one he can answer on his own. There are several moving parts to this that might affect where he ends up.

Both Grimm and Hector Rondon are non-tender candidates. I would say that they both are on the outside looking in, but the Cubs may believe that the two can contribute to next year’s team. In what capacity is yet to be seen. We’ve often talked about the potential replacement closers for the Cubs, but while Rondon is on that list? He’s not going to be that guy. What about Grimm? He was a seventh and eighth inning guy before he lost that edge.

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So what’s missing?

And what was that edge that Grimm once had? First, Grimm was missing bats. In 2015 he struck out 12.1 per/9, and in 2016 it fell to just 11.1 per/9. Last season it dropped to 9.6 per/9. Still pretty impressive. But when you look at it together with other aspects of his game it all starts to make sense.

Grimm’s walk rate was up slightly to 4.4, but his hits/9 were down to 7.6 from 8.0 the previous year. From 2014-16, Grimm had allowed just 13 home runs. Last season he allowed 12 in only 55 1/3 innings.

After being an effective reliever for the Cubs for the last three seasons, it was gone. He saw his WAR drop to a -0.4, the first time he was less than zero since his 2013 season with the Texas Rangers. Back then, he was still starting.

Where’s the curve?

Grimm has shown an inability in the last year to get the break on his curve that he had once before. That’s been his out pitch since he came to Chicago. Now, with the break not there, hitters are sitting on his fastball. And it’s not been good. So can Grimm get back to what he was, or at least a serviceable pitcher out of the pen?

I’ve always been a fan of Grimm. But at some point, you have to look at what he’s done for you lately. The variables in all this? The Cubs have names like Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson on the tongue, among others. If the Cubs were to get just one of those big names out there, Grimm’s time in Chicago might be over.

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The turnover we see in the bullpen will either signal the end for Grimm or give him one more (how many has it been now?) chance. I’m already aware of what most fans think. And an arbitration raise won’t get people behind Grimm any more than they already are. I’d love to see him get a chance in spring training to right the ship. But unless he’s non-tendered and comes back as a non-roster invitee, it might be time for Grimm to move on.