Chicago Cubs: Adding Brandon Morrow a high-risk, high-reward move
According to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs added one of the market’s most valuable relievers Sunday, signing Brandon Morrow to a two-year contract.
The Chicago Cubs have reportedly added right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow to add depth to their bullpen. Morrow, 33, had career year as a late-inning weapon last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 45 games he pitched to a 2.06 ERA, 1.55 FIP, 0.916 WHIP with 50 strikeouts against nine walks. He pitched 4.2 scoreless innings in the NLCS last year against the Cubs.
Morrow only had three save opportunities last year, considering the Dodgers have had Kenley Jansen as their closer. But he has pitched in high-leverage situations and his exact role will probably be determined depending on what other bullpen moves are made. Either way he has the potential to be a very valuable asset in the Cubs pen.
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Jon Heyman reports the deal to be around $10-$11 million a year. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports it is a two-year deal with an option for a third.
Taking a chance
Morrow is an interesting case. He is going to be 34 later this year and is just coming off a career year. He had been a starter primarily from 2010-2014 and pitched to a 4.40 ERA and 1.346 WHIP in 103 starts during those four years. He has not made a start since 2015.
It is worth noting that he has had some injury problems in recent years. He played in 46 total games from 2013-2016 between the Padres and Blue Jays as he battled shoulder problems. He did not play in his first game last year until late May.
He still made the most of his time. Last year he was mainly a fastball, cutter and slider pitcher. He throws hard as his fastball sits in the upper 90s with his slider in the upper 80s. His command was spot on last year with just a 5.3 walk rate.
This is a signing that has tons of potential upside. It is always risky going after a veteran over 30 that had a career year, but if Morrow can do what he did last year and the 18 games he pitched in 2016 (1.69 ERA) then that would be huge for the Cubs.
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Keep expecting the Cubs to make more moves for pitching. They still need multiple relievers and the fifth spot in the rotation remains vacant for the time being. Multiple reports indicated Chicago was pushing hard for Alex Cobb this weekend, but no deal has yet taken shape.