Chicago Cubs: Reliever Shae Simmons is Epstein’s latest under-the-radar signing

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Shae Simmons
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16: Shae Simmons /

On Friday, the Chicago Cubs signed right-handed relief pitcher Shae Simmons. He is the latest buy-low option who could become something for Theo Epstein.

This one isn’t going to break the Internet by any means, but the Chicago Cubs may have found another diamond in the rough in reliever Shae Simmons. Last week, the team signed Simmons to a one-year deal. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, Simmons will be paid $120,000 in the minors and $750,000 if he reaches the majors.

This could be yet another under-the-radar signing from Theo Epstein that eventually pays off in a big way. The Cubs really assume no risk here. So if it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal.

Potential is there

The Atlanta Braves drafted Simmons in 2012 and called him up just two years later in 2014 after success in the minor leagues. He posted a solid 2.91 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Needing Tommy John surgery, Simmons was forced to sit out the 2015 season. The surgery was successful, but nagging injuries after the fact delayed his return to the mound. During the 2017 offseason, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He pitched just 7 2/3 innings with the Mariners, giving up six earned runs along the way.

Fixer uppers

Teams typically shy away from pitchers who struggle to stay healthy. But Simmons is only 27, and again, the Cubs don’t have much invested in him. If Simmons can overcome the injury bug, he could end up being a steal for the Cubs. One thing we’ve learned about Theo Epstein – he loves a reclamation project.

We’ve seen it work before. Brian Duensing was another low-risk, potentially high-reward pitcher who paid dividends for the Cubs. Following two less-than-mediocre seasons, Duensing ended up being one of the Cubs’ most effective relievers.

Pedro Strop was awful with Baltimore in 2013. Then he was traded to the Cubs and immediately become one of their best relievers. He’s quietly posted a 2.72 ERA over five years with the team. Along with Strop in that trade came Jake Arrieta, who was terrible with Baltimore, but became one of the best starters in the league with the Cubs.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

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Is Simmons a sure thing? Far from it. But the point remains, we’ve seen enough struggling players come to the North Side and find their groove to discount the potential with any signing. We might not hear Simmons’ name the rest of the year. Or, he could be a key part of the bullpen in the Fall. Neither scenario would be surprising at this point.