Chicago Cubs: There are real question marks in the bullpen

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Get ready for Edwin Jackson, 2.0

Tyler Chatwood pitched so wildly last he has lost his spot in the starting rotation. The question with Chatwood is can he contribute to the Cubs at all in 2019? If one of the starting pitchers misses a start, would the Cubs dare insert Chatwood back into the rotation? Can he be useful in the bullpen?

Chatwood is owed $12.5 million in 2019 and $13 million in 2020. I’m sure the Cubs front office is trying to trade him away. But any trade involving Chatwood is going to either involve the Cubs paying a significant portion of his salary or be a bad contract swap. Aside from a Russell Martin/Chatwood trade I can’t even imagine a deal both the Cubs and another team would be interested in.

That just leaves trading him away and paying a big chunk of his salary. Chatwood’s stuff is so electric that I’m sure there are teams out there that would be willing to take him on as an intriguing resurrection project. But at that point would the Cubs be saving enough money to make it worth trading him away?

In 2015 the Cubs began the season with Edwin Jackson occupying a spot in the bullpen. He too had pitched so badly that he lost his previous spot in the rotation. He also had two very expensive years left on his contract. Despite putting up some reasonable numbers (3.19 ERA, 2.91 FIP) it was obvious the Cubs didn’t trust him with any meaningful innings. Eventually Jackson was released by the team.

Chatwood might suffer a similar fate this coming season as Jackson did in 2015. However, coming into 2015 the Cubs weren’t sure that their competitive window had opened yet. Many experts at the time thought it would be one more year before they could compete for a playoff berth. So the 2015 Cubs could better afford to begin the season with Jackson in the bullpen. I’m not sure this variation of the Cubs can afford to do the same thing.

There is also the possibility that the Cubs hope that Chatwood pitches well enough in Spring Training that they are able to trade him away to a team that suffers an injury to one of their starting pitchers before Opening Day.

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The Cubs bullpen has a lot more question marks than a team that wants to win another World Series would like to have. Perhaps some of these pitchers get traded away before the season begins.

But if the Cubs don’t add to their bullpen this offseason, then these pitchers are going to be among the group of relievers that the Cubs will begin the season with. But it is likely Chicago is going to begin the season with some uncomfortable questions unanswered in the bullpen.