Chicago Cubs: Relief pitcher market beginning to thin out

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Remaining free agency options

There are still several guys on the market. Two of the biggest relievers? Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel. Expect those guys to to earn a fat, multi-year deal. Both are now 30+ and still putting up good numbers for the most part.

Kimbrel sported a 2.74 ERA, 3.13 FIP and 13.9 K/9 with 42 saves in 2018. Britton. on the other hand, sported a 4.22 FIP and 1.23 WHIP despite a 3.10 ERA, so there is fear of steady decline with him, especially with recent injury issues. He’s clearly not the same guy he was just a few years ago.

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Right now, whether one may believe they need them badly or not, it is hard to see the Cubs shelling out a ton of money for either of these guys. Epstein may surprise the fan base but that seems unlikely.

Some of the safest bets on the market left are Adam Ottavino, who could come back to earth a bit after a career year in 2018 and Cody Allen, and even he is semi-questionable after a down year last year. Other guys like Kelvin Herrera, A.J. Ramos and Ryan Madson either struggled mightily last year or had season-ending surgery.

With all of this being said, it is worth noting that Epstein has found gold in a lot of rejected/older arms over the years, including guys like Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, Fernando Rodney,  Jesse Chavez and Jorge De La Rosa.

The Cubs will probably bring in a few more veteran arms via free agency, and there are plenty of arms available not mentioned here. However, they still need more reliable guys and not just “low risk-high reward” signings.