Chicago Cubs: Hector Rondon
It seems like ages ago that Hector Rondon pitched for the Chicago Cubs, but it’s only been two years, as the Cubs non-tendered him following the 2017 season. He had a great run as the Cubs’ closer, including a dominant 2015 season in which he earned 30 saves and posted a 1.67 ERA. His performance out of the bullpen in the middle of the decade earned him the #12 spot on our list of greatest Cubs of the 2010s.
Over the last two seasons, the right-hander has been pitching out of the Houston Astros bullpen, posting a solid 3.46 ERA in 119 2/3 innings pitched. He did earn 15 saves in 2018 but has served mainly in middle relief. Rondon was still effective in 2019 despite the fact that his strikeout ratio fell from 10.2 per nine innings in 2018 to just 7.1 in 2019, the lowest of his career.
There’s no question that the Cubs need to add to their bullpen before the season starts. My first preference would be to re-sign Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek from last year, along with an incentive-laden deal for bounceback candidate Pedro Strop. Yet there’s no way the Cubs will be able to sign all three, and given their lack of spending this offseason, it will be a surprise if they even retain one of them.
If they do want to pursue some lower-cost veteran middle relief options, Rondon is a name the Cubs should consider. He figures to come cheaper than would the likes of Kintzler and Cishek, along with Rondon’s Houston teammate Will Harris, and he has experience closing in case Craig Kimbrel falters again.