On February 11, Chicago Cubs’ pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Mesa, Arizona in preparation for the 2020 season. There’s a new-look bullpen that is missing several familiar faces.
We are several weeks away until social media is nothing but Chicago Cubs doing their workouts ahead of spring training. Soon after, the fun will begin and we can finally get our fill of Cubs baseball.
Until then, other topics will continue to be discussed aside from Kris Bryant and whether or not Chicago has any plans on bringing back outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Someone who thrived during the second half, quickly becoming a fan favorite in his short time with the Cubs.
Now, fans are hoping and wishing for some sort of miracle that would allow this team to sign Castellanos for several years. On the other hand, questions within this bullpen remain unanswered per usual.
To follow up on the setback regarding Brandon Morrow‘s (re-signed minor league deal this offseason) injury and bullpen woes, Theo Epstein went out and signed free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel inked a three-year, $43 million deal with the Cubs, bringing some relief to fans who grew frustrated with the bullpens situation.
However, he would end the year 0-4 with an ERA of 6.35 and 13 saves in under 25 appearances. Granted, there was a brief trip to the IL due to some knee inflammation which is never fun to deal with in the first place.
Entering the new campaign, Kimbrel has his sights set on returning to the closer he once was. A two-time reliever of the year and 4x saves leader, there’s plenty of promise for him to do exactly that.
When reviewing the current roster, there isn’t much depth following the departures of Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, and Pedro Strop. Cishek signed with the White Sox, while Kintzler and Strop remain free agents.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith via Twitter, Strop has several offers on the table while the Cubs remain interested in his services. Unfortunately for us, an updated report stating that the Pedro Strop sweepstakes have come down Miami and Texas has been posted on Twitter as well
Chicago traded for Strop and Jake Arrieta from Baltimore in 2013, finding themselves two arms who helped guide them to a World Series title. Pedro, 34, had his roughest year as a Cubs reliever, ending with an ERA of 4.97 in 2019. Through 41 1/2 innings of work, Strop surrendered 23/24 earned runs while recording a 49/22 K/BB ratio.
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His 49 strikeouts last year were his lowest as a Cub with his highest being 81 in 2015. Could this be another work similar to Dexter Fowler prior to the 2016 campaign when a report had him signing with the Baltimore Orioles?
If so, it’ll have to be cheaper than the 2-year, $11 million contract that he had inked since the Cubs signed a few relievers to non-guaranteed deals this offseason. Nothing is really set in stone until someone signs the dotted line.