Chicago Cubs: A look at the current state of the bullpen

Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images
Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images /
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(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Cubs have brought in plenty of low-risk high-reward relievers this offseason.

The hiring of Jon ‘Boog’ Sciambi as the new play-by-play announcer is arguably the biggest name the Cubs have brought in this offseason. Many people have looked past the bullpen arms the team has been stockpiling. That’s rightfully so, as it remains to be seen how these arms will pan out next season.

Hoyer has signed the following relievers to minor league deals. Other than Joe Biagini, the majority have appeared in just a handful of games in recent years.

Minor League Reliever Signings (Career Statistics)

  • RHP Joe Biagini (30) (221 games) 5.07 ERA 1.480 WHIP
  • RHP Trevor Kelley (27) (14 games) 9.26 ERA 1.971 WHIP
  • RHP James Borque (27) (7 games) 13.50 ERA 2.786 WHIP
  • RHP Jake Jewell (27) (21 games) 6.99 ERA 1.367 WHIP
  • LHP Jerry Vatso (28) (6 games) 8.31 ERA 1.846 WHIP
  • RHP DJ Snelton (28) (4 games) 10.38 ERA 2.769 WHIP

The Cubs also added a couple of relievers, who are better known around the league, Robert Stock and Jonathan Holder.

Stock was claimed off waivers after running out of minor league options. The 31-year-old righty can easily throw his average fastball in the high-90s. Last season Stock posted a 4.73 ERA and 1.950 WHIP in 10 games for the Red Sox.

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Coming over from the Yankees is Holder, a 27-year-old right-hander. Like Stock, Holder has some upside, and there is a good chance the Cubs could get the most out of this once-promising reliever. Holder had a few solid years in New York with his best coming in 2018 (3.14 ERA 1.091 WHIP) but struggled in the previous two seasons. Last summer Holder posted a 4.98 ERA and 1.662 WHIP in 18 games.

An interesting addition comes in the form of Rule 5 Draft pick Gary Fenter. The 25-year-old right-hander has yet to make his big league debut, and last pitched in 2019 for the Single-A affiliate of the Orioles, the Delmarva Shorebirds. Fenter dominated the South Shore League that season with a 1.81 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 11.9 K/9 in 22 games.

The most recent bullpen addition comes in the form of left-hander Adam Morgan who was signed to a minor league contract on Sunday. The 30-year-old has spent all six of his major league seasons with the Phillies, and is coming off flexor tendon surgery from October. Last summer Morgan posted a 5.54 ERA and 1.538 in 17 games. Fun fact: Morgan was the pitcher who gave up the walk-off grand slam to Jason Heyward in 2018.

All these pitchers have one thing in common: they’re low-risk, high-reward. It’s not like the Cubs need every one of them to turn their careers around this upcoming season. The idea is to have at least one or two of these low-budget relievers used as reliable weapons in 2021. It might not be the best on paper, but the Cubs already have a solid bullpen foundation to build on.