Chicago Cubs have options aplenty role for closer’s role in 2022

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

When former Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel went crosstown to the White Sox, the search began for a replacement. Many young candidates were available: Manuel Rodriguez with his big arm and seeming lack of concern over bad pitches, Tommy Nance who burst upon the scene from nowhere with a solid 95 MPH fastball, Keegan Thompson, Adam Morgan, the list goes on.

Emerging from the carnage of the trade deadline, Rowan Wick appears to be manager David Ross’ choice as ‘closer du jour’. Despite the plus stuff, though, he hasn’t slammed the door in the way we’d all hoped for – blowing three of seven save opportunities and working to a 4.71 ERA on the year. So what does that mean as the Cubs start to look ahead at the 2022 roster?

Looking at the current mix of Cubs relievers, rookie Scott Effross, a submariner, has 17 strikeouts in just 12 innings and could be a potential fireman. I still believe Rodriguez has the proper attitude for a closer, a short memory, and he has reached 100 MPH with his fastball. Codi Heuer has shown flashes, but has been inconsistent, at times, as well. Wick certainly has the support of the manager for now and he boasts a career 3.60 ERA in 79 games for the Cubs and Padres.

Chicago Cubs: What about closers who are free agents?

The other choice of course is “the closer to be named later”. The 2022 Cubs should have a considerable amount of cash to spread around various free agents. While it seems unlikely that a closer is high on the shopping list, there isn’t a shortage of quality options out on the open market, including Kimbrel himself.

Heading up the list is the Padres’ Mark Melancon, who anchored the San Diego bullpen with 38 saves this year and has a mutual option at $5 million for next year. The Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen is also a free agent and carries a 2.30 ERA and 36 saves on the season. Then there is the most unlikely of grabs, Josh Hader, who will just keep getting pricier and pricier for the Brewers, who could look to unload his salary via trade,

Rounding out the list are: Raul Iglesias (33 SV) from the Angels, Matt Barnes (24 SV) for the Red Sox and Brad Hand who had 21 saves for the woeful Nats, but is now a member of the Mets.

Next. Young arms could provide a path forward for the Cubs. dark

There are a handful of other potentially available late-inning arms out there but whatever happens this winter, Hoyer and Ricketts certainly have some attractive choices to pursue.