Former Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. signs with Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

From 2016-2018, Carl Edwards Jr. played a pivotal role in Joe Maddon’s bullpen – making 167 appearances and working to a 3.03 ERA / 3.12 FIP. But since the Cubs traded him halfway through the 2019 campaign, the lanky right-hander has failed to find any sort of success at all. Now, after inking a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, he’ll look to get back on track in 2022.

The deal reunites him with former Chicago bench coach Dave Martinez, the Nationals’ manager. Maybe that familiarity will help Edwards rediscover what once made him so effective. After all, he’s still just 30 – so there’s reason to believe he’s got more left in the tank.

Last season, he made one appearance with the World Series champion Braves, although it was an unmitigated disaster. He allowed three runs on three hits and one walk while recording just one out. He wound up catching on with the Blue Jays late in the year, but things didn’t go much better for him there in a half-dozen appearances. An oblique injury sidelined him from there and after signing a minor league deal with the White Sox, he never got a chance to pitch for the big league club.

So now, it’s off to Washington, a team that really struggled in the bullpen in 2021. Nationals relievers ranked 29th in the league with a 5.10 ERA and 27th in WHIP last season. In other words, the opportunity is certainly there for Edwards Jr. to force his way into the picture as Martinez and his coaching staff look for answers in the late innings.

Circling back to his time in Chicago – he was a favorite for Maddon – and, at times, looked like he was going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Control issues were always a concern, but when you were punching out anywhere between 11-13 batters per nine, it’s easy to look past the free passes.

During the team’s 2016 World Series run, Edwards limited opponents to a .123 average in the regular season, striking out an otherworldly 37.7 percent of batters he faced. In October, he posted five scoreless appearances between the NLDS and NLCS, and, of course, got two of the final three outs in Game 7 of the Fall Classic before giving way to Mike Montgomery.

Next. Cubs need to think carefully about Carlos Correa. dark

Here’s to hoping the righty can get it figured out in 2022. If he can stay healthy, this could be the chance he needs to get things back on track in his career.