A hard-throwing potential late-inning righty out of the bullpen
Ben Brown RHP Iowa Cubs
This one requires a little bit of thinking outside of the box. The Cubs have a legitimate starting pitcher on their hands with Brown and you don’t have to squint to see it. In the past, we’ve gotten excited about Brailyn Marquez or Adbert Alzolay as potential homegrown aces and we’ve seen one become an amazing bullpen option and the other completely fall off the side of the earth in terms of progression.
That being said, Brown has had more success at a higher level than either of them, so why would they consider derailing that progress to put him in the bullpen for a playoff run? Because his stuff is absolutely and unapologetically filthy.
To operate in a relief role in the majors you have to limit hits and you have to be able to get out of tight spots with strikeouts. Ben Brown, even in games where he’s given up as many as six runs (twice) or seven runs (once) has never had a BAA over .242. In his worst outing this season where he only lasted 0.2 innings, he still managed to pick up two strikeouts.
He walks too many people, sure, but that is at least partially due to him working on his third and fourth pitches to build out his repertoire as a starter. If he joined the Cubs he’d likely have at least the second-best breaking ball on the team and his fastball would receive the extra juice that relievers get from pitching in shorter stints.
Would it be great for the Cubs to have a veteran bullpen with playoff experience going into the home stretch? Sure. But would it be awesome to see a team with one of the best starting rotations in baseball be able to hand the ball to a young core of bullpen pieces like Daniel Palencia, Adbert Alzolay, Luke Little, Javier Assad, and Ben Brown with a little bit of veteran presence with Michael Fulmer and Mark Leiter Jr.? Absolutely.
The closest player to this profile that the Cubs could have acquired would have been Jordan Hicks who came with a price tag of two of the top twenty Toronto Blue Jays prospects, one of which was their number seven prospect that just played in the Futures Game.