As the Chicago Cubs continue to wait on a decision from free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson, the team made a move on Thursday to bolster their bullpen as they signed veteran reliever Brad Boxberger.
At the Major League Baseball Trade deadline last season, the Cubs decimated the backend of their bullpen as the team traded Scott Effross, Chris Martin, Mychal Givens, and David Robertson. The expectation this offseason was that the Cubs would replenish their bullpen depth and the signing of Boxberger certainly plays to that effect.
Boxberger spent the past two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. With the Brewers in 2022, Boxberger posted a 2.92 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP in 70 appearances. Boxberger averaged 9.56 strikeouts per 9 innings last year and will represent a nice change of pace from the starters that the Cubs have in their starting rotation.
Despite all the faults of this Theo Epstein-less regime of the Cubs, the organization usually has not missed with their veteran relief pitcher signings. Whether it was last season with Givens, Martin, and Robertson; or the season before that with Andrew Chafin, the Cubs have proven that they are capable of getting the most out of veteran relief pitchers once signed.
Boxberger likely slots into the late-inning relief role for the Cubs. Keegan Thompson likely factors into that role as well but he does offer the flexibility of being able to pitch multiple innings during an appearance.
Boxberger shouldn't be the only addition that the Cubs make to the bullpen this offseason. The team could still use another late-inning left-handed relief pitcher and Chafin remains available on the free-agent market.