Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cubs Interested in More Bullpen Help

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The Chicago Cubs acquired reliever Yency Almonte in the Los Angeles Dodgers trade, signed veteran righty and former closer Hector Neris, while also adding a handful of other pitchers to minor league deals to include more arms to their mix. It appears as though the Cubs are not done addressing their pitching depth, as MLB reporter Robert Murray said on Tuesday that the Cubs are still interested in obtaining more bullpen help.

Murray, alongside Adam Weinrib, discussed several rumors around the league on The Baseball Insiders show and although the Cubs did just agree to a deal with Neris this past weekend, Murray is reporting that they are one of the teams still in pursuit of more relievers.

Via The Baseball Insiders.

“I can confidently say that one team that is still in the market for bullpen help is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are in fact looking at bullpen help.”

If you take a look at the current structure of the Cubs bullpen, then you’ll notice that Drew Smyly and Luke Little are the two main lefties that as of now seem like the guys Craig Counsell will lean on from that side of the mound. Of course, the Cubs have signed several guys to minor league deals and there are a few prospects who may earn a shot in the majors some time in 2024.

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But if the Cubs are interested in another bullpen arm, then I’m going to assume it will be another lefty. The other relievers that were linked to them were proven right-handers, but they’re probably in the same money range as Neris, so I doubt the front office uses its resources on another one of those contracts. Instead, and you can laugh, they probably want another low-risk option, that yes, is on the cheaper side in free agency.

According to FanGraphs’ Roster Resource page, here are the left-handed relievers still available in free agency who pitched in 2023.

Let’s take a look at the first three options.

Scott Alexander has pitched for the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants during his MLB career. He’s been pretty good out of the bullpen, posting a 3.21 ERA in 258.1 innings. He’s had some injuries, which limited his time in the majors in 2019 with the Dodgers and 2021 with the Giants.

Not really a huge fan of Alexander as an option for the Cubs and it’s because of his sub-par strikeout numbers. Alexander has not averaged more than six strikeouts per nine innings since 2018. He does have a great ground ball %, sitting at 68.4% throughout his career, but I’d prefer a guy who can come in and strike batters out in late-inning situations.

But hey, gotta give credit where it’s due because as much as I might not like Alexander’s profile as a reliever, he’s put up good results for the most part with every team he’s pitched for.

Brad Hand had a rough 2023 season, splitting time with the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves. The three-time All-Star reliever posted a 5.53 ERA, the worst of his career, last season, as a change of scenery in Atlanta did not help out Hand. One thing that has been trending down since the shortened 2020 season, is Hand’s strikeout rate, which was in the 30-35 percent range during his prime in the mid-to-late 2010s, and has been hovering in the lower 20 percent range the past three seasons.

Hand ended the 2023 season with a 7.50 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 18 innings with the Braves.

Lastly, Jake Diekman is the guy I think would be a solid option to add to the Cubs bullpen for 2024. He’s the oldest out of these three relievers, but we’ve seen the Cubs capitalize on older relievers in the past who have had solid bounce back seasons late in their career.

The Cubs signed David Robertson after his stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, and why not do it again with Diekman, who looked great to end the 2023 season after the Rays picked him up following his release from the White Sox.

Diekman made 50 appearances with Tampa Bay and posted a 2.18 ERA in 45.1 IP, with 53 strikeouts and a 46.7 ground ball %.

I don’t think any signing the Cubs will make, if they do make one, to add another reliever is going to break the bank and as annoying as it may be to watch the front office wait out the market, you also can’t argue with some of the results. It hasn’t always worked out, but the Cubs could get another valuable piece for their bullpen in the late stages of the offseason.

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Hehateme30
Jan 30, 2024 8:13 pm

Cubs need more relievers along with another bat or two .

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