Friday, April 19, 2024

Cubs Scouted Former Elite Reliever Ken Giles

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Back in 2019, before they signed Craig Kimbrel, the Chicago Cubs had interest in trading for Toronto Blue Jays closer Ken Giles. Five years and a Tommy John surgery later, the Cubs are back to scouting Giles.

The right-handed reliever has unfortunately missed a lot of time since the Cubs expressed interest in trading for him in 2019, as Giles has appeared in nine total games since 2020. After posting a 1.87 ERA, with 83 strikeouts and a 1.00 WHIP in 53 innings with Toronto in 2019, Giles struggled in the shortened 2020 season that ended with the righty undergoing elbow surgery.

On the back of a great career, Giles was able to secure a two-year, $7 million deal with the Seattle Mariners heading into the 2021 season, despite the team knowing he’d miss the first year of the contract recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, Giles suffered a sprained middle finger during the 2022 season, which resulted in a stint on the 60-day injured list and he ultimately only pitched in five games for Seattle before the Mariners DFA’d Giles in August.

Giles ended the 2022 season pitching at Triple-A in the San Francisco Giants farm system and then he signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023. The right-hander did not make it up to the majors with the Dodgers and now he’s looking for another opportunity to make it back to the big leagues.

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The Cubs were one of a handful of teams that were in attendance this past weekend at a showcase that featured Giles. He was throwing 93-95mph, which may not seem good, but remember that it’s January and pitchers ramp up their velocity as spring training progresses.

Giles made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014 and he was an immediate success story. The rookie posted a 1.18 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 45.2 innings in his first season with the Phillies and then followed it up with a second straight sub-2 ERA in 2015.

From 2014-2019, Giles pitched for the Phillies, Houston Astros and the Blue Jays. During that time period Giles was one of the most effective relievers in baseball, posting a 2.67 ERA with a 33.3 K%. He recorded 114 saves, which included a stretch of closing out 49 of 50 opportunities from 2018-19 with the Astros and Blue Jays.

But Giles’ successful run was five years ago and when he did return to the mound you could see the affects of his injuries, as his average fastball velocity dropped from 97-98mph to 94-95mph.

Still, like many of these potential signings, there really isn’t a negative in bringing in a guy like Giles and seeing if he can return to being a useful reliever. If not? Then, you let him go in spring training.

The Cubs have signed a handful of reclamation projects this offseason, while also acquiring Yency Almonte from the Dodgers and signing veteran free agent Hector Neris. The team is reportedly still interested in adding more bullpen help and I think, at least I hope, that means someone else in addition to Giles if there is mutual interest on that front.

Are they the most exciting free agents? No, but it doesn’t mean they can’t help the Cubs.

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