Brandon Morrow Signs With Cubs

The Cubs began the process of rebuilding their beleaguered bullpen on Sunday afternoon. Jon Heyman has reported that the Cubs have a deal with ex-Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow. Morrow was leaned on heavily by Dave Roberts in the 2017 playoffs. The hard throwing right hander threw 13.2 innings in the Dodgers World Series run. In the regular season he posted a sterling 2.06 ERA (1.55 FIP) in 43.2 innings.

The 33-year old Morrow was a starter earlier in his career for the Mariners and Blue Jays. He posted a career 4.32 ERA as a starter with a .242 batting average against. He then went to the Padres in 2015, where shoulder impingement surgery ended his season. He returned for just 16 innings in 2016 as a reliever.

The California native signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in 2017 and began the year in AAA. Upon his call up in May, he quickly became the primary setup man behind closer Kenley Jansen. Morrow touched 100 miles per hour on his fastball as a reliever and consistently sat in the high 90’s. He throws a slider, changeup, curve ball, and added a hard cutter in 2017.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports the deal is for two years with an option year, Heyman added it was for between 10 and 11 million dollars per season. Two years 20 million is a very reasonable deal for a reliever like Morrow, still red flags remain.

Morrow has had injury problems in the past especially that shoulder surgery in 2015. The heavy usage in the World Series is also a concern for the Cubs. After pitching 5 times in 6 days, his ERA shot up to 8.44 against the Astros. For a pitcher who has only thrown 92 innings the last 3 seasons it’s unclear how heavily he can be leaned on. He also has never been a closer other than a brief stint with the Mariners early in his career.

If Morrow can recreate his 2017 season with the Cubs it will be a very good addition to the club. The deal is reasonable enough that if it doesn’t work out it won’t be that big of a deal. I fully expect one and probably two more relievers will be added by Theo and company before the off-season is over.


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  • Is it too much to hope that the Cubs find a way to keep Davis, have him close, and have Morrow setup? It is. Drat. But i’ll Keep dreaming.

  • Off season so far so good. If the cubs can sign cobb and another bullpen piece I will be hyped.Please let davis walk in free agency theo

  • In reply to bolla:

    I agree....I'd like to see Duensing (sic) and Addison Reed added to the BP core.

  • In reply to JollyCharlieGrimm:

    Same here w/Reed & Duensing or Shaw or some combo of that, but I’d still like Davis back w/that.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Amen to signing Cobb !

  • With the Chatwood/Morrow signings & rumored proximity of a Cobb deal, have the chances of a significant core positional trade gone down quite a bit?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think so. The front office is most likely reluctant to trade any of there young core. It still remains be seen what they will be when fully developed.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Their young core.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Would you trade Schwarber for JBJ in thr next week? I would without a doubt.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Idk, I like all those guys JBJ, Benetendi, and especially Yelish, but I'm not sure that any of them will be what Schwarber can be. I think Kyle might be rare power and hit for average as well, soon.

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Sure, he's got a proven track record, but I think Jon Bon Jovi is past his prime.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Good grief. I wasn't aware Jon Bon Jovi ever had a prime. Reading some of these comments, I think many of us have broken into the liquor cabinet a little early to celebrate Christmas. I'd never do such a thing.

    A toast to Brandon Morrow!!

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Hey use guysss, Shorber is a bum... get him outta heeehr for some of dose practice balls & dem fungos bats...

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Is that the ghost of Harry past speaking?

  • In reply to Wrigley0923:

    Yuk. I'm up for trading Schwarber but JBJ? No thanks. Red Sox players are way overhyped and we have a JBJ type player in Almora.

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    In reply to NZCub:

    Move Almora to LF. I doubt the FO will trade him though. He'd have to be part of a SP trade imo. But the FO likes to buy pitching. All I want is to make the playoffs. After that, it's a crap shoot who will win.

  • In reply to NZCub:

    Id take Betts or Benitiendi for Schwarber. JBJ, no thanks.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Still see a trade happening

  • Little by little the Cubs fill in the spaces and build.

  • The red sox are interested in schwarber. I seriously don't get the love affair with schwarber he's a great kid but his hitting ability is highly overrated. Trade him and caratini for benetendi, it's weird how baez is always the one everyone wants to trade when he saves runs and can play elite defense at 3 infield positions. baez offers versatility what does schwarber do besides hit towering hr's and belly flop/botch routine plays in the of?

  • In reply to bolla:

    He’s a good player. But I think a better fit for the Red Sox than Cubs. Schwarber for Benetendi would make me happy. But whenever I see a rumored trade, I believe it is unlikely to happen. Maybe the Cubs leak that so they spur the Marlins to trade Yelich?

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    In reply to bolla:

    I would have agreed to that trade at the end of last season but recent pics of Schwarber look like a remade player. He looks to be in way better shape then any of us have seen before. Keep him for another season.

  • In reply to Ironman McGinnity:

    I agree on keeping Schwarber for another season. I like Yelich, but I want to see Almora get a f-t shot at CF and leadoff. Keep the offensive side intact, unless an longgggg-shot offer comes about for Heyward.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Schwarbs had a cool face plant rounding first as well, but oh that Ruthian power from the left side gets me every time.

  • In reply to bolla:

    How can you say that? What do you make of his hitting ability from Team USA and the Minors? I don’t get that take. Is he untouchable? No. But the “over-rated” take is poor. He’s a leader a great teammate and works his ass off. Those are the guys you want over a 162 game schedule.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Lol who cares about the minors and team usa in the majors he sucks. Schwarber hit .211 with 150 k's and a .315 ob % and 11.4 dwar they all work their butts off. Whatever, theo loves the guy hopefully he proves me wrong.I'm scared his value may drop even more if he doesn't. Happ shouldn't be on the bench cuz of schwarber imo

  • In reply to bolla:

    -1.4 dwar

  • In reply to bolla:

    I don't care what he did in the minors or Team USA either, but I do not what he did in the playoffs in 2015 and in the world series in 2916. You ask Theo to prove you wrong when you say he sucks, well, he already did in both of those years when it mattered most.

  • In reply to KJRyno:


  • In reply to KJRyno:

    He slashed .255/.338/.535 with a .903 OPS and 131 wRC+ after coming back from Iowa. Those numbers are very good and there is reason to think they’ll get better. He has just over a season of PA and in the middle he had a major injury and a poor start following that injury. I’m not going to guarantee he’ll get better but this is highly skilled, high character player. It’s your right to doubt but I for one wouldn’t bet against him.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Agreed - trading Schwarber at this point would be an almost guaranteed undersell. We haven't seen when he can do for a full season yet, and whether he's Adam Dunn, or something special.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Lol yes we have. He had a full season in 2017. Hopefully I'm wrong and schwarber has a monster 2018. That will reestablish his value and help the cubs on the field.

    I also think '18 will be heywards last year on the cubs. His contract will be like 5 years 105 million after 2018, the cubs can eat 20 million and trade him a 5 year 85 million dollar contract for a 29 year old gold glove outfielder isn't bad at all. If heyward struggles again I'm sure he may open to it.That will open up rf for harper

  • In reply to bolla:

    LOL, you are too married to one years numbers... actually a half year.

    Ever hear of Michael Jack Schmidt? In 1973, just one year younger than Schwarber, his first full year in the MLB, he hit sub 200 with an OPS below 700. I am sure Phillies fans everywhere are glad they didn’t sell before his value dropped any further.

    Here is the deal, Theo and Jed believe in this guy in a really big way, do you trust them? They see something there that has game changing potential, and they are sticking by their instincts, which I am glad for. If you trust them, then trust whatever they do with him.

    For my part I am still amazed he OPS 780 after that horrible first half. He showed enough power and OBP that you have to sense more can be there. He could flop, that is no doubt, but there is a very real chance he could have Mike Schmidt’s bat in there as well. I for one will trust Theo and Jed on this.

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    In reply to bolla:

    I think Harper will be a Cub also. Just have to get Heyward off the books.

  • In reply to TC154:

    you obviously misread my post. I wasn't doubting him at all.

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    In reply to KJRyno:

    I can't explain HOW Schwarber managed to play in the 2916 WS. The guy was seriously, like, 924 years old or something. Sorry, couldn't help it.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    His work ethic is legendary. From the bloody hands in the batting cage to his inspirational, sweat-soaked appearances in the clubhouse, no one has ever questioned his work ethic. Or have they?

    I love Schwarber, and I know the FO does too. We have read the stories and seen the pictures of him working his tail off this offseason to get himself in better shape to be our everyday LF in 2018. Typical Schwarber, and all is right in the world.

    I heard a few reports, and I admit I cannot verify the legitimacy of them, that Schwarber was ordered by the FO to get in shape. The reports may be false, or maybe I'm reading to much into them. It just piqued my interest when I heard that the FO had to get onto Schwarber to work harder. That goes against all my pre-conceived notions.

    Probably nothing, but maybe something.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    This is why we need a "Like" button

  • In reply to bolla:

    Ok. So his past means little towards his future? Got I­t­. Silly take.

    So when do you report to Spring Training to take over for Bryant? LOL. Past means nothing, right? LMAO.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Good luck prying away Benintendi. No way would i envision the Red Sox trading Schwarbs for AB straight up or even with Caratini.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Benitienmdi might be one of the few players Id trade Schwarber for. Ive heard of the Fred Lynn comps with him, and from what Ive seen of him he is living up to them.

  • Awesome signing. Now add Neshek and McGee and let’s get to Spring Training.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    No Cobb?

  • In reply to 44slug:


  • In reply to 44slug:

    Only a matter of time. LOL.

    I would be happy with 1 starter and 3 bullpen arms in Free Agency. Maybe a trade bring another arm? Or Cobb?

    I just hate to give our hitters this year. I don’t see any real FA starters of value and you need to package two of our hitters and other pieces to get the TOR guys everyone is clamoring for.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Morrow, Neshek, and McGee, along with Cobb and Chatwood, has been exactly what I was guessing. We're almost halfway there, yet still so very far away from Spring Training. :(

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Have Streets & Sans even run the plows yet?
    I know.......such a longgggggg time to go :(

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Id like Cobb and McGee. Better fits than Neshek.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Clearly I don't like Cobb after the signing of Chatwood but he may be the best option left. As far as another reliever I'd like to see Addison Reed as opposed to McGee or Neshak. That would give you Morrow as your first option at closer with both Reed and Wilson having done it before if it doesn't work out.

  • I like this reported signing,... thought Morrow had a chance to be a solid SP a few year ago in the AL,... before he started to show durability issues. Price isn't bad either. Like this better IF the Cubs make a move to resign Davis though as I don't know he's a dependable closer YET.

  • I want cobb but not for anything more than 4 years 55-65 million. If it gets to the 5 year 70+ territory let him go elsewhere his splitter was a devastating pitch and he abandoned it after tjs. Lester& hendricks are the aces and hopefully quintana has a great years ahead of him.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I agree. If Cobb goes to 5 years you may have to pass. Unless those years and incentive based on performance— say a minimum of 180 innings at a sub 3.50 ERA? Who knows what they could do, but I would not go 5 years for a MOR guy.

  • I think the $10MM per means he is the closer. Can’t see them offering that for a set up guy.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Agreed. I think he gets the first shot to close.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Does that mean they are letting Davis go?

  • Just read dodgers reddit( boredom) they're pretty upset about losing morrow, especially to the cubs.

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    Great signing especially for the price. We have two really good pitchers signed and with Cobb a possibility that would make it great. Don’t forget that we still have Wilson who was very successful in Detroit and I think will bounce back and Dillon Maples with his filthy stuff is up here too.
    Morrow’s problem was more then Chapman-esque since he pitched in every WS game. Bring that down to maybe 3 games and he’ll be much more effective.

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    Schwarber & Happ would get Benintendi and maybe a BP piece.

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    Bryzzo or Judge/Stanton? Yanks dont have crap for SPing though

  • fb_avatar

    I am a little nervous about this signing. I admit I haven't seen Morrow pitch much. But I am generally concerned when we throw that much money at a reliever with a limited track record. Is he the same guy he was in 2016 or in 2016 (4.33 FIP). I am not saying that this is a bad deal. But I am going to tap the brakes on my excitement over it for now.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    *Same guy he was in 2017 or 2016

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'm kind of there with you. Some of his numbers in 2017 are fantastic (FIP, WHIP, H/9, SO/9 specifically) but outside his career norm. So he could have brought it all together or it could have been an outlier year. His HR/9, BB/9 are consistently good which gives me hope. And if reports are right and we got him for 20-22m for 2 years with a club option for a third, I definitely like taking a chance on him.

  • As someone that despises long term deals for relievers - I love this

  • It looks like Schwarber is in the best shape of his career. Who had December 10?

  • Man, I really hope that this deal doesn't make him the closer.

    I guess the way I think of this is they've got four guys to be replaced (Arrieta, Lackey, Rondon, and Davis), and they had a number in mind for how to spend for those four spots. Here are the 2017 salaries for those four:

    Arrieta: $15.637 million
    Lackey: $16 million
    Rondon: $5.8 million
    Davis: $3.15 million

    That's a little more than $40.5 million. That being said, the Cubs have at least given some play that they were interested in bringing Jake back, as well as Davis. Given the market for those guys, you'd expect a major bump in pay. Maybe as much as $25 million for Arrieta and $15 million for Davis. Is it outside the range of possibility that they planned on spending $55-60 million for those four spots, given the change in how bullpens are used these days? There was no way they were ever going to get a closer/setup guy for less than the $9.05 million they spent between Davis/Rondon in 2017.

    So far we have signings of:
    Chatwood: $12.5 million (a "savings" of $3.5 million over Lackey)
    Morrow: (Lets assume he gets $11 million)

    So let's say that Cobb signs this week. If you look at Fangraphs, his value for 2017 was $18.9 million. Let's say the Cubs pay him $19 million. That means the Cubs will have spent around 42.5 million on pitching.

    Even with Rondon's down year, I have a hard time believing the Cubs are ready to go into this season with an in-house option such as Dillon Maples just taking his spot. Replacing Duensing's innings with a cheaper guy? Maybe.

    Morrow, while very good last year, hardly is a guaranteed replacement for Davis. I don't think they're done yet. If they were planning on spending money on Davis at one point, they may still be doing so. There are still quite a few questions in this bullpen.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I think you are a little off on Davis's salary in 2017. He made $10M in 2017.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Grrrr - I hate making mistakes, and was looking for salaries quickly. Looks like I accidentally grabbed his avg. salary over the course of his career.

    It really only strengthens the point, then, that the Cubs are probably not done spending on the bullpen, and that Morrow will likely not be the closer.

    But ugh...sorry for that mistake.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    No problem. Thanks for sharing the information.

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    In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    We all make mistakes. I thought it was a "rounding error."

  • BTW, I like bringing Duensing back. He seems to be one of those "character" guys (heavily involved in charity work), and lefties tend to pitch forever. His salary was $2 million last year, and he'd likely deserve a raise.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Completely agree on Duensing and also that Morrow was not brought in to be the closer. Though I do love the signing.

  • In reply to YouCannotBeSerious:

    I just think he's too big a question mark given injury history, and that he's pitched so few innings over the past two seasons to make him "THE guy" at the end of games.

    I'd still like to see Davis back there to close out games.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I think that Morrow is the first to be given the chance to close. I'd only bring back Duensing on a 2-year deal with a modest raise of $2Mil per year. I'm more afraid of Duensing not being able to repeat his performance than Morrow becoming a relief pitcher after starting for most of his career.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Agreed. Really hoping they bring back Wade and I think they will. Morrow is a great addition but no way the Cubs expect him to be the closer on a 2018 World Series team.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Dario Alverez may be this years Duensing

  • I don't think there is any way they signed Morrow to be the closer. Last winter they traded for Davis because they know the importance of a proven closer. If they wanted to try an unproven guy, why not CJ? I don't believe for a second that they would sign a guy like Morrow to be the closer. He is the replacement for Rondon. A proven closer is still in the works. And I'd love for it to be Davis for a couple years, but I'm sure that whoever the 9th inning guy will be, he is not on the team yet.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    I wouldn't count out Edwards as the closer. It will probably not be their first plan, but I think he will be given a chance to win the position, and will probably win it by mid season.

  • The rays will want a huge haul for archer(per tampa bay times) so that dream should end immediately, but colome is gonna get traded. Hopefully the cubs can attempt to trade for colome but I'm sure other teams will too. The cards have been consistently linked to colome

  • In reply to bolla:

    Why not give a huge haul? Isn't receiving Archer and possibly Colome a huge haul coming back?

  • I am a huge cub fan but don’t always agree with every move right out the gates. Seems like a lot fans believe everything Theo does is the only move to make. I appreciate that quality, I just don’t think this is one good move. I have no issue with 2 year deal. I think 11-13 million a year is way over paying for a guy who is 33 and had his best year this past season. I would almost say he over achieved and performed way out of his norm. Not to mention he has a bad history of injuries.
    I am all for signing Cobb but is he projected to be a top of rotation guy??? Once we signed chatwood I figured we would try to find a 1 or 2 for the rotation.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Who is the 1 or 2 you would like to acquire?

    I believe that Hendricks is currently one of the 30 best pitchers in MLB. If that's true, is he a 1........ or 2 at the least?

    Or are there only 10-15 true 1 or 2 pitchers...........and who do you list as the 1 or 2's?

    not debating, I'm trying to understand your thinking. You've been firm on this for weeks.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    If we lose arietta who was a 1 or 2 pitcher. We need to replace that. I was expecting maybe a trade for one if one wasn’t available to their liking???

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I understand you want to replace Arrieta whom you consider a 1 or 2. Who is the 1 or 2 you think the Cubs should try to acquire in a trade?

    Should I take from your comment that you agree that Hendricks is a 1 or 2?

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I do. I think Kyle is solid 2. Not sure Cobb fits that.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The Cubs started last season with Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey and Anderson as their 5 starters. To me, I believe the Cubs replaced Arrieta as a 1 or 2 with the in season trade for Q.

    They have replaced Lackey with Chatwood.

    If they sign Cobb, on paper, that seems like an upgrade over Anderson.

    I believe the overall rotation this year, if Cobb is a part, would be an upgrade over last year even if Lester declines. And, I'm not certain his decline in the last half of the year had to do with age. I believe he was injured and never said a word.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Sure but the reason the team declined last year was almost solely because of the pitching and defense. The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Nationals rotations were all approximately .5 of a run better in both ERA and FIP. This rotation didn't need to get marginally better, it needed to get much better. As far as Lester goes, I could believe it if he was hurt and stayed quiet, but I also could believe that Father Time has caught cup with him. Not something I'd want to bet on.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    If we signed Cobb. Which starting rotations would u rather have? The one we ended with or this one?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    If we sign Cobb, I'd rather have a rotation of Lester, Hendricks, Q, Cobb and Chatman than Lester, Arrieta, Hendricks, Lackey and Anderson.

    That said, at looking at something you mentioned far up the thread about Davis. It bums me out that he is all but gone. But what if the FO re-signs Davis plus one other relief guy (hopefully Reed) and decides the 5th starter is Tseng/Butler or whoever pitches best in SP. That would take guts.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I ask if we sign Cobb. Would you rather have rotation we ended the year with or this one?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    that question is parsing a little. I look at the acquisition of Q as the in season replacement for Arrieta. I believe you look at it as a need being filled in season separate from Arrieta.

    Let's compare Arrieta and Cobb for 2017. Without getting too much into the weeds, they are pretty much the same pitcher. Arrieta pitched fewer innings, gave up more runs but fewer earned runs, walked more, struck out more, gave up fewer hits. Exact same WHIP. I'll take Cobb because of my perceived lower contract cost and years.

    Let's look at Lackey and Chatwood. First, I love Lackey. I have always loved pitchers who throw 6 innings no matter if they get their brains beat in early and save a bullpen. That was Lackey...good or bad. Again, there is not much difference in their 2017 season. Except that Chatwood was a ton better away from Coors Field. He is 10 years younger than Lackey at $3Mil less per season on a 3 year deal. I'll take Chatwood.

    Long way to your answer.........I'll take the new rotation with Cobb.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    So, where do you expect that improvements to the bullpen will come from? The Cubs either trade for them or pay what it takes to acquire free agents, and you seem to be against both options. And, you've made clear your belief that coaching has no impact, so we can't expect improvement in the current staff. Where do the Cubs go from here?

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    According to you the bullpen is saved because hickey is here.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    We really haven’t done much to the bullpen

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I agree with a lot of this—especially the $ value. I was hoping for a $6-8MM number for him to replace Rondon.

  • There IS no 1 or 2 on the free agent market, unless you think that Darvish is one. And they don't have much to use in a trade for one. Personally, I would be extremely happy to get Cobb.

  • I think Cobb would be fine. I don't buy that the Yankees are in on Cobb at all. They have 4 starters and another 3 or 4 5th starter options and only about 10 million to spend unless they offload Ellsbury and/or Headley. They are way more likely to re-sign CC.

  • In reply to NZCub:

    There are a number of teams in on Cobb including the Yankees

  • I like this move it gives the Cubs a high leverage reliever who COULD close. 2 years @ $20 mil is not bad, Davis & Holland will probably get double that in years & money and you could argue they both have the same relative injury risk. Morrow is more of a swing & miss guy, which imo is what you want out of late inning relievers. And folks FA is ALWAYS an overpay! I don't every worry about the FA dollars as much as the length. Even if Morrow bombs this year, excellent chance he could be moved next offseason. The Cubs have done well with this signing & Chatwood, they are short deals and do nothing to hamper extensions of KB, Russell, Javy, etc. Plus they give the Cubs more time to develop some pitching.

    I think the Cubs will sign one more high leverage reliever who either has or could close, personally I like someone like Reed. Wouldnt be surprised to see a trade either, I think the Cubs are looking to build a "super pen" with multiple guys who can or have closed but also have experience setting up or working high leverage situations.

    I also believe the Cubs are making these "quick' signings because it will put this "pressure" on them to trade. I think they will still explore trades but it might be a deal to replenish the farm a bit or get a AA or AAA starter who projects to be in the majors a year or 2 from now

  • Morrow gets 9 mil in 18 & 19 with a 3 million buyout/12 million vesting option for ‘20

    Great deal

  • In reply to bolla:

    So if I understand it the contract could pay him 9M, 9M and 12M if he stays healthy and does well in the first 2 years. 30 M for 3 years so the AVV is 10 M. I like it.

  • In reply to John57:

    Staying healthy is the big if in this deal

  • this will likely be a good deal IF Morrow stays healthy. Production has never been a major issue with him, health has always been his issue.

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