In terms of the moves that the Cubs would make to keep relevant in the 2018 pennant race, this one is pretty solid:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2017
The earlier report that the Cubs would also try to lock down Alex Cobb before the Winter Meetings aligns with why they are trying to get this done early with Brandon Morrow. This alleviates some pressure from the Cubs to compete with other teams for the same free agents, and gives them some leverage in negotiations for those same free agents who would want to join Chicago. Assuming the reports are accurate, the fact that even the big fish they lost also expressed interest in the Cubs as a destination probably helped Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in persuading Morrow to jump the market and sign early, along with the earlier signing of Tyler Chatwood and the rumored pursuit of Cobb.
In terms of the on-field production, we all saw how Morrow performed in the postseason as the Dodgers went the distance before losing to Houston in seven games. He only really had one stinker against the Astros, while throwing gems in his other appearances through the playoffs. A guy who doesn’t walk anyone and has an upper-90s fastball is difficult to find, so I am on board with this potential acquisition. Also, Morrow happens to be a product of my alma mater, so there’s some extra school spirit connection in there too. I know there may be some concern about whether he has overcome his past injury woes, and whether his recent success is real or a mirage, but I have seen him in the past with Toronto as a very good starter before his injuries and I think that his production is the real deal.
I would probably guess a two or three-year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $8MM to $10MM per season. Even though that sounds hefty for a recently reborn reclamation project, it is probably about right for this pitching market and for his projected production. It also leaves a bunch of wiggle room for other additions next week and beyond. In addition, the Cubs did not have to surrender a draft pick. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Eh, I was close…
Morrow will have deal with cubs. Expected to be for 10 or 11M a year.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2017
The details will roll in, but I suppose the numbers are inflated both because of the scarcity of good free agents and the amount of money that teams can’t just throw at international free agents anymore.
This may effectively end the need to re-sign Wade Davis as the Cubs decide to use Morrow as the closer, or perhaps groom one of Carl Edwards Jr or Pedro Strop as the new closer. My guess is the current Cubs will stay in their setup roles.
UPDATE 2:54 PM: Jeff Passan has an update about the terms:
Source: The Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms with free agent RP Brandon Morrow on a two-year deal with an option. @MLBBruceLevine first said they were close. Deal is pending a physical.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 10, 2017
That’s about $20MM, the extra chunk of change might be a signing bonus or a buyout. Given Morrow’s heavy use in the 2017 postseason and his injury history, I assume the Cubs will be careful with his use and workload, so expect him to be a single-inning reliever whenever the Cubs have a lead or are tied at home. Yeah, it’s a bit traditional but pitchers are human and they like routine. I’m sure the Cubs will try different leverage experiments with guys who didn’t break a few years ago.
UPDATE 12/11 7:30 AM: Looks like financial terms are in…
Deal is in place. Pending physical. https://t.co/meeQogZnxo
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2017
So I guess they just have to make sure the arm is still attached, and it’s a go!
UPDATE 12/12 8:00 PM: Official!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 13, 2017
And the news comes with a partner item too…
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 13, 2017
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2017
That’s Drew Smyly, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery but could possibly come back at the end of the season in 2018, and almost certainly becomes a rotation option the following season. Good work by the Cubs breaking their own news!