On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona, the Cubs put the finishing touches on a one-year deal with free-agent reliever Brad Brach.The Cubs announced Monday that they signed Brach to a one-year contract that includes a mutual option for the 2020 season. The deal, which was agreed
On the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting to Arizona, the Cubs put the finishing touches on a one-year deal with free-agent reliever Brad Brach.
The Cubs announced Monday that they signed Brach to a one-year contract that includes a mutual option for the 2020 season. The deal, which was agreed upon on Jan. 24, has a base salary of $3 million for '19 and is valued at $4.35 million guaranteed. With the addition of Brach, Chicago's 40-man roster is at capacity and full of a variety of options for a crowded bullpen competition this spring.
Pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Mesa, Ariz., for the Cubs on Tuesday with the first official workout to follow on Wednesday. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 18 and Chicago will open its Cactus League ledger against the Brewers on Feb. 23 at Sloan Park.
Brach provides some added right-handed depth for the Cubs, who could be without closer Brandon Morrow for the first month of the season. Morrow underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his right elbow on Nov. 6 to clean up some cartilage in the joint.
As things currently stand, Brach joins a Cubs bullpen that also features Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Mike Montgomery, Carl Edwards Jr., Tyler Chatwood, Tony Barnette, Brian Duensing and Brandon Kintzler. Options on the roster behind that group include Randy Rosario, Kyle Ryan, Alec Mills, Rowan Wick and Dillon Maples, among others.
The Cubs also have an assortment of non-roster invitees, including Christian Bergman, Ian Clarkin, George Kontos, Dakota Mekkes, Carlos Ramirez and Junichi Tazawa, among others.
Last season, the Cubs' relief corps led the National League with a 3.35 ERA, .225 opponents' average and 0.78 home runs allowed per nine innings, but there were other statistical areas of concern. For example, the bullpen's walk rate (11 percent) was 14th in the NL, the strikeout rate (22.6 percent) ranked ninth and the group logged the fifth-most innings (588 1/3) in the Senior Circuit.
Brach, who will turn 33 in April, offers some more veteran late-inning depth for Chicago's cast of relief arms.
In 69 appearances last year, Brach compiled a 3.59 ERA with 60 strikeouts against 28 walks in 62 2/3 innings between tours with the Orioles and Braves. After being traded to Atlanta at the end of July, he spun a 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings over the season's final two months. Brach held right-handed batters to a .243 average (.692 OPS) last year, but he saw lefties hit .330 (.838 OPS) off him.
Brach has put together an eight-year career in the big leagues with San Diego, Baltimore and Atlanta after not being picked until the 42nd round of the 2008 Draft. He owns a 3.08 career ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 424 appearances (all in relief), and he was an American League All-Star for the Orioles in '16, when he posted a 2.05 ERA.
Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.