LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs gave their bullpen a huge boost by agreeing to terms with free-agent reliever Brandon Morrow, and also took a step toward 2019 by agreeing to terms with lefty Drew Smyly.Morrow underwent a physical on Tuesday in Chicago, and has agreed to a two-year,
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs gave their bullpen a huge boost by agreeing to terms with free-agent reliever Brandon Morrow, and also took a step toward 2019 by agreeing to terms with lefty Drew Smyly.
Morrow underwent a physical on Tuesday in Chicago, and has agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal with a vesting option. If the season started now, Morrow would be the closer, but general manager Jed Hoyer seemed to indicate they're not done.
"I'd say [Morrow is] a late-inning reliever," Hoyer said. "Obviously, if we broke camp right now, he'd be our closer. We'll see what the rest of the offseason brings.
"[Morrow] is a team player and will do anything," Hoyer said. "He did an awesome job last year in the eighth inning for the Dodgers. We're excited to have him, and he'll pitch super high-leverage innings. If the season started tomorrow, he'd be our closer."
The Cubs are looking for their fourth closer in as many years, following Hector Rondon, Albertin Chapman and Wade Davis. However, the Cubs have been in contact with Davis' agent, and the right-hander could return.
According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, Morrow would earn $9 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019 with a $3 million buyout or $12 million vesting option for 2020.
Smyly, 28, is 31-27 with two saves and a 3.74 ERA in 156 Major League appearances, 85 as a starter, covering all or parts of five seasons with the Tigers and Rays. He suffered an elbow injury in March that led to Tommy John surgery in July and missed the entire 2017 season. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners earlier this month.
"Anything we get out of him next year will be sort of gravy," Hoyer said. "He may be able to help us late in the season out of the bullpen. This is a move that's focused on 2019. He's a really good, high-quality starting pitcher, and we're excited to get him on this deal and rehab him and hopefully get him back to where he was."
Smyly formerly pitched with the Rays, and being reunited with Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey was an attractive option. The lefty signed a two-year, $10 million deal that has an additional $7 million in performance bonuses.
"It's a real nice piece for us in the future," Hoyer said. "People won't talk about it a lot in 2018. We'll know he'll be there with us, and hopefully in 2019, he'll be a big part of things."
Morrow, 33, is coming off his best season since he was converted to a full-time reliever, posting a 2.06 ERA over 43 2/3 innings with the Dodgers. He set career highs in strikeout rate (29.1 percent) and WHIP (0.92) while not giving up a home run all season.
"You've got to have that great bullpen to play the last game of the year and win it," Maddon said Tuesday. "Wade was great last year -- hopefully he'll come back to us."
Hoyer also addressed a report by Rosenthal that Mike Montgomery wants a chance to start or go someplace where he can. The Cubs have used the lefty as both a starter and reliever.
"That kind of caught me by surprise, to be honest," Hoyer said. "We view him as a starting pitcher. I know he views himself as a starting pitcher, but he's a good teammate and has been willing to do both, and I think he's done that very well."
Hoyer said he has had no dialogue with Montgomery this offseason.
"Our job is to build up pitching depth and to make sure we have enough pitching," Hoyer said. "With a signing like Smyly, he's definitely a guy we're looking for in '19. We have to keep building up depth in '18 and beyond. In '18, our search is not done for starting pitching."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.