The Cubs announced today that they have acquired left-handed reliever Rex Brothers from the Rockies in exchange for minor league lefty Wander Cabrera. Brothers, who was designated for assignment last week, will be added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster.
The 27-year-old Brothers once looked like a potential stalwart in the Colorado bullpen and perhaps even the team’s future closer. The former No. 34 overall draft pick (2009) pitched to a combined 2.82 ERA with 218 strikeouts in 175 2/3 innings for the Rockies from 2011-13 and totaled 19 saves in that ’13 season. His 11.2 K/9 rate in that time was enough to help him offset sub-par control (4.8 B/9 rate), but his problems locating the ball have worsened significantly in the past two seasons.
Brothers has walked 47 hitters in his past 66 2/3 Major League innings and in fact spent most of the 2015 season at Triple-A, where his control was even worse. Though Brothers fanned a highly impressive 61 batters in 42 1/3 innings this season, he also issued a woeful 44 walks — more than one per inning. The Cubs will look to find the source of his location troubles in an effort to get him back on the right track to being a long-term bullpen piece. Brothers is arbitration eligible this winter, so the Cubs will have to make a relatively minor financial gamble as a result of this move. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.5MM salary for Brothers based on his pre-arb work, though that sum is less consequential to the Cubs than to many other teams. If Brothers turns it around in Chicago, he can be controlled through 2018.
In return, the Rockies will receive Cabrera, a Dominican left-hander that just turned 18 earlier this month. Cabrera’s first season of pro ball was 2015, in which he logged a 2.34 ERA with a 47-to-23 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings playing in the Dominican Summer League. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper notes (via Twitter) that Cabrera received a $250K signing bonus from the Cubs in 2014. He features a 92 mph fastball (plenty of velocity for a lefty) and a “usable” curveball at present, per Cooper.