The Cubs have released left-handed reliever Rex Brothers, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Brothers was acquired in a November swap with the Rockies, and his release will open a spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.
The 28-year-old Brothers, once looked at as the potential closer of the future in Colorado, has seen his stock dip in recent seasons. While control has never been Brothers’ strong suit, he’s seen his walk rate rise considerably since 2013. From 2014-15, Brothers posted a 5.00 ERA in 66 2/3 innings with the Rockies, averaging 8.1 strikeouts and 6.3 walks per nine innings pitched. That walk rate is troublesome enough, but Brothers’ control was actually worse at the Triple-A level last season, where he walked a jarring 44 batters in 42 1/3 innings. Chicago picked him up in exchange for minor leaguer Wander Cabrera this winter, but Brothers’ stay on the team’s roster proved to be a brief one.
Brothers’ release isn’t without financial implications. The Cubs avoided arbitration with him by agreeing to a $1.42MM salary for the 2016 season. While arbitration salaries aren’t fully guaranteed, Chicago is on the hook for 30 days worth of termination pay, which will amount to $232,786. He’ll now be free to sign with a club for any amount, though a minor league deal certainly seems likely given Brothers’ recent struggles (which, I should add, include yielding three runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings this spring).
The Cubs still have plenty of left-handed bullpen options in camp, with both Travis Wood and Clayton Richard representing relatively well-compensated bullpen candidates at $6.175MM and $2MM, respectively. Waiver claim C.J. Riefenhauser represents another option on the 40-man roster, although he has a minor league option remaining and can thus begin the year at Triple-A. Additionally, veteran Manny Parra and well-traveled southpaw Edgar Olmos are in camp as non-roster invitees.