Injuries have victimized free-agent reliever Brandon Morrow over the past year and a half, which recently forced the Cubs to buy him out for $3MM in lieu of exercising a $12MM option for 2020. However, that doesn’t mean the Cubs are uninterested in keeping Morrow in the fold. On the contrary, the club’s considering trying to bring the right-handed Morrow back on a minor-league deal, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Morrow, for his part, seems open to returning to the Cubs. Agent Joel Wolfe told Wittenmyer that “Brandon feels a certain sense of loyalty and obligation back to the Cubs to stay with them if they want him on a minor-league contract or something like that. He signed with the Cubs because he thought they were the best organization out there for him, and he still believes that.”
Morrow, then fresh off a stellar season with the Dodgers, joined the Cubs on a two-year, $21MM guarantee entering 2018. The Cubs’ decision looked brilliant at first, as Morrow pumped high-90s heat and fired 30 2/3 innings of 1.47 ERA/2.97 FIP ball with 9.1 K/9, 2.64 BB/9 and a 51.9 percent groundball rate over the 2018 season’s initial few months. Unfortunately, though, Morrow hasn’t taken a major league mound since July 15 of that year because of various injuries.
Back, biceps and elbow issues have been the latest problems during an injury-laden career for Morrow, once a promising starter who reinvented himself as an effective reliever before health troubles reared their head again during his Cubs tenure. Morrow has undergone two elbow surgeries since last November, including one at the end of this season, though he has progressed well enough that he should be ready for spring training, according to Wolfe.
If Morrow does regain health by next year, he’ll have a chance to emerge as a low-cost steal for the Cubs or some other team. In the Cubs’ case, they could clearly use bullpen help – especially with Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, Pedro Strop and David Phelps among their free agents. However, it’s up in the air how much money the luxury tax-minded Cubs plan on spending as they work to improve their relief corps (and their roster as a whole) after falling short of expectations in 2019. If they’re on the hunt for potential bargains, a reunion with Morrow would seemingly make sense.