The Cubs have released right-handed hurler Brandon Morrow, according to the latest transactions report from Baseball America’s Chris Hilburn-Trenkle. He had been with the organization on a minor-league deal.
This would appear to bring an end to the saga of Morrow’s tenure with the Cubs. He had already wrapped up a two-year deal that began with immense promise and ended in disappointment. An attempted comeback this season ran into trouble from the jump, as Morrow was sidelined early in camp with a calf injury.
Soon to turn 36, Morrow last threw in the majors in the first half of the 2018 season. But it sounds as if he’s still hoping to take another crack at getting his roller-coaster career back on track with another organization. Morrow is presently recovering from a “minor nerve procedure,” per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link), but will attempt to play in 2020.
It may seem like an unlikely quest, but it’s worth remembering just how good Morrow was when last we saw him. In 30 2/3 innings for the Cubs, he racked up 22 saves and allowed just five earned runs with a 31:9 K/BB ratio. When he first experienced mid-season forearm issues, the hope was that he’d only be out for a brief stretch. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case.
Morrow’s entire career has been marked by ups and downs, with health generally playing a significant role. The former fifth overall pick showed ample talent at times with the Mariners and Blue Jays, but never consistently delivered results while dealing with intermittent arm problems. He had some moments in a halting attempt to get back in a groove with the Padres, but only managed to throw 49 innings over two seasons.
It all finally seemed to come together with the Dodgers in 2017, as Morrow emerged as a late-inning force over the course of the season and through a run to the World Series. The L.A. organization came to rely upon him heavily, calling upon him for 13 2/3 innings over the postseason — including appearances in every single contest of the seven-game World Series. Morrow answered the bell repeatedly, outside of a Game 5 blip. While that showing ultimately earned Morrow a two-year, $21MM deal, it may also have set the stage for the eventual recurrence of the arm issues that had limited him earlier in his career.