Cubs left-hander Rex Brothers elected free agency after he was outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster earlier this week, The Chicago Tribune’s Meghan Montemurro reports (Twitter link). Since Brothers has been outrighted multiple times in his career, he had the right to become a free agent rather than accept the Cubs’ assignment — in fact, Brothers also opted for free agency almost exactly a year ago, after another outright off the Cubs’ 40-man.
Brothers has inked minor league deals with the Cubs in each of the last two offseasons. After tossing only 3 1/3 innings in 2020, he received a much longer look this season, with 53 innings out of Chicago’s bullpen. The first 27 1/3 of those innings were stellar, as the southpaw posted a 2.63 through June 27, but things then started to decline for the veteran. His final 25 2/3 innings resulted in an 8.06 ERA, giving Brothers an overall 5.26 ERA for the season.
Home runs (nine), hard contact, and especially walks were the biggest problems for Brothers, as his 14.8% walk rate was one of the highest of any pitcher in the league. These issues outweighed some very impressive strikeout numbers, as Brothers’ 31.8 K% and whiff rate both fell in the 92nd percentile of all pitchers. While the home runs have been a more recent problem for Brothers, he has long struggled with his control, even dating back to his 2011 rookie season with the Rockies.
Brothers posted some very solid numbers with Colorado from 2011-13, but the team cut ties with him following the 2015 season, dealing him to the Cubs for Brothers’ first stint in Wrigleyville. The Cubs released Brothers that spring, however, and he didn’t play anywhere in 2016 before catching on with the Braves organization for two more seasons.
Brothers turns 34 in December, so time may be running out for the left-hander to show that he can finally harness his control and take full advantage of his ability to miss bats. It seems likely that another team (maybe even the Cubs again) will give Brothers another look on a minor league contract.