The Cubs and left-hander Ryan Borucki are in agreement on a minor league deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The southpaw will presumably receive an invitation to major league Spring Training, though no formal announcement has been made.
Borucki, 29 in March, was drafted by the Blue Jays and had an encouraging rookie season with them in 2018. Working as a starter at that time, Borucki posted a 3.87 ERA over 17 starts. Unfortunately, elbow injuries limited him to just a pair of starts in 2019 and the Jays converted him to a reliever after that.
Since moving to the bullpen, the results have been mixed. He posted an ERA of 2.70 in 2020 but that jumped up to 4.94 and 5.68 in the following two seasons. As those ERAs have climbed, he’s struck out fewer hitters, though his command has improved. His strikeout rate went from 28.8 percent in 2020, down to 21.4 and 18.9 percent after that, while his walk rate went from 16.4 to 11.2 to 9.9 percent. Home runs have also suddenly become an issue, as he had allowed 10 long balls in 121 career innings by the end of 2020 but has allowed 11 homers in just 49 innings over the past two years.
Borucki is out of options and can no longer be sent to the minors. In 2022, the Jays designated him for assignment and flipped him to the Mariners, who outrighted him at season’s end. Despite the rough season, there are things to like about Borucki. He’s held lefties to a meager .204/.286/.289 batting line in his career and a .184/.286/.245 line last year. The Cubs don’t have a ton of lefties lined up to be in their bullpen, with Brandon Hughes and Anthony Kay the only options on the 40-man who don’t project to be in the rotation. If Borucki can make it onto the club’s roster, he won’t be able to reach six years of MLB service time this year and could be retained for 2024 via arbitration, if the Cubs so choose.