Posted on December 10, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Brandon Morrow

Image via sports.yahoo.com

The Chicago Cubs may have found their closer for the 2018 season. The club has reportedly agreed to a deal with free-agent pitcher Brandon Morrow. As of Sunday evening, the Cubs have yet to confirm the deal. However, reports indicate that Morrow and the Cubs have agreed to a two-year contract worth at least $10 million per year. Chicago reportedly identified Morrow early in the offseason as a pitcher who could help a bullpen that will require some rebuilding this winter.

The 33-year old Morrow is coming off a brilliant season with the Dodgers, serving as the primary setup man for Kenley Jansen. In 45 appearances, Morrow was 6-0 with a 2.06 ERA. He continued in that role during the playoffs with slightly less success. Morrow appeared tired at times in October, appearing in all but one game during the postseason, pitching to a 3.95 ERA.

Morrow has been hindered by shoulder problems in recent years. He spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Padres but was limited to just five starts in 2015 and 18 relief appearances in 2016. He even had to settle for a minor-league contract with the Dodgers last offseason. However, he’s breathed new life into his career after moving to the bullpen full time. Morrow is now poised to turn a brilliant 2017 season as a setup man into a job as the closer on a team that has World Series aspirations.

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The Cubs still have a substantial amount of work to do on their bullpen this offseason. Their first priority was to replace closer Wade Davis, who is now considered the top closer on the free-agent market. They are also set to lose Brian Duensing and Koji Uehara to free agency. Both were solid contributors last season. Chicago also decided to non-tender former closer Hector Rondon after his effectiveness continued to drop in 2017. That leaves quite a few vacancies in the Chicago bullpen.

At the moment, Morrow would appear to be penciled in as Chicago’s new closer once the deal becomes official. Justin Wilson, Pedro Strop, and Carl Edwards Jr are in line to be the team’s top setup men. But beyond that, the Cubs have some questions about their bullpen. Mike Montgomery is a likely contributor, but he may also be needed to provide rotation depth.

Recent reports indicate that the Cubs will look to sign at least one more late-inning reliever. However, it remains to be seen whether they’ll attempt to re-sign Davis or another pitcher who could serve as the team’s closer. Remember, Morrow has never been a closer before. Wilson is the only pitcher currently on Chicago’s roster with closer experience, and that’s limited to the first half of last season with Detroit. Edwards could be viewed as a potential closer, but he also lacks experience in that role.

Even with Morrow on board, it’ll be interesting to see where the Cubs go from here. Despite an impressive campaign in 2017, relying on him to be a closer would be a little risky for the Cubs. At the very least, the Cubs would be wise to bring in a setup man with closing experience. Morrow will certainly help Chicago’s bullpen. But the Cubs are by no means finished addressing that part of their roster.

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