According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Cubs have reached an agreement with former Orioles reliever Brad Brach. The righty, who will turn 33 in April, has long been a Cubs target, so this move doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Well, except that the Cubs have been so quiet this winter that some wondered whether they’d ever sign anyone again.
#Cubs in agreement with free-agent reliever Brad Brach, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 24, 2019
An All-Star selection in 2016, Brach has faltered a bit over the past couple seasons. He has made at least 62 appearances in each of the last four seasons and at least 67 in each of the last three, but his performance and velocity have tailed off. Some of that could have been due to languishing in Baltimore, as evidenced by significant improvements across the board following a trade to Atlanta at the 2018 deadline.
Rosenthal tweeted that the deal is for a guaranteed $4.35 million for one year, but that “both player and club have options for 2020.” The deal would grow to $9.5 million if the Cubs exercise their option but would be less if they decline and Brach exercises his option. So it’s like the Brandon Kintzler deal except less expensive.
Brach’s strikeout and walk numbers have been going in the opposite directions over the past three seasons and he’ll need to get that under control to be an impact option out of the ‘pen. His Steamer projections of 9.51 K/9 and 3.97 BB/9 aren’t awful by any stretch, but it’d be great if he could get that latter mark down closer to 3.0 again. The most encouraging stat from his 23.2 innings was how he kept the ball in the yard to the tune of 0.38 HR/9.
What the Cubs will really be leaning on more than anything, though, are those 60+ appearances each season. Having a reliable reliever who can go out there every time he’s called upon, and who is doing so at a low cost for just one season, is ideal. And hey, maybe Brach realizes the same type of change-of-scenery bounce we saw with Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez.
Ed. note: The initial run of this post had the deal at one year and $3 million, which had been reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. As has been the case quite a bit when it comes to his reports on contract offers and agreements this winter, however, that report is apparently erroneous.