Rex Brothers was released today by the Cubs, who signed the left-hander to a $1.42 million contract in December after acquiring him from the Rockies.
However, because the contract was an agreement to avoid arbitration it’s only partially guaranteed. By releasing Brothers now the Cubs owe him only 30 days of termination pay, which is around $300,000. In other words, they made the decision so early in spring training precisely because it saved them the most money in a situation unique to this specific type of contract.
Not so long ago Brothers looked like one of the best young relievers in the league, saving 19 games with 1.74 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 67 innings for the Rockies in 2013 as a 25-year-old. However, the former first-round draft pick struggled in 2014 and then spent most of last season in the minors before failing to impress the Cubs this spring.
At age 28 he should have plenty of interested suitors on a minor-league contract, but will have to get his career back on track before returning to the majors.
Last Thursday, we learned that the MLBPA was challenging the Nippon Professional Baseball posting system, delaying Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball. The latest collective bargaining agreement removed a lot of the incentive for players to come to the U.S. by capping pay. Ohtani, for example, can only receive a signing bonus between $300,000 and $3.53 million while his team — the Nippon Ham Fighters — would receive $20 million for posting him.
Jon Morosi reports that the deadline for this issue to be resolved is 8 PM ET on Monday evening. He notes that key NPB officials have worked through the night in Japan to try to reach a resolution. It is possible that even if no agreement is reached, the deadline could be pushed further back.
Ohtani, 23, has become a heralded hitter and pitcher in Japan. At the plate over his five-year career, he has compiled a .286/.358/.500 triple-slash line with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 1,170 plate appearances. On the mound, he has a 2.52 ERA with a 624/200 K/BB ratio across 543 innings.