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Reports: Cubs close to deal for Brandon Morrow

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The Cubs are reportedly close to a deal for free agent right-hander Brandon Morrow, per CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. This gels with Levine’s report from Saturday, in which he hinted that the club appeared likely to make a move before the Winter Meetings on Monday with Morrow, right-handed starter Alex Cobb and free agent reliever Addison Reed ranked high on their wish list. While the Cubs have not publicly confirmed the signing, Jeff Passan reports that it will be a two-year contract with an option at “$10 or $11 million [per] year” (via Heyman).

Morrow, 33, recently polished off a one-year stint as the Dodgers’ setup man. He pitched to a sterling 2.06 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, 10.3 SO/9 and 0.0 HR/9 in 43 2/3 innings, earning 1.7 fWAR and making 2017 his most valuable season since his 2012 run with the Blue Jays. More importantly, he managed to stay healthy for the entire season, exhibiting no signs of the shoulder inflammation and forearm issues that plagued him over the last four years.

In November, Morrow expressed a desire to remain with the Dodgers — assuming, of course, that they were willing to pony up the kind of multi-year deal he’s currently seeking. There doesn’t appear to be any movement on that front, however, and the Cubs can offer Morrow something the Dodgers can’t: the opportunity to convert to a closing role.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉