After addressing a need for their rotation by adding veteran right-hander John Lackey on a reported two-year, $32 million contract, the Cubs have apparently turned their attention to upgrading the back-end of their bullpen.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Cubs are “actively exploring” a trade for one of the one top closers. No specifics on who they are targeting, but a bunch of closers are reportedly available via trade right now, including Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Ken Giles of the Phillies, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger of the Rays, and Andrew Miller of the Yankees. The Nationals have also made Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen available.
The Cubs already have a pretty good closer in Hector Rondon, who had a 1.67 ERA and 69/15 K/BB ratio in 70 innings this past season. However, the prospect of using him in a set-up role in front of someone like Chapman (again, just speculation) is obviously really enticing.
Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.
Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.
It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.
Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.