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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.

Padres trade Brad Hand, Adam Cimber to the Indians for Francisco Mejia

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Diego Padres have traded closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to the Cleveland Indians. In return the Padres are getting top catching prospect Francisco Mejia.

Hand, the Padres’ All-Star closer, has a 3.05 ERA and 65/15 K/BB ratio and 24 saves over over 44.1 innings of work this season. In addition to helping an Indians bullpen which has struggled mightily this season, Hand will provide an insurance policy for the next two seasons given that both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are due to hit free agency this winter. Hand, meanwhile, is under contract for this year and next for a total of $13.5 million, with a $10 million club option for 2021.

Cimber is another fine reliever who, along with Hand, suddenly transforms the Indians’ bullpen. He’s a 27-year-old rookie, but he’s been a very useful one this year, posting a 3.17 ERA in 42 games, with a K/BB ratio of 51/10 in 48.1 innings. He’s pitched even better than that of late and has been particularly hard on righties. He’s under team control through 2023.

In Mejia, the Padres are getting the Indians’ top hitting prospect. A catcher — though not necessarily a great defensive one — Mejia has struggled in brief stints in the big leagues thus far but is a .291/.344/.438 hitter in six minor league seasons and, at times, has shown star potential. He turns 23 in October.

A nice piece for the Padres in the long term and an immediate upgrade to the Indians’ bullpen in the short term. In short: a baseball trade.