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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.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).