Back in the beginning of February, I wrote a piece about Cubs bullpen options. In that discussion I came to the conclusion that I would prefer the Cubs signed one of the other options available before they even thought about adding Zack Britton. They completed that first step by signing Michael Fulmer. Zack Britton remains unsigned as more reliever options continue to come off the board. Several Cubs blogs this week were mentioning that Britton could be coming to the Cubs soon. I was initially excited because that two part plan of mine would be coming to fruition. Then I made the mistake of looking back at Britton’s last few seasons.
Not only was he injured last season but he had injury problems in 2021 as well. At that point I changed my mind. I was completely prepared to sit down at the keyboard and write an opposition piece to all the other things being written elsewhere. The original focus of this space was going to be how I no longer wanted to risk signing an injury-prone Britton and think the Cubs should just go to work with what they have. However, I noticed something while I was looking at the Cubs depth chart in preparation for that. The Cubs have nobody outside of Drew Smyly, Justin Steele, and Brandon Hughes that throws left handed. Two of those guys will be in the starting rotation. So much for that idea. They need another left out in the bullpen.
Based on past performance alone, Zack Britton is the best option. He has a career ERA of 3.13 and 154 saves over 12 seasons. Britton was a past teammate of Trey Mancini so the Cubs might have an in there in convincing him to sign with the team. He was lights out as recently as 2020 but then the injury bug hit. He is also in his mid-30’s. At this point, I’m not sure that he can bounce back from those injuries.
Will Smith is also an option. The 33-year-old carries a 3.59 career ERA and has saved 91 game in 10 seasons. After 37 saves in 2021, Smith had 5 for Atlanta before finishing the 2022 with the champion Astros. He is younger, recent performance has been better, and has few question marks than Britton.
Also 35, MIke Minor is another option. Minor has spent most of his 11-year career as a started with brief periods in the bullpen due to injury issues. He finished the 2022 season on the IL due to a shoulder injury and was said to be considering retirement. WIth the offseason behind us and having had a chance to rest up his shoulder, Minor is said to be ready to go for 2022.
My order of preference is Smith, Britton, and then Minor. It’s hard looking at Britton’s career and saying that I would rather go with Smith. It comes down to age and with fewer question marks, Smith gives the Cubs a better chance to win. There is one thing for certain, the Cubs need to sign the best lefty reliever that they can.
Featured Image: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
Leave Your Thoughts!