Chicago Cubs rumors confirm who the closer will be for the 2018 MLB season. Many Cubs fans may be surprised, though, based on the big names who have held down that role over the past few years. On Saturday (January 13), Cubs general manager Theo Epstein confirmed that the team will be going with Brandon Morrow as the closer.
A report by Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat confirmed the news on Twitter. While it's possible that the team could look to add another closer before the MLB trade deadline in July, it appears that Theo Epstein is content with opening the season with Morrow as the ninth-inning guy. Morrow will have a lot of eyes on him, especially with the hefty contract he just signed during the baseball offseason. Now Morrow will take center stage for a World Series contender.
There were a number of Chicago Cubs rumors about relief pitching this offseason, but the team then offered Brandon Morrow a three-year contract. Morrow will make $9 million in each of the first two seasons and then the team has a $12 million option for the 2020 MLB season. It comes with a buyout of $3 million should the team be displeased with his performance. The pay raise came from pitching well over the last three seasons, even though Morrow never saw heavy usage in the later innings.
Legends. #CubsCon pic.twitter.com/ix1GmH1vFIDuring the 2017 MLB season, Brandon Morrow pitched 42 and two-thirds innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished with a 2.06 ERA, a 0.916 WHIP, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and a perfect 6-0 record. Morrow spent part of the 2008 season as the closer for the Seattle Mariners, converting 10-of-12 save opportunities. Since then, he has mostly been used as a mop-up pitcher and setup guy. This will be the first time that a team has given him the ball as the primary closer.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 13, 2018
There will be a lot of save opportunities for Morrow during the 2018 MLB season, especially as the Cubs look to contend in the National League Central. This will make him a sought-after pitcher when fantasy baseball drafts get started this winter. It's unclear how high his value will be just yet, as he really hasn't had the opportunity to be a full-time closer before this point. If he continues his successes from the past three seasons, though, midseason Chicago Cubs rumors can focus more on starting pitching than relievers.