Cubs

In process of retooling bullpen, Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Brandon Kintzler

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USA TODAY

In process of retooling bullpen, Cubs have reportedly shown interest in Brandon Kintzler

A guy Cubs hitters saw in the playoffs this year might be a candidate to join the North Side bullpen.

According to a report from Jon Morosi, the Cubs have shown interest in free-agent reliever Brandon Kintzler.

The Cubs just saw Kintzler in their National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals, the 33-year-old righty appearing in three games during that five-game series. They tagged him for a couple runs over his 3.1 innings of work, scoring a run apiece in Games 3 and 5.

Cubs fans might also remember Kintzler as a longtime Milwaukee Brewer. He pitched for the Cubs' I-94 rivals for six seasons before heading to the Minnesota Twins ahead of the 2016 campaign. He was dealt from the Twins to the Nationals at the July 31 trade deadline earlier this year.

Kintzler worked as the Twins' closer in 2016 and 2017, picking up 45 saves and finishing 77 games. In the last two seasons with the Twins and Nationals, he posted a 3.08 ERA in 125.2 innings of work. His best season in Milwaukee came back in 2013, when he had a career-best 2.69 ERA in a career-high 77 innings.

The Cubs are in the process of retooling their bullpen, though as of right now, it's unknown how things will look come Opening Day. Most notably, closer Wade Davis is on the free-agent market. So too is Brian Duensing. The Cubs opted not to tender a 2018 contract to Hector Rondon last week. And they have considered Brandon Morrow, one of the most prominent free-agent relievers, an option to close.

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, the Cubs were interested in a pair of relievers who signed with teams this week: Miles Mikolas, who went to the St. Louis Cardinals, and Mike Minor, who signed with the Texas Rangers.

As for guys who figure to be in the mix, the Cubs added free-agent reliever Dario Alvarez last week. Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. remain under contract, as does Mike Montgomery, who might or might not wind up in the starting rotation. Contracts were tendered to Justin Grimm and Justin Wilson.

CubsTalk Podcast: The cost to get Chris Archer and how Brandon Morrow can fill an Andrew Miller-esque role

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AP

CubsTalk Podcast: The cost to get Chris Archer and how Brandon Morrow can fill an Andrew Miller-esque role

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Tony Andracki and Kelly Crull break down where Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly fit in the Cubs' pitching plans while Kyle Schwarber craziness reaches new heights.

Peter Gammons and Bob Nightengale weigh Schwarber’s trade value and how likely it may be that the Cubs could secure a Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer this winter. Nightengale also explains how Brandon Morrow could fill an Andrew Miller-esque role for the Cubs.

Plus, Cubs manager Joe Maddon stops by the CubsTalk Podcast to chat with Kelly about his offseason gameplan and why he’s still such a staunch believer in rest even when away from baseball.

Listen to the entire podcast here:

Where Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly fit in Cubs pitching plans for 2018 and beyond

Where Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly fit in Cubs pitching plans for 2018 and beyond

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Brandon Morrow is officially official as a member of the Cubs pitching staff (finally), and the team also added another intriguing arm Tuesday night at the Winter Meetings.

The Cubs announced a two-year deal for Morrow with a club/vesting option for 2020. They also signed left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly on a two-year deal worth a reported $10 million, though the 28-year-old pitcher had Tommy John in June and likely won't contribute much in 2018.

The Cubs are looking toward the future with Smyly as a possible 2019 rotation piece. If he's able to return at all in 2018, it will probably only be as a bullpen option.

"This is a move that’s focused on 2019," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday night. "Really good high-quality starting pitcher, and we’re excited to get him on this deal, rehab him and hopefully get him back to exactly where he was.”

Smyly did not pitch at all in 2017 and was non-tendered by the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 1. He made 30 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays (and new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey) in 2016, going 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA. Joe Maddon also managed Smyly for a couple months at the end of the 2014 season.

“Both [Hickey and Maddon] liked him a lot," Hoyer said. "We talked to Jim about him, thinks really highly of him, says he’s exceptionally deceptive with how he pitches.

"Both his fastball and his curveball are really deceptive, good cutter and loves how he competes. So Jim was a big part of us wanting to do this.”

Smyly was one of the pieces that went from the Detroit Tigers to the Rays for David Price at the trade deadline in 2014. In his first 19 starts with the Rays between 2014 and 2015, Smyly went 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 114.1 innings.

With Smyly not expected to impact 2018's rotation, the Cubs might still be in the market for another starting pitcher this winter, or they might choose to honor Mike Montgomery's wishes and insert him into the rotation full-time (and subsequently look for a potential swingman for the bullpen and rotation depth).

It'd be hard to just hand Smyly a spot in the 2019 Cubs rotation, but the Cubs committing somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million on a two-year deal indicates they're serious about his long-term potential. Plus, he won't turn 30 until June 2019.

The Cubs also have their other four starters — Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood — all signed through the 2020 season, so either they won't be in hard on long-term free-agent signings like Alex Cobb or would just stockpile pitching and sort out any possible six-man rotation issues a year from now.

As of right now, Morrow would serve as the Cubs' closer, but they're still in the market for impact relief pitching and are open to anything. Morrow is also a guy that could slot in as a setup man or high-leverage guy coming in at the most opportune time in the game, even if that means the fifth or sixth inning.

“Did an awesome job in the eighth inning last year for the Dodgers," Hoyer said. "We’re excited to have him. He’s going to pitch super high-leverage innings. If the season started tomorrow and we played a game, he’d be our closer.”