Cubs’ Non-Pursuit of Brett Cecil Further Clarifies Bullpen Strategy

The Cubs would love to add a legit lefty to their bullpen. After being converted to a relief role in 2013, Brett Cecil has been exactly that. Thing is, he’s already signed with the Cardinals for $30.5 million over four years. That’s not exactly Mike Leake money, but it’s also not a pittance for a reliever who’s had some injury issues in the past.

And that may be why, as Joel Sherman reported, the Cubs were outbid for the southpaw’s services. Actually, though, that might be a bit of a misnomer. The Cubs probably didn’t bid at all, at least not formally. But they were in the auction house with paddle in hand, which may have caused the Redbirds’ brass to get jumpy and overspend a little.

Sherman also mentioned Boone Logan as a potential Yankees target, and other reports have linked the Mariners to the high-strikeout lefty as well. Though not mentioned explicitly, it figures that the Cubs would be on the lot kicking the tires with those teams.

MLB Trade Rumors had predicted that the 32-year-old former White Sox pitcher would return to his original team on a very palatable two-year, $12 million deal, but that’s obviously not gospel. Given that Cecil got an extra year and $12.5M more than what had been projected for him, you might expect Logan to command higher price tag.

So would the Cubs look to him to add him add the wolverine to their pen or does he end up as someone else’s Weapon X?

Unlike Cecil, who has had relatively even splits against both righties and lefties in his time as a reliever, Logan is clearly better against lefty hitters (.669 OPS allowed vs. .854 to righties). And while both are pretty comparable when it comes to strikeouts, the new Cardinal has been better in terms of limiting walks. Cecil has posted 2.15 and 1.96 walks per 9 innings in last two seasons, Logan has a career average of 3.95 BB/9.

What I’m driving at here is that the Cubs felt Cecil’s price was too high, and he was a better option than Logan. Which is to say that they’re not looking to pay a premium to stock the bullpen, even when the pitcher in question fits the bill for one of their needs. I really do think they’re going to continue to sift through the bargain bin to come away with a couple guys who can be had for somewhere in the $4 million AAV range, if not significantly less in some cases.

As we’ve seen from this team in the past, the bullpen is not a set group from which they need perfect health and performance. Rather, it’s a battle of attrition in which the Cubs are going to stockpile arms and hope that a few overcome injuries and/or inconsistency to make a few flashes in the pan. I really don’t have much of an idea at this point who that might be and I think they’ll continue to lie low until the CBA is ironed out. As the offseason progresses, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will keep turning stones over and looking around for what fits.

And though I remain very skeptical of their desire to spend big on a reliever, I still won’t completely rule it out. Depending on how the market is setting up and and how things look once December rolls around and the market really starts moving, we could see a bold move. Again, I don’t expect it. I wouldn’t be shocked either.

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