The Cubs may be looking to add another pitcher or two to their bullpen this winter. The Cubs announced the signing of LHP Wesley Wright and have reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Jose Veras. The deal with Veras is pending a physical and the Cubs have not announced the signing yet. Even with the two additions and a potentially full 40-man roster, the Cubs have shown interest in RHP Jesse Crain and spoke with RHP Fernando Rodney before the news surfaced they agreed to terms with Jose Veras.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs have “expressed some interest” in RHP Jesse Crain and are checking his medicals. Levine indicated that the Cubs are not the only team checking on Crain’s right shoulder after he finished the season on the disabled list.
Jesse Crain was lights out for the White Sox last year before a right shoulder strain sent him to the DL in June. Crain was 2-3 with a 0.74 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 38 appearances for the Sox with 46 strikeouts, 11 walks and 31 hits allowed in 36 2/3 innings. Crain landed on the DL in June then tried to comeback in late July so the Sox could trade him prior to the deadline. Crain tried to throw a bullpen to show he was healthy enough to be traded but it was cancelled due to discomfort in his shoulder.
The Rays took a gamble on Jesse Crain and traded for him prior to the deadline. But the White Sox received a PTBNL in the deal and the return on Crain (conditional) depended on if he was healthy enough to pitch for Tampa. Crain was activated from the 60-day DL on Sept. 23 then placed back on the 60-day DL on Sept. 30 and did not throw a pitch for the Rays down the stretch last season. Crain was granted free agency on Oct. 31.
The Cubs had interest in Jesse Crain earlier in the off-season before they appeared to move on and focus on other veteran relievers. The Cubs are not the only team that has been linked to Crain this winter. The Astros and Rockies have also shown interest in Crain this off-season.
The Cubs interest in Fernando Rodney is unclear at best, especially after they reportedly agreed to terms with Jose Veras. Rodney told the Associated Press in the Dominican Republic that the Mariners, Indians, Cubs, Giants and Yankees have spoken to him about closing games (h/t to Chicago Cubs Rumors for the link). And Baltimore can be added to that list in the wake of the Orioles calling off the two-year, $15 million contract with Grant Balfour.
Fernando Rodney indicated last Thursday that he was not in a rush to sign a contract.
The Cubs’ front office appears to be exploring different ways to improve the bullpen so Rick Renteria does not have to deal with bad relief corps the way Dale Sveum did for two seasons. The Cubs added LHP Jonathan Sanchez on a minor league contract and he will compete for a spot in the pen during Spring Training. The Cubs have been connected to LHP Clayton Richard and RHP Joel Pineiro in recent days as well.