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Cubs release Brandon Morrow

It was a worthwhile attempt... that worked for half a season.

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Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Brandon Morrow’s 12-year big-league career included 334 appearances, 113 starts, four complete games and 40 saves.

It also included nine stints on the disabled/injured list, multiple surgeries and even a week missed when he hurt himself taking off his pants after returning from a Cubs road trip in 2018.

“Just undressing at my house,” Morrow, who has 16 saves this season, told reporters on Tuesday. “Like 3 a.m., in the closet, got my right leg off. Left one just felt like a spasm in my back. It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go because of something stupid like taking your pants off.

“Getting hurt any time’s frustrating, but when it’s not related to throwing a baseball it’s even that much more frustrating.”

Now, Morrow’s Cubs career — and likely his MLB career — is over:

The Cubs released Morrow, according to Baseball America’s transactions list Wednesday. The Cubs left Morrow off their 60-man summer training camp roster June 28.

Morrow’s comeback attempt was stunted this spring by shoulder and calf injuries. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Morrow underwent surgery to repair a nerve, which likely would have made him unavailable to pitch this season.

“We didn’t see a realistic scenario where he would contribute this year,” Cubs President Theo Epstein said after the summer roster was announced. “We certainly wish him the best going forward, in and out of baseball.”

It was a worthwhile attempt, the Cubs’ signing of Morrow to a two-year, $21 million deal with a third-year option (for 2020, which was declined) prior to the 2018 season. Despite the injury history, Morrow had been dominant for the Dodgers during the second half of 2017 and L.A.’s postseason that year, with no signs of any previous injury.

It worked, for half a season. Morrow posted a 1.47 ERA, 1.076 WHIP and 22 saves in 24 opportunities in the first half of 2018. He allowed runs in just three of his 35 appearances (the two blown saves and one other game the Cubs won anyway) and even for just half a season, that produced 1.4 bWAR, which is excellent for a reliever. The photo above is from his final appearance, July 15, 2018 at San Diego. He allowed one hit in a scoreless inning and posted a save in a 7-4 Cubs win over the Padres.

But injuries prevented him from throwing a single pitch after the 2018 All-Star break, mostly elbow-related. Who knows, perhaps the 2018 season turns out differently if Morrow stays healthy, all the team had to do was win one more game to avoid the tiebreaker with the Brewers and thus stay out of the wild-card game that year. Unfortunately, without Morrow available the Cubs were forced to use Pedro Strop as closer. That worked, for a time; Strop converted 11 of 13 save opportunities until he, too, got hurt, and we don’t have to re-hash that again.

Give some credit to Morrow, he signed a minor-league deal and had he been healthy, he would have played for $1 million in a 162-game season this year, less on a pro-rated basis. He apparently felt he owed the Cubs something after not playing at all for a year and a half.

I’d assume his career is probably over at this point; Morrow turns 36 in about two weeks and if Theo’s comment is correct, if someone signed him for 2021, he wouldn’t have thrown a pitch in almost three years. Theo’s statement (noting “this year”) leaves the door slightly open for a minor-league deal again for Morrow in 2021, but I suspect the Cubs will move on.

I wish Morrow luck in his future endeavors and hope he’ll be more careful putting his pants on. Give him credit, at least he had a sense of humor about that: