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BCB After Dark: Deciding the fate of the bullpen

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if they Cubs should non-tender a pair of releivers.

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

So glad to see you again here at BCB After Dark: the hippest happening for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and grab a table. There are still a few good ones available. Let us take your coat. The show is going to start shortly. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Tonight, the Rangers finished off the Orioles with a 7-1 rout to sweep the best-of-five Division Series. Honestly, there wasn’t much to recommend this game if you weren’t a Rangers fan. Still, were it the Cubs, I’d take a series sweep with nothing but dull wins for the Cubs than whatever that almost nightmare of World Series was in 2016. As great as it was in retrospect, I hate to admit how close it came to finishing me off.

Additionally, my dream of a World Series blizzard took a hit as the Astros romped over the Twins, 9-1. Still, that only gives Houston a two-games-to-one advantage in the best-of-five Division Series. I can still dream of a white World Series.

Last night I asked you about possibly non-tendering a pair of Cubs third basemen who are eligible for arbitration. Fully 49 percent of you want the Cubs to non-tender Patrick Wisdom. I suppose Wisdom could take some solace in that 49 percent is less than half, except 17 percent of you want to non-tender Wisdom and Nick Madrigal, so it’s actually 66 percent. Another 24 percent of you would keep both players and only 11 percent would keep Wisdom and non-tender Madrigal.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I don’t normally do a film essay. But I always have time for some jazz, so those of you who skip that can do so now. You won’t hurt my feelings.

In honor of the best television show of the 1980s, Moonlighting, being made available for streaming as of today, I thought I’d feature Al Jarreau singing the theme song from that show in 1987. This is from the UK show Top of the Pops, believe it or not.

Welcome back to those of you who skip the music.

I said last night that if I couldn’t come up with anything better, I’d revisit Al’s article about the projected arbitration figures for Cubs players and ask you who should get non-tendered.

While it’s an interesting question about whether to offer Mike Tauchman a contract, I think that after his season last year, his value as a 4th-outfielder is easily worth $2 million, either to the Cubs or another team that they could trade him to. So that pretty much leaves the relievers.

It’s a no-brainer that Adbert Alzolay will be offered a contract. I very much doubt that Nick Burdi will get offered one, although it’s certainly possible, as Al noted, that he gets offered a minor-league deal after the Cubs decline to offer him a major league contract. He might accept that. He might not.

I think that the Cubs have stuck with Codi Heuer this long—he hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years—and he’s projected to earn barely above the major-league minimum. While I wouldn’t bet my house on it, I suspect Heuer will be back. Whether he’s healthy enough to pitch is another matter.

So that leaves two Cubs relief pitchers who, at times last season, were terrific and at other times were not so terrific. The first is right-hander Mark Leiter Jr., who is projected to make $1.6 million in arbitration for next year.

A cursory glance of Leiter’s stats would indicate that it’s a no-brainer to offer him a contract. Leiter finished the year with a record of 1-3, an ERA of 3.50 and four saves and 28 holds.

But a deeper dive shows some issues. For one, Leiter was pretty bad down the stretch in September, posting an ERA of 8.59 with two crucial blown saves. Secondly, Leiter will be 33 by Opening Day and his production this year was above what he could have “expected.” Leiter’s expected ERA last year was 4.10.

The other reliever the Cubs have to make a decision on is right-hander Julian Merryweather, who is projected to earn $1.3 million. Merryweather had the best year of his career last year, posting a record of 5-1 with an ERA of 3.38. He had two saves and 17 holds as he settled into the eighth-inning role in the second-half of the season. Unlike Leiter, Merryweather’s expected ERA wasn’t that far off his actual ERA at 3.63. Merryweather also didn’t have that much of a drop-off in September like many other Cubs relievers. He did have a poor month of July, but he bounced back from that.

Merryweather’s big issue is that he walks too many people. Last year he walked 36 batters in 72 innings. On top of that, he’s only a year younger than Leiter. Merryweather turns 32 on Saturday. And like Leiter, Merryweather hasn’t seen much success before he came to the Cubs.

So it’s the same question tonight as last night. Do you offer a contract to Leiter and/or Merryweather and keep them around for next season? Or do you non-tender them to free agency? Like last night, the Cubs have enough money to keep both of them. But should they, in your opinion.

Should the Cubs non-tender either reliever? Remember, saying “yes” means that you are willing to let them leave for free agency and “no” means you want them around for next season.


Which Cubs reliever should be non-tendered?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Mark Leiter Jr.
    (90 votes)
  • 4%
    Julian Merryweather
    (12 votes)
  • 43%
    (110 votes)
  • 15%
    (39 votes)
251 votes total Vote Now

Thank you so much for stopping by this evening. We hope you had some good time talking baseball after a couple of dull playoff games today. Unless you’re a Texas baseball fan. Then carry on. Please get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.