Bradley George Boxberger has been around for a little while. He was originally drafted by the Reds in 2009, and first saw the major leagues as a member of the San Diego Padres, where he got into 24 games as a reliever, threw 27⅔ innings with decent results, and returned to the bullpen the following September when rosters expanded.
Boxberger then embarked on an odyssey, spending quality time in Tampa, Arizona, Kansas City, Miami, and Milwaukee before he signed as a free agent with the Cubs for $2.8 million guaranteed and a mutual option for 2024.
He’s mostly been hurt this year, throwing just 251 pitches in 17 games. He’s allowed nine nine runs in those 14 innings, which isn’t good. The Cubs are likely hoping that his issues are injury-related, but they might not be, and he may be just another candidate for a change of scenery, like Michael Fulmer. Then again, he might actually have a right forearm strain.
Boxberger was pretty much lights-out in Milwaukee, and the Cubs pinned their hopes on that edition of the veteran, who hasn’t shown up yet. He was due to throw a bullpen Wednesday, June 7, to evaluate his progress. If all is well, he’s looking at a mid-to-late June return and we’re looking at a little more roster jenga.
Brad Boxberger is a three-pitch pitcher. He throws a four-seam fastball in the low 90s, a slider, and a changeup. His K percentage is way down and bases on balls are way up. Again, the hope is that those data were due to an injury and are not the actual state of his arm. We’ll find out. He was viewed as a potential closer by the Cubs, since he has some small experience in that position, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way.
Perhaps he can return and help stabilize the Cubs’ leaky bullpen. Some one has to, right? But he’s 35 and probably isn’t a long-term solution, no matter that The Athletic thought he was the best under-the-radar signing the Cubs made.
Much of my commentary regarding Michael Fulmer can be used just as easily here. I wouldn’t advise Boxberger to invest in Chicago-area real estate unless he’s into a speculative market. Maybe not even then — there are way better markets out there.
He’s not old in real-world terms, but 35 is a senior citizen in the great game of baseball, and one hopes that he invested his millions wisely and can spend time enjoying his wealth and raising his family.
That even if he returns to pitch and pitch well — time is not on his side. But the Cubs have need right now. The season might have already slipped away.