The free agent pitching market is starting to thaw and the prices could present an expensive situation for the Cubs and other pitching-thirsty teams.

The biggest beneficiary of Mike Minor’s reported three-year, $28 million contract is Brandon Morrow, whose durability and performance was slightly better than Minor, who missed the 2015-16 seasons because of a left shoulder injury that required surgery but rebounded in 2017 with a a 2.55 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings with the Royals.

Minor, whom the Cubs were interested in before the July 31 trade deadline, could revert to a starting role that he held with the Braves earlier in his career.

Morrow, meanwhile, caught the attention of Cubs manager Joe Maddon well before the 2017 National League Championship Series, in which Morrow allowed only one hit while striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings covering four appearances.

"To me, the guy (Morrow) really is kind of like their CJ (Edwards) is Morrow," Maddon said before Game 4 of the NLCS. "This guy is really good.”

Maddon recalled Morrow, then a starter for the Blue Jays, missing out on a no-hitter after Evan Longoria hit an infield single with two outs in the ninth inning against the Rays — then managed by Maddon — on Aug. 8, 2010.