After their pleas for free-agent slugger Bryce Harper fell on deaf ears and empty wallets, Cubs fans shouldn’t expect a major acquisition to address some of the dents the team’s bullpen has suffered this spring.
“I don’t foresee anything significant at this time at all,” team President Theo Epstein said Thursday, two weeks before the March 28 opener against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
Epstein remained optimistic that Pedro Strop would recover in time from a left hamstring strain. The Cubs already will be without closer Brandon Morrow for the first month as he works his way back from right elbow surgery. Brad Brach’s velocity has hovered only in the upper 80s. And left-hander Mike Montgomery didn’t make his spring debut until Tuesday because of left shoulder stiffness.
In addition, left-hander Xavier Cedeno, a late free-agent signee, won’t be ready for the start of the season because of a sore left wrist.
“It’s better, if you’re going to have these (injuries), to have them now,” Epstein said. “Hopefully it will lead to a period of health later on.”
Seven-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel remains available, but Epstein likes the team’s in-house choices.
“I’ve been impressed by the depth,” Epstein said. “We have overall (better) pen depth this year than we’ve had in the past. Some of the arms we’ll be able to have in the Triple-A bullpen are guys we’ll be very comfortable calling up. That depth will help us get through.”
For now, the Cubs will rely on Brian Duensing and Brandon Kintzler, both of whom are coming off rough seasons and will earn a combined $8.5 million.