The Cubs are expected to sign swingman Steven Brault, sources tell Cubs Insider. The lefty is familiar to the organization from pitching against them frequently as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last six seasons and fans probably remember him as the guy with the very intricate and colorful sleeve tattoos. Brault, who will turn 30 in late April, has split time between the rotation and the bullpen with 52 starts out of 107 career MLB appearances.
My initial expectation was that it would be a minors deal with an invitation to camp, but it’s a major league deal and Brault will have a chance to fight for a spot in a rotation that is still in flux. He’ll do so with a mix that includes a 91 mph fastball and a solid slider that makes up about 21% of his pitches. He’s also got a change, sinker, and occasional curve.
The Cubs have lost pitching depth with Codi Heuer out for the year following elbow reconstruction and Adbert Alzolay shelved for two months or more with a right lat issue, so Brault offers necessary depth. But his upside is limited and he doesn’t offer the kind of dynamism they need in a rotation that is, for lack of a better word, boring.
Not that boring necessarily means bad, it’s just that the Cubs don’t have the kind of stuff from 1-5 that figures to drive a very competitive team. That could change if they all pitch up to their ceilings and some of the younger guys show out, so we’ll just have to wait and see.