Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Cubs have signed righty reliever Brad Boxberger to a one-year deal worth $2.8 million. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors tweeted that the deal has a $2 million salary for 2023 with a $5 million mutual option that will almost assuredly be bought out for $800,000. We’ll have more on this shortly. The 34-year-old who once used phonetic emojis in place of a nickname for his Players Weekend jersey spent the last two years with the Brewers after pitching for the Marlins, Royals, Rays, and Padres.
Boxberger was a bullpen stalwart for the Brewers, appearing in 141 games and throwing 128.2 innings over those two seasons. Armed with a 93 mph fastball, a very firm slider that sits 87-88, and a changeup that has great velo separation at 81 mph, Boxberger’s simple repertoire has generated big strikeout numbers over the course of his career.
The Ks were down a little last season, though so were his home runs allowed. His swinging-strike rate actually dipped to a career-low 9.5% in 2022, a mark that tied him for 218th among 253 relievers with at least 30 innings. Boxberger’s 9.56 K/9, however, ranked 112th and his 25.4% K-rate was 108th. Those might not seem like outstanding numbers, but he clearly did a good job of putting batters away and getting swings at his pitches.
Also of note, Boxberger has pitched to reverse splits over the course of his career. That is likely something the Cubs valued given the lack of lefties in the arm barn at this point. They recently brought back southpaw Eric Stout on a minor league deal and Brandon Hughes is the only lefty on the 40-man roster at this point, so it’s not a bad idea to have righties who can get left-handed batters out.
Not a big move by any stretch, but the Cubs have proven year after year that they can put together a very solid bullpen. As such, I’m inclined to think this will work out well.