And appropriately enough, I was standing in a Target when word trickled out that the club had acquired their target.
In a store jam-packed with crazed holiday shoppers, I was huddled off in a corner somewhere near the women's clothing section (trying desperately to avoid being run over by a soccer mom with a shopping cart), when the news of Morrow's deal with the Cubs started to show up my Twitter feed. The news of his two-year, $21 million contract (plus a $3MM buyout or a $12MM vesting option for the 2020 season) with my favorite baseball team was a welcome respite from the chaos surrounding me.
Luckily for me, I remembered that I had this wonderfully shiny 2013 Archives Orange Day-Glo parallel (which were exclusive to hobby shops) sitting in my trade stacks. This beauty will slot nicely into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder, at least until his first card as a Cub hits the market.
Welp. So much for getting a Brandon Morrow card in a Dodger uniform to remember the 2017 postseason. Topps will make damn sure he's a Cub.— NightOwlCards (@nightowlcards) December 10, 2017
Sorry, Night Owl!
It's even numbered /199, which, coincidentally, I believe is exactly how many other shoppers were packed into that section of Target with me. Can you tell I don't like Christmas shopping?
Anyway, back to the target rather than the Target, Brandon Morrow looks likely to slide into the closer's role for 2018. With this front office hesitant to shell out big-time bucks to relievers, Wade Davis has probably priced himself out of the Cubs' comfortable range. While Morrow's contract isn't exactly a small commitment, it's sure to be dwarfed by what Wade's eventual deal. Therefore, the club will now have their fifth different closer in five consecutive seasons. After the season Brandon had with the Dodgers last year - 6-0, 2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 50 K's in 43.2 innings without allowing a single home run - he seems like a good candidate to replace the dominant Davis.
Based on last year's statistics, the two-year contract with an option looks awesome, much like the photo on this 2012 Opening Day single. However, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the inherent risks and flaws that come with the deal... much like the Photoshop/airbrushing job that serves as a distraction on the same card.
Morrow and the disabled list are no strangers - he's dealt with lingering shoulder issues since his days with the Blue Jays, Padres, and Mariners, including season-ending surgery to correct a shoulder impingement in 2015. Compounding this issue is the fact that Morrow appeared in 14 of the Dodgers' 15 postseason games, seemingly running out steam by the time the World Series rolled around. That being said, I'm quite happy about this acquisition. After all, all free-agent pitchers come with inherent risks; that's the game you have to play to acquire top-tier pitching (and you aren't going to find better than Morrow) on the free-agent market.
...much like the calculated risk I took by stepping into a big-box retailer within two weeks of Christmas.
Eventually, I was able to navigate my way out of that cramped Target with our gift-wrapping and my wife's new shirts. When I finally arrived back at out apartment, I felt like a castaway reaching land for the first time in months. In order to bring my heart rate back down to an acceptable level, I began to flip through my trade boxes and found the three Morrows you see in this post. One of that trio was the above single from Tristar's 2006 edition of Prospects Plus, from when Brandon was a zygote of a prospect with the rookie-level Arizona League Mariners. This one will look perfect in my minor league Cubs binder.
So, to sum things up, the Cubbies were able to plug two of their major holes on the roster before the Winter Meetings even officially began. This week should prove to be an exciting one, with perhaps the signing of Alex Cobb and another late-inning reliever being major objectives of Theo and Jed while they are in Florida. Plus, the trade winds are gusting, with the much-ballyhooed Ohtani and Stanton deals finally happening, which had been constipating the market. All in all, this is going to be an interesting week of Hot Stove happenings!
Oh and welcome to Chicago, Brandon... I hope you already completed your holiday shopping because our Targets are nuts right now!