The Cubs are bringing back a member of their historic World Series-winning team.
The team has agreed to terms with reliever Carl Edwards Jr. on a minor-league deal with an invite to Spring Training, per reports. Edwards was a member of the Cubs’ bullpen in 2016 and pitched with the team from 2015 to 2019.
Free-agent reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and the Chicago Cubs are in agreement on a minor-league contract, according to a source familiar with the deal. Edwards posted a 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Nationals last season. The deal includes an invite to spring training.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 27, 2024
He’s pitched for six different teams across 9 seasons, spending the last two seasons in Washington, where he’s seen a bit of a career resurgence. Edwards, 32, was 7-6 with a 3.07 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 89 games and 93.2 innings with the Nationals. The righty figures to be in the mix for a bullpen spot during spring, where the Cubs have plenty of question marks.
In 2023, the Cubs had built a solid trio at the backend of their bullpen with Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay. But, by the end of the season, Leiter and Alzolay were down with injury and Merryweather was the lone healthy and trusted reliever for then-manager David Ross.
Many of the younger arms the Cubs were hoping to contribute — including names like Keegan Thompson and Brandon Hughes — never materialized. Some pitchers in the minor leagues that they anticipated to reach the majors and play a role never did either.
Adding veteran options like Edwards through spring invites should push some of those younger pitchers, while potentially giving new manager Craig Counsell some cover. The Cubs have had some success with veteran relievers on minor league deals with spring invites. Leiter was designated for assignment last winter, returned on a minor league deal and made the Opening Day roster. In 2022, Jesse Chavez was a camp invite who made the Opening Day roster.
As a rookie in 2016, Edwards developed into a key piece in the Cubs’ reliever corps that won the World Series. He had a pair of holds in 3.2 shutout innings in the NLDS and NLCS. In Game 7 of the World Series, manager Joe Maddon turned to Edwards for the 10th inning and Edwards picked up the first 2 outs before allowing a run-scoring single from Rajai Davis that trimmed the Cubs’ lead to 8-7. Mike Montgomery entered the game to pick up the final out and record the save.
He was a solid reliever the next two seasons for the Cubs, recording 48 holds with a 2.81 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 118.1 innings in 131 games. Edwards struggled in 2019, allowing 10 runs in 15.1 innings and was traded to the Padres for lefty pitcher Brad Wieck.
Edwards bounced around the next two seasons, pitching in 5 games with the Mariners in 2020 and then posting an 11.12 ERA and 2.47 WHIP across 7 games with the Braves and Blue Jays in 2021.