Cubs News & Notes – 12/9/16: Fowler Getting Physical in St. Louis, Cubs Sign RHP Uehara, Peripherals Matter

The Baseball Winter Meetings are officially over but there are still lots of free agents left to be signed and trades to be made before teams reconvene at their respective spring training camps. Of course, a lot of teams out there will have a slightly different feel to them after signing a free agent or two or making a splash with a big trade, such as the Cubs did on Wednesday when they signed RHP Wade Davis. And with most of the Cubs offseason moves likely complete, it’s time for the Cubs to sit back as World Series Champions and watch all the other teams scramble to catch up with the new America’s Team.

  • The Cubs won’t have to wait long until they find out where Dexter Fowler will be landing. In fact, Dexter is in St. Louis this morning to take a physical for the Cardinals per multiple reports. Subject to the passing of that physical, there is a planned press conference set to take place this morning where the Cardinals will likely announce that Mr. Fowler is a member of the team.

  • I’ll save my diatribe until after the deal gets announced but, suffice it to say, there’s not one Cubs’ fan who’s happy about him going to the Cardinals. Of course, that’s balanced with the fact that we all love Dex and what he brought to this team as a lively and charismatic member of the Cubs World Championship run. That, and it’s nice to know that the Cubs will get the Cardinals 19th overall first round draft pick too.
  • The Cubs continued to keep their promise yesterday to further upgrade the bullpen when they signed RHP Koji Uehara to a one-year $4.5 million deal. Koji, who’s set to turn 42 on April 3, 2017, is quite an intriguing add for the Cubs, and a low-risk one at that. He is a reverse split guy – meaning he’s more effective getting left-handed batters out than righties – which you don’t see often. Opponents slashed .139/.200/.278 from the left side of the plate last year against him and .250/.306/.505 from the right side of the plate. He also boosts an impressive 34.2 K% and an ultra-low 6.0 BB%.
  • One interesting note on Uehara is that while almost all of his peripherals are quite good, his ERA is higher than you’d expect at 3.45. I dug around a bit and found out that last year his ERA exploded in high-leverage situations, where he posted an 8.00 ERA. He pitched 9.0 innings in high leverage situations in 2016 and allowed 8 runs (FanGraphs) over 47.0 total innings pitched. If you were to remove the high leverage innings from his stats his ERA is a sparkling 2.30 over the remaining 39.0 innings pitched. You can bet that Theo and company took note of that fact, which is what makes this a much more exciting pick-up than it looks like on the surface.
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