Cubs Sniffing Around Seth Maness at Workout

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cubs were among the teams scouting free agent pitcher Seth Maness at a recent workout. If you know the circumstances of his free agency and are thinking it’s a little crazy that the guy’s already throwing (and he actually started over a month ago), you’re not alone. The righty missed the latter portion of last season after suffering a torn UCL, an injury that would typically require Tommy John surgery and significantly longer time on the shelf.

As Goold chronicled in a fascinating column back in January, though, Maness opted for the lesser-known “primary repair” surgery, which involves the “repair and buttressing of the existing ligament at the bone” with a brace formed by Arthrex tape. The circumstances have to be pretty specific in order for this experimental procedure to be viable, but the recovery time is much shorter that with TJS. Because of that, Maness expects to be ready for opening day, less than eight months after the surgery.

Should the 28-year-old return to form, he’d be a really nice addition to any bullpen. Never a high-velocity guy — his fastball sits in the upper 80’s — Maness relies on a heavy sinker and a change to set off the four-seamer. He doesn’t generate a lot of whiffs, but a 3.38 career K/BB ratio you he doesn’t walk many guys either. He also keeps the ball in the yard and has a career ground-ball rate of 59.4% that would play well in front of the Cubs defense.

The Cardinals opted to non-tender Maness in his second year of arbitration eligibility rather than give him a raise over the $1.4 million he earned in 2016. Bidding should push his 2017 salary over the $1.6M MLB Trade Rumors had projected for him, but there’s intrinsic value in having three years of control before he can opt for free agency in 2020. Sounds like exactly the kind of bullpen arm Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are always looking for.

Plus, I’m a sucker for fun names. After missing out on Boone Logan, I think it’s only fair that the Cubs give us Maness (which, you know, rhymes with Uranus).

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