The Cubs are supposedly in agreement with Colten Brewer on a deal for 2024, according a post from Brewer’s own Instagram page. It’s not yet apparent if the partnership is a major or minor league pact.
Brewer, 31, was a fourth-round pick by the Pirates in the 2011 draft. After numerous years in the Pirates and Yankees farm systems, Brewer made his big league debut with the Padres in 2018 albeit the right-hander struggled to a 5.59 ERA across 11 appearances his first season. From there the right-hander joined the Red Sox, the club with whom he spent most of his time in the majors. In portions of three seasons with Boston, Brewer had a 4.98 ERA and 5.20 FIP across 81 1/3 innings of work. While he struck out a good 20.3% of hitters faced during that time while delivering a solid 50.4% groundball rate, Brewer walked a shocking 13.3% of batters encountered during his stint with the Red Sox.
Those control difficulties caused the team to designate Brewer for assignment back in June 2021. He was eventually outrighted to Triple-A and spent the remainder of the season in the minor leagues before signing a minor league deal with the Royals the following winter but was confined to the minor leagues for the entire 2022 season. During his 18-month stint at the Triple-A level, Brewer put up a relatively pedestrian 4.53 ERA across 57 2/3 innings of work while his walk rate remained over 10%.
That didn’t stop Brewer from arriving with the Rays on a minor league deal during the 2022-23 offseason, though he ultimately wouldn’t make it to Opening Day as a member of the team. The Rays instead got up with the Yankees on a minor deal before the start of the season that shipped Brewer to the Bronx, where he joined the club’s 40-man roster. He put up respectable enough performances in 8 1/3 innings of work for the big league club with a 4.32 ERA but was nonetheless designated for assignment in mid-April.
Brewer took an outright assignment with the Yankees and threw remarkably effectively in 20 innings with the club’s Triple-A affiliate, earning a 1.35 ERA with a stunning 29.9% strikeout rate. That brief flash of success gained Brewer attention from Nippon Professional Baseball’s Hanshin Tigers, and he signed with the club for the remainder of the 2023 season. Though he managed just 12 1/3 innings down the stretch in Japan, the excellent figures persisted. Brewer allowed an ERA of just 2.19 across 14 appearances overseas, striking out 30.2% of hitters faced while walking 11.3%.
Brewer’s stretch of domination in the upper minors and abroad last season has seemingly gotten the eye of the Cubs. Chicago is among a handful of clubs believed to be looking for relief help this winter along with the Cardinals, Rangers, and Astros. Brewer could theoretically bolster the depth of a club that saw the likes of Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger depart for free agency. With that being said, the arrival of Brewer appears unlikely to take the Cubs out of the relief market considering their reported interest in some higher-level weapons like former Rays righty Robert Stephenson and veteran closer Liam Hendriks. For now, Brewer looks to enter spring training with a shot at a spot in the club’s bullpen fighting alongside the likes of Daniel Palencia and Jose Cuas.