Feb. 14-- MESA, Ariz.-Sure, it helps to land the big blow of the offseason before spring training by adding marquee free agent Yu Darvish to a National League title contender.
But for the second consecutive day manager Joe Maddon reminded everyone that one player doesn't assure success, and the six free-agent pitchers joining the Cubs on Wednesday for their first workout reflect the organization's World Series goal.
"The fact we weren't content and brought in some new guys shows (management) wants to win," said left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, a free agent who was re-signed two weeks ago. "That proves that. We're trying to do what we can to get the right group of guys to get it done."
While Darvish garners most of the attention, much of the Cubs' fortunes could hinge on the stability of closer Brandon Morrow and starter Tyler Chatwood.
Morrow, 33, appreciates that even after he signed the Cubs informed him they were pursuing Wade Davis. Morrow believes his experience and maturity will help him succeed in a role he hasn't performed since 2008, when he finished 24 games with 10 saves for the Mariners.
"I probably wasn't prepared for that (then) as far as (possessing) command and the ability to go out on a daily basis and really compete," Morrow said. "My stuff was there and I was getting by on that mainly, but I consider myself a better pitcher now. All the experience over the last 10 years has prepared me well."
The Cubs showed enough faith in Morrow to sign him to a two-year, $21 million contract that includes a mutual option for 2020. Morrow, who has battled an array of ailments throughout his career, said he treated his hybrid relief duties with the Dodgers last season as if he was pitching the ninth inning-reserved for All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
"Over the past 10 years, I've seen it all," said Morrow, who posted a 2.06 ERA in 45 games while striking out 50, walking nine and not allowing a home run in 432/3 innings in 2017. "I have a much lower heart rate than I used to."
Maddon plans to handle Morrow as carefully as he tried to do with Davis, who signed a three-year, $52 million contract with the Rockies. Morrow's faith in the Cubs was so strong that he didn't visit Wrigley Field before agreeing to terms four days after Chatwood signed with the Cubs.
"They brought us in for a reason," Chatwood said. "If we do our jobs, everything else will take care of itself."
If Morrow struggles or needs a break, the Cubs can opt for fellow free-agent signee Steve Cishek or returnees Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop.
The Cubs made a three-year, $38 million commitment to Chatwood to be their fifth starter in the hope he can continue the success he enjoyed away from Coors Field the last two seasons for the Rockies.
Chatwood's 2.57 road ERA over that period trails only the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (2.16) for the lowest in the NL. Maddon raved about Chatwood's performance at Wrigley Field on June 8 in which he scattered four hits over six innings in a 4-1 Rockies victory.
The Cubs were an easy sell for Chatwood, who made two trips to Chicago this winter "to see the (scouting reports and analytics) they have. What they bring to the table is very in-depth, and I haven't seen anything like it."
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