2024 Cubs Free Agent Target: Jarlin Garcia
Allan Henry - USA Today Sports

2024 Cubs Free Agent Target: Jarlin Garcia

by - Senior Writer -

With Spring Training set to start in three weeks and pitchers and catchers ready to report in just over two, it is hard to believe that so many free agents are left unsigned on the open market. The Cubs could use some of those free agents as Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman continue to be the focal points of the Cubs discussions, but there is still the possibility that the Cubs may look to add another piece to the bullpen.

Adding Hector Neris was a massive pickup for this team, but one thing they lack at this point is lefties, with Drew Smyly being the lone lefty. With Matt Moore and Aroldis Chapman both off the market, the Cubs are left searching for answers as two of the better lefties are no longer in play. We discussed Wandy Peralta as an option the other day, which could still happen, but some lesser-known names could be worth a look.

Jarlin Garcia is one of those names, as he could be a last-minute addition to this team heading into spring. When you look at how Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have constructed their bullpens over the past few seasons, Neris was the first reliever they have spent at least nine million on since giving Craig Kimbrel 43 million back in 2020. Although that is an unorthodox approach, the Cubs have been known for doing reclamation project deals, and for the most part, they have done well with those kinds of deals.

You saw that with Mark Leiter Jr and Julian Merryweather last season, as both proved to be two of the better relievers in the National League and played a massive role in the Cubs success in the first five months of the season. Garcia could be the next pitcher to fall into that category, as the Cubs could use another bullpen arm and a lefty at that.

As things sit, Smyly is the only lefty that is likely to be in the pen when the season starts, with Luke Little expected to get significant consideration. Leiter Jr and Neris are better against lefties than righties, so you have more left-handed options than some would think. However, with the three-batter minimum continuing to be a thing and managers having more options to go with off the bench, you need at least two lefties to get by for the duration of the season.

Garcia would give the Cubs a second lefty or third, depending on the Little status, and at 31 years old, the Cubs wouldn't have to overpay for his services. Garcia dealt with some health issues during the 2023 season, but when he was healthy, he pitched in at least 50 games in four of his six seasons since debuting with the Miami Marlins in 2017. That is the kind of durability that the Cubs will be looking for out of their pen, as Craig Counsell depends a ton on his bullpen during the season.

His best season came during the COVID-shortened season, and yes, although it was a small sample size, you could see how good he can be. Garcia was nearly untouchable in 19 games that season as he posted a 0.49 ERA for the Giants and was a massive part of their pen. He followed that up by going 6-3 with a 2.62 ERA across 58 games in 2021 and then 1-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 58 games in 2022.

That run that Garcia went on put him in the mix as one of the more reliable lefties in the game until he blew out his elbow during the spring of last season. That makes this more of a flyer type of deal, as Garcia will not be ready to pitch to open spring but is expected to be ready by May.

Injured or not, the Cubs know they need more left-handers in pen, and Garcia would not only give them a proven left-handed option but one that would come cheap and could be the classic low-risk, high-reward pickup. He is a proven pitcher who has pitched in many different roles, and that alone is something Counsell would love to have.

When you look at Garcia and his overall pitch mix, it all starts with a fastball that sits around 93-94 MPH. Like most pitchers, Garcia can get more on that pitch if he needs it, but he doesn't do that as often as you would think. With that fastball comes an 87 MPH change and an 84 MPH slider to give him a three-pitch mix, although his fastball is used nearly 2/3 of the time. This could be a name the Cubs look to add as spring gets underway, hoping to get him by midseason at the latest.

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