Cubs signing lefty Richard Lovelady
Stan Szeto - USA Today Sports

Cubs signing lefty Richard Lovelady

by - Senior Writer -

If only the Cubs were adding people to their MLB roster as quickly as they are to their MILB roster, then this team would be in business. That hasn't been the case this offseason, but at least Jed Hoyer and company continue to stockpile depth in an already deep farm system.

Known as a team that loves to do flyer deals for a potential Reclamation project, Hoyer has been actively searching the market and was very busy on Monday morning. Already with Sam McWilliams and Blake Weiman added on Minor League deals, Hoyer struck again with a potential value pick and added left-hander Richard Lovelady on a minor league deal.

One thing we always talk about when discussing baseball is that you can never have too many relief options and lefties at that. Lovelady is not only another relief option but a lefty that the current Cubs' MLB roster doesn't have much of. On what was a day of reclamation projects, Lovelady not only fits that description but at 28 years old, matches the same age as the other two pickups, which is a fun nugget to discuss.

Unlike the previous acquisitions that were discussed, this is a bit more of an upside pickup as Lovelady has had some MLB experience with the Oakland As and Kansas City Royals. His time with the Royals in 2021 put him on the map as he came out of nowhere to put together a strong portion of the season.

A 10th-round pick by the Royals in 2016, Lovelady was a reliever from day one and worked his way up through the Royals system. In 149 games, spanning more than 200 innings, Lovelady was impressive as he went on to post a 10-9 record with a 2.24 ERA. He added 230 strikeouts and 32 saves, proving he was worth a shot in the MLB.

The Royals felt that way, too, but after posting a 7.65 ERA in 20 games during the 2019 season, Lovelady once again found himself battling for an opportunity to prove himself. That chance came two years later as Lovelady worked his way back onto the Royals 2021 roster and went on to pitch very well.

Across 20 games that season, Lovelady went 2-0 while posting a 3.48 ERA. His six walks to 23 strikeouts in 20 innings was a great sign as he was starting to show why he was working his way through the system as easily as he did. Despite all that success, Lovelady found out the hard way that you can lose that success in the blink of an eye as his elbow popped, forcing him to miss the entire 2022 season due to Tommy John.

After signing a one-year deal with Oakland ahead of the 2023 season, Lovelady was hoping for that to be his comeback season, only to have a pectoral injury cut that season short. Even at that, Lovelady still pitched in a career-high 27 games this past season with a 4.63 ERA in what was otherwise another miserable season for the A's.

Given everything he has gone through the past few seasons, Lovelady was the perfect candidate to take part at the Driveline Academy, where the Cubs and their scouts came across him. Not only did Lovelady pitch well to earn this deal with the Cubs, but he is also going to a pitch-friendly organization known for turning the careers around for many pitchers.

Should he remain healthy all season, there is a good chance that Lovelady will earn some time on the Northside this summer, which would be a win-win for both parties. That is a discussion to be had on another day, as Lovelady will come to spring on a minor league deal, looking to prove he is worth a shot. He won't be alone, however, as he will be one of four reclamation project lefties getting innings this spring battling Edwin Escobar, Thomas Pannone, and Weiman.

What gives Lovelady the best shot is that he has MLB experience and the most recent MLB experience and was pitching very well during those games. Armed with a fastball in the 92-94 MPH range, Lovelady was seen consistently sitting close to 94 at the Driveline and even touched 96 and 97 a few times. That is what Driveline aims to do. For whatever reason, pitchers who attend that academy throw harder than they were going in.

Along with that comes his change up at 87 MPH, while his 85 MPH slurve could be his best pitch. Either way, he is a lefty who uses three pitches very well, which is a rarity in today's game regarding bullpen arms. Of all the Minor League Deals the Cubs have done, this makes the most sense and has the best chance to pay dividends.

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