The Chicago Cubs have signed free agent relief pitcher Jason Motte to a one-year contract for $4.5 million plus games finished incentives. The deal is pending a physical with financials reported by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
The former closer for the St. Louis Cardinals had returned from May 2013 Tommy John surgery in 2014, but with diminished velocity, his trademark fastball was more hittable. Though healthy, Motte was left off the post-season roster after logging a 4.68 ERA in 29 games.
Eligible for free agency for the first time, Motte was apparently not extended an offer to return to St. Louis for 2015. Instead, the club acquired reliever Jordan Walden in trade and signed Matt Belisle as a free agent.
Motte, 32, first joined the organization in the 19th round of the 2003 draft as a catcher and switched to pitching in 2006. He reached the majors in 2008 and became closer late in the 2011 season. His 53 saves from 2010-12 ranked 11th among National League relievers.
The right-hander finishes the St. Louis segment of his career with a 3.03 ERA to go with an 18-13 record and 54 saves over six seasons. Motte also has a 2.08 ERA and eight saves in 19 post-season appearances in 2009, the World Championship year of 2011 and 2012.
Motte has been very popular with fans. One of the most active Cardinals in the community, he leads a very successful campaign to raise cancer awareness.
In terms of Motte’s future role, it is unclear. The Cubs have an incumbent closer in Hector Rondon. The games-finished clause in Motte’s contract does not assure that he will be given a chance to close games in 2015 and no one knows how he might fare on the mound this coming season.
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