MLB Hot Stove signings: Cubs reportedly bring back Brian Duensing for two years

The Cubs have agreed to bring back left-handed reliever Brian Duensing on a two-year, $7 million deal, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Heyman further reports that Duensing had higher offers elsewhere, so a reunion with the Cubs appears to have been his preferred destination all along. 

Duensing, 34, had one of the best years of his career with the Cubs in 2017. He pitched to a 2.74 ERA (159 ERA+), 1.22 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings, moving from a trash-time reliever to one of Joe Maddon's key late-inning guys in the process. 

With Duensing, the Cubs' bullpen figures to be complete. It'll look something like this: 

Closer: Brandon Morrow
Setup: Carl Edwards, Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek
Lefties: Duensing, Justin Wilson
Long: Mike Montgomery (assuming they land another starter)

That leaves Justin Grimm as an extra. 

There are concerns, such as how awful Wilson was once acquired from the Tigers, Morrow staying healthy, Edwards bouncing back from his rough postseason and consistency with several here. 

The upside here, though, is a totally dominant bullpen. The Cubs ranked sixth in the majors in bullpen ERA last season and this group could be better. Cishek and Morrow are coming off excellent seasons. Wilson can't possibly be as bad as he was and with the Tigers, he was great (2.68 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 55 K, 40.1 IP). Edwards will be in his second full big-league season. And on and on. 

The Cubs' offseason is still incomplete without another starter, in my view. Otherwise they are good to go. 

Meanwhile, the relief pitching market continues to be the only real spot in free agency that is moving. Hopefully that changes soon. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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