Falling one win shy of a World Series championship, the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the offseason with most of its core in tact for the 2018 season and beyond.
The club saw seven players reach free agency, with key pitchers Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow standing out as the most notable names. In the wake of his newfound success as the Dodgers’ primary setup man, Morrow was slated for a hefty pay raise.
The Chicago Cubs pounced with a lucrative, two-year offer and lured him away from Los Angeles. According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, Morrow had originally hoped to remain with the Dodgers, but was told a potential re-signing was contingent on the team clearing salary elsewhere first:
Morrow originally had been hoping to go to the Dodgers, but they told him they’d have to move some money around before committing to a deal that he felt was commensurate with his value
The Dodgers faced the same hurdle of needing to shed salary in their pursuit of re-signing Darvish. That also proved to be too difficult, and the right-hander eventually joined the Cubs as well, reuniting with Morrow.
Los Angeles prioritized getting beneath the luxury tax threshold this winter, and accomplished that goal by conducting a massive salary dump trade with the Atlanta Braves that saw the return of Matt Kemp.
Morrow had already signed with Chicago by the time that deal was consummated. What’s more, it would have been difficult matching Chicago’s offer to begin with, given the organization’s longterm commitment to closer Kenley Jansen.
Last week, Morrow made his Cubs debut against the Dodgers. He yielded two hits in an inning of work, and admitted afterward that he pitched with restraint against his former team.