Edwards returns to the organization with which he made his MLB debut in 2015. The former Rangers draftee was dealt to Chicago as a prospect in the 2013 deadline swap sending Matt Garza to Arlington. Edwards moved to the bullpen by the time he got to the big leagues.
The lanky right-hander opened his MLB career with a few solid seasons on the North Side. While he only made five appearances in 2015, he pitched to a 3.75 ERA over 36 outings the following year. Edwards collected a World Series ring as part of the curse-breaking championship club. He continued pitching well over the next couple seasons, posting a sub-3.00 ERA in consecutive years from 2017-18.
Edwards struggled early in the 2019 campaign. That kicked off a nomadic stretch of his career. Chicago dealt him to the Padres at the deadline. He landed with the Mariners briefly in 2020 and made cameos with the Braves and Blue Jays the next season. A minor league deal with the Nationals during the lockout set the stage for Edwards’ best work in a few years.
He made the MLB roster by the middle of May. He pitched well enough to hold that spot all season, eventually logging 62 innings with a 2.76 ERA. The Nats tendered him a $2.25MM contract for his last year of arbitration. He was reasonably effective when healthy but limited to 32 appearances. Edwards had worked to a 3.67 ERA across 31 2/3 frames despite a subpar 16.9% strikeout rate and an alarming 12% walk percentage. Those peripherals likely would’ve muted trade interest at the deadline regardless, but a late June diagnosis of shoulder inflammation took a trade firmly off the table.
Edwards would spend the rest of the season on the injured list. He attempted to rehab in August but was diagnosed with a stress fracture after feeling continued shoulder soreness. He surpassed six years of MLB service and hit free agency at season’s end.
With the injury cutting short his ’23 campaign, he’ll now have to work his way back to an MLB roster. His fastball velocity was down slightly last season. The heater sat at 93.5 MPH on average, a little below his typical 94-95 MPH range. It’s possible he regains an extra tick or two if he’s able to put the shoulder pain behind him.
The Cubs had a league average relief group in 2023. Adbert Alzolay, Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. are locked into season-opening roles, while lefty Drew Smyly seems ticketed for long relief after struggling as a starter last year.
Chicago recently acquired the out-of-options Yency Almonte from the Dodgers, suggesting he’ll secure an Opening Day spot. Pending further acquisitions, that leaves two or three jobs up for grabs among the likes of José Cuas, Daniel Palencia, Keegan Thompson and swing types like Hayden Wesneski and Javier Assad. Edwards joins Colten Brewer as non-roster veterans in camp.