The Toronto Blue Jays made their first trade of the offseason on Monday, grabbing left-hander Brendon Little from the Chicago Cubs.
Little is a 27-year-old left-handed pitcher who spent his entire 2023 season at Triple-A with the Iowa Cubs. In 73.1 innings with the Cubs' affiliate he posted a 4.05 ERA and managed 73 strikeouts, while walking 38. The lefty has only appeared in one MLB game in his career, allowing three runs in 0.2 innings against the Blue Jays on August 30, 2022.
The former 27th overall of the 2017 draft is an extreme groundball pitcher.
His groundball rate lived above 60% in each of his last two seasons at Triple-A, and sat at 64.0% last year. Little's trademark pitch is a sinker that he threw 62.4% of the time in 2023, with an average velocity of 94.4 mph.
His breaking ball is a looping slider that generated an impressive 45.3% whiff rate. It's an offering he showcased seven times in his only MLB outing, with the best example being this called strike against Santiago Espinal.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet the team liked his 'stuff from the left side, work ethic, and experience in multi-inning roles'. If this spring training appearance on March 25 is anything to go by, he's also not someone who gives up on a play.
Realistically, Little is simply a depth arm for the Blue Jays at this point. He's someone who could crop up midway through 2024 if injuries strike, or a pitcher who might be deemed surplus to requirements some time during the offseason when other moves are made.
There's a reason the 27-year-old was available for cash considerations in the first place. That said, grabbing a former first-rounder who seems to know how to keep the ball on the ground seems like a solid depth-bolstering move.