|Carl Edwards Jr.|
|Washington Nationals – No. 58|
|Born: September 3, 1991|
Newberry, South Carolina
|September 7, 2015, for the Chicago Cubs|
|MLB statistics |
(through May 10, 2022)
|Earned run average||3.89|
|Career highlights and awards|
Carl Fleming Edwards Jr. (born September 3, 1991) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in MLB for the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Atlanta Braves.
Edwards was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 48th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft out of Mid-Carolina High School in Prosperity, South Carolina. Edwards initially committed to play college baseball for the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, where he would join a high school teammate and friend. However, when that friend died in a car accident, Edwards decided instead to pursue professional baseball. He spent his first professional season with the Arizona League Rangers and Spokane Indians. He finished the year 5–3 with a 1.48 earned run average (ERA) and 85 strikeouts over 67 innings pitched. He started the 2013 season with the Hickory Crawdads, going 8–2 with a 1.83 ERA and 122 strikeouts over 93+1⁄3 innings (18 starts).
On July 22, 2013, Edwards along with Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and a player to be named later (Neil Ramírez) were traded to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza. He was sent to the Daytona Cubs, where he had a 1.96 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 23 innings (six starts). After the season, he was named the MiLB Pitcher of the Year.
Prior to the 2014 season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the 28th best prospect in baseball. He spent the 2014 season with the Tennessee Smokies where he compiled a 1–2 record and 2.44 ERA over ten starts. On November 20, 2014, Edwards was added to the Cubs 40-man roster, in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He began 2015 with Tennessee and was promoted to the Iowa Cubs in May.
On September 7, 2015, Edwards made his Major League debut for the Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. In 36 appearances out of the bullpen between both Tennessee and Iowa prior to his callup, he was 5–3 with a 2.77 ERA and 75 strikeouts over 55+1⁄3 innings.
Edwards began 2016 with Iowa. He was recalled May 11 to Chicago, but returned to Iowa the next day. He was recalled once again on June 20 and spent the rest of the season with Chicago. On September 1, Edwards recorded his first Major League save against the San Francisco Giants. Edwards finished the 2016 season with a 3.75 ERA in 35 innings pitched.
On October 25, Edwards along with teammates Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Heyward became the first African-Americans to play for the Cubs in a World Series game.[a] In Game 3, he struck out the side in relief duty in the top of the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first African-American to pitch for the Cubs in a World Series game. Edwards appeared in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 7, where he recorded the first two outs of the inning and surrendered one run. The Cubs went on to win their first World Series in 108 years.
2017 was Edwards' first full season in the major leagues; he was 5–4 with a 2.98 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 66+1⁄3 relief innings pitched.
Edwards struggled in the division series against the Washington Nationals, pitching 2+1⁄3 innings and allowing six runs. Notably, he allowed a game-tying two-run home run to Bryce Harper in the eighth inning of Game 2. Edwards' performance improved during the league championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, again pitching 2+1⁄3 innings, but this time allowing no runs.
In 2018, Edwards posted a 3–2 record and recorded 67 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA in 52 innings.
Edwards struggled in the beginning of 2019. He pitched in four games between March 30 and April 5, recording only five outs. He allowed three hits (two home runs), five walks, and six runs. He was optioned to the Iowa Cubs on April 6 to work through his mechanics. The Cubs recalled Edwards on May 6.
On July 31, 2019, Edwards was traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Brad Wieck. Edwards struggled greatly in San Diego, posting a 32.40 ERA in 2 games for the team. On November 4, 2019, he cleared waivers and elected free agency.
On December 4, 2019, Edwards signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners. On October 22, 2020, Edwards elected free agency after being outrighted off of the 40-man roster. In 2020, he allowed 1 run over 5 games, striking out 6.
On January 29, 2021, Edwards signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves organization. On March 25, 2021, Edwards opted out of his contract and became a free agent. On April 5, 2021, Edwards re-signed with the Braves on a new minor league contract. On May 7, 2021, Edwards was selected to the active roster. Edwards allowed 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk before being designated for assignment the next day. On May 10, Edwards elected free agency.
On May 14, 2021, Edwards signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays organization and was assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. On May 30, Edwards was selected to the active roster. On June 17, he was placed on the 60-day injured list with a left oblique strain. He was released by the organization on August 29, 2021.
On August 31, 2021, Edwards signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox and was assigned to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights.
On February 25, 2022, Edwards signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals.
Edwards and his fiancée, Anquinette Smith, welcomed their first child in August 2015, and their second in July 2018.
Edwards was known as "C.J." in the minor leagues, a name which Cubs manager Joe Maddon continues to use. Edwards also earned the nickname "The String Bean Slinger" for his skinny physique, which he has adopted for the back of his personalized jersey during the annual Players Weekend.