Team president Jed Hoyer’s stated goal of “absolutely” wanting to compete in 2023 means the Cubs have to add starting pitching this winter.
They’ve made their first move on that front, striking a four-year, $68 million deal with former Yankees starter and free agent Jameson Taillon, per multiple reports — first from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan.
The Cubs are in agreement on a contract with free agent pitcher Jameson Taillon on a 4 year, $68 million deal sources tell @JeffPassan and me.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) December 7, 2022
It continued a busy Tuesday at the Winter Meetings for the Cubs, who reached a deal with former MVP Cody Bellinger earlier in the day.
It marks a return to the NL Central for Taillon, the former Pirate who was one of the top arms remaining on a free agent starting pitching market that has picked up steam at the Winter Meetings this week.
Taillon, who’s had a career full of adversity turns, has been a durable, mid-rotation starter for the Yankees in recent seasons. The 31-year-old has compiled a 4.08 ERA in 61 starts since 2021 — including a 3.91 ERA in 2022 (32 starts).
Taillon, who’s demonstrated excellent control in his career, finished seventh in MLB in walks per nine innings last season.
The Cubs’ rotation was decimated by injuries in the first half of 2022, sinking any chances they had to compete.
Better health and better results came after the All-Star break — when in fact their 2.89 ERA ranked third in MLB — but adding “quality innings” is among their top needs this winter.
“You can never have enough pitching,” general manager Carter Hawkins said Tuesday at the meetings. “We will absolutely look to add as many as we can. I think we do have great internal options already or guys that we want to continue to give innings to.
“But there’s other guys out there that we would be interested in bringing on board and continue to supplement that staff. We’re definitely engaged in that market.”
Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick by the Pirates in 2010, debuted with Pittsburgh in 2016 and spent four seasons there.
He made 25 starts in 2017 despite a five-week absence following surgery for testicular cancer, and year later came his most successful season (3.20 ERA, 32 starts).
His 2019 was cut short after seven starts due to an elbow injury. It led to Tommy John surgery, which sidelined him for the entire COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Taillon joins a Cubs rotation picture that includes Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, Adrian Sampson, Keegan Thompson and Hayden Wesneski.
Hendricks is a bit of a question mark after missing the second half last season due to a shoulder issue and Thompson may fit in more as a multi-inning relief weapon. Vesnesky will get a look in spring training.
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