Just hours after landing former NL MVP Cody Bellinger on a team-friendly contract, the Chicago Cubs have struck again on the MLB free-agent market.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan reported early Wednesday morning that Chicago has signed veteran starting pitcher Jameson Taillon to a four-year, $68 million contract.
It’s not that big of a surprise given that Chicago was in the market for a veteran free-agent arm to team up with the likes of Marcus Stroman, Kyle Kendricks and Adrian Sampson in the rotation. But it does leave open a ton of possibilities for the Cubs to continue improving their roster after an 88-loss season (more on that below).
Originally a member of the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates, Taillon has spent the past two seasons with the New York Yankees — pitching to a combined 22-11 record with a 4.08 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He matched his career-highs in wins with 14 in 2022. A total of $17 million per season for a No. 3 or No. 4 starter is not terrible in this market, especially considering the Cubs’ mid-to-large market status.
Related: Updated MLB free-agent tracker
Chicago Cubs now have ample options after signing Jameson Taillon
We can now pretty much lock down four rotation spots for the Cubs with Stroman, Kendricks, Sampson and Taillon. Given the bevy of young arms the Cubs boast, it would not be a surprise if they moved one of them for a proven hitter to improve their lineup. The 27-year-old Keegan Thompson also figures into the equation after posting 10 wins and a solid 3.76 ERA in 29 games (17 starts) last season.
Former fifth-round pick Justin Steele could be an option here after he improved leaps and bounds as a sophomore in 2022 (3.18 ERA, 126 strikeouts in 119 innings). In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Thompson or Steele is moved here soon.
As for what the Cubs are looking for in adding to their lineup, they’ve been linked to top-end shortstops on the MLB free agent market with Dansby Swanson looking more likely after Trea Turner landed with the Washington Nationals. Carlos Correa (Houston Astros) and Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox) are also prime options.
For the Chicago Cubs, signing one of those would enable them to move Nico Hoerner to second base after the 25-year-old put up a solid 2022 campaign. Either way we spin it, signing Taillon creates more flexibility for front office head Jed Hoyer.