The Chicago Cubs completed perhaps the first significant acquisition of the offseason when they signed free agent starter Tyler Chatwood on Thursday.
According to multiple sources, the Cubs and Chatwood agreed to a three-year, $38 million deal, keeping Chatwood under club control through 2020. Chatwood posted an ERA of 4.69 in 2017, but he was pitching for the Colorado Rockies at the time, so the Coors Field conditions must be taken into account when evaluating his performance. Theo Epstein has often focused on finding pitchers who will benefit from a change of scenery, and Chatwood could be a great fit for that role.
However, the Cubs will need more than just Tyler Chatwood. With both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey leaving for free agency, the team has two spots to fill in the rotation. Chatwood will likely be put in the No. 5 spot in the rotation, though Epstein seems to think he could be even better than a No. 5 starter in the future.
Presumably, the Cubs will need to find a starter of a higher caliber than Chatwood to fill the final spot in the rotation. They missed out on Shohei Ohtani despite being one of the final seven teams in the running for the Japanese phenom. But there are other options out there for the Cubs as the winter meetings begin this week in Orlando.
Alex Cobb is one of the names that has been associated with the Cubs often throughout this offseason. Cobb has been with the Tampa Bay Rays for his entire major league career. He has worked with new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey for the entirety of that career, as Hickey was the pitching coach for the Rays from 2006 to 2017.
Cobb posted an ERA of 3.66 in 2017, and has a career ERA of 3.50. His best major league season came in 2013, when he posted an impressive 2.76 ERA in 22 games with a record of 11-3.
However, judging by Chatwood’s deal, Cobb would not be an inexpensive signing. Chatwood’s deal was considered by many to have been surprisingly expensive. Cobb is valued higher than Chatwood and would probably command a significantly larger deal.
But the Cubs should spend to get Alex Cobb. Cobb would be the perfect piece to fill out the rotation, and probably the best fit on the market for the Cubs. There have been trade rumors thrown around regarding the Cubs and Chris Archer, but the Cubs would almost certainly need to trade from their major league roster to get Archer, and either Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ might not be enough to get Archer. The Cubs might need to trade either Javier Baez or Addison Russell to get Archer, thus downgrading the elite middle infield.
Cobb may be relatively expensive, but he is worth the money for the Cubs, who need rotation help and would be well-advised to acquire it through free agency due to their depleted farm system. Cobb will be less expensive than Arrieta and Yu Darvish, the two most prominent arms on the free agent market this offseason.
The Cubs should work to get a deal with Cobb done during the winter meetings to complete the heavy lifting of the offseason so they can focus the rest of their offseason on revamping the bullpen.
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