Normally, the physical associated with signing a new player is a perfunctory thing. At most, it can impact the terms of a deal at the margins, but – outside of Baltimore – you almost never see it sink a deal.
However, when the Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with Brett Anderson, and the lefty (by way of his own tweet announcement) headed to Chicago for his physical, I’ll admit I was waiting a bit more tensely for a report like this:
Brett Anderson passed his physical with the Cubs.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 25, 2017
Anderson, 28, has dealt with a litany of injuries in his still-relatively-young career – including 2016 back surgery that cost him most of the season – so passing the physical was something of an actual checkpoint on this one.
Presumably, then, the deal will be announced officially soon. The Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 39, so no other roster move should be required at that time.
As we discussed earlier this week, Anderson is an excellent upside play on his reported $3.5 million deal (with incentives that could take it up to $10 million). While he may not offer the Cubs starting “depth” in the traditional sense, if he’s even slightly healthy this season, he could afford the Cubs sufficient opportunity to mix and match their starters’ rest days to create something remotely resembling a six-man rotation. And, if he happens to be unusually healthy and another Cubs starter goes down to injury, then he would be some of the best insurance the Cubs could have possibly bought themselves.
As it stands, we’ll see how things shake out in Spring Training. It’s never a guarantee that all of the players you’re expecting in the rotation will actually be healthy in April, so, for now, we’ll simply say that the big league Cubs have six expected starting pitchers right now: Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, Mike Montgomery, and Anderson.