Not to get too over-the-top about a rehab signing, but I’m a huge fan of the deal the Cubs just announced:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 13, 2017
Smyly, 28, was non-tendered by the Mariners this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery this past June. We discussed him before the non-tender deadline as someone who made sense for the Cubs to target:
For the long-time prospectors, Drew Smyly’s name probably sticks out, and, after a 30-start, 175.1 IP, 2.0-WAR season in 2016, I could understand the interest. But Smyly underwent Tommy John surgery this past season and didn’t throw a single inning, so he’s a fairly big unknown at this point. Then again, he did work with current Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey during his time with the Rays, so maybe there’s some intimate knowledge/familiarity there other teams wouldn’t necessarily have.
So if the Cubs were intrigued by the pedigree, youth, and upside, they could absolutely target someone like Smyly and let him rehab and return slowly. It’s something they’ve done many times before.
We’ll have more on Smyly and his rehab process soon. Don’t expect to see him pitching for the Cubs until after the All-Star break in 2018 at the very earliest, and probably quite a bit later than that. The biggest gain here is in 2019, if Smyly returns healthy and effective, but it’s nice to dream on having a bullpen weapon come out of nowhere in the second half of 2018.
For now, the things to know are that the Cubs will have to keep him on the 40-man roster throughout the rehab process, but the cost (in dollars) is very reasonable:
Smyly deal is $3 million guaranteed in year one, $7 million in year two. Up to $6 million more in incentives in 2019 if he's a starter, $1 million if he's a reliever. Potential for $16 million total.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) December 13, 2017
And if he comes back strong, he could contribute out of the bullpen in the second half, or in the rotation if there was a need. Then, if he’s good to go – at age 29 – the Cubs would get a very nice boost to the rotation in 2019 on the cheap.