Smyling About the Drew Smyly Signing for the Cubs and Other Bullets

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Smyling About the Drew Smyly Signing for the Cubs and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

It is December 13, the third day of the Winter Meetings. The biggest contract signed so far this offseason is Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38 million deal with the Cubs. That is *crazy.*

The moves are coming, and they’ll probably come fast and furious. Even as the market was log-jammed for so long and is taking a while to sort out, the artificial deadline of Christmas still looms for a lot of players who simply want to have their contract situation taken care of before they settle in with their families. That’s not a necessity for all players, but it’s important to many.

Anyway, other things to discuss …

  • As the pictures suggested, Kyle Schwarber is indeed a man on a mission, estimating to Mark Gonzales that he might be down 25 pounds from last year. I guess he can be the leadoff hitter now. (That is a content-related joke, by the way, referring to yesterday’s discussion of Schwarber going back to that spot. Don’t scream at me.)
  • Like us, Eno Sarris loves the Drew Smyly signing for the Cubs, and reminds us about how people have really dug his stuff for a long time. Because he reached the Major Leagues just two years after he was drafted, Smyly is still only 28, and doesn’t turn 29 until next June.
  • Maybe he contributes in 2018 out of the bullpen, maybe not. But the point is, the Cubs can offer him the opportunity to take his rehab slow, make sure he’s truly back for 2019, when he could be a breakout candidate in the rotation. Although pitchers frequently return from Tommy John surgery within 12 to 15 months, it sure seems like they are not truly back to being themselves on both the velocity AND command front until something closer to 18+ months. For Smyly, Spring Training 2019 would be a little over 20 months out from surgery. And if he’s a quality starter for the Cubs on the cheap, in a season when they might be spending big elsewhere on the roster? Nice.
  • Don’t worry too much about how the rotation actually fills out in that 2019 season, by the way. You can’t *count* on Smyly being a part of it, and you can’t totally sacrifice your best move in the rotation in 2018 on that chance. Factor it into your aggressiveness this offseason to bring in a long-term free agent? Sure. But it’s a small factor. The intriguing thing is that the way it cuts is a sliiiiightly increased preference for acquiring a starter on a shorter-term deal (via trade, presumably, since the better free agent starters aren’t taking short-term deals).
(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
  • In 2016, Smyly’s last time on the mound before injuries derailed the early part of his 2017 season (ultimately leading to midseason Tommy John surgery), his numbers were an interestingly mixed bag. He had a 4.88 ERA, which was 19% worse than league average at the time. He was an extreme fly ball guy (49.3%, second highest in baseball), which contributed to his whopping 1.64 HR/9, which was 4th highest in baseball. He had a good strikeout rate, though (22.6%), and a very good walk rate (6.6%). His 21.3% soft contact rate and 29.6% hard contact rate were both very good, and his .291 BABIP (high for an extreme fly ball guy with those contact quality metrics) and 67.7% strand rate suggest there was a lot of bad luck baked into the ERA. Were Smyly a more typical free agent right now coming off of that season, he’d be very high on my list of buy low targets.
  • Random note: Cubs have signed three pitchers so far this offseason, and all three have had major arm surgery at some point (Smyly – TJS, Chatwood – TJSx2, Morrow – shoulder).
  • Ron Coomer is sticking around on the radio side:

  • A pretty interesting look at how the Reds – a team that presumably never had a real shot at Ohtani – tried to court the Japanese star:

  • Amazon’s 12 days of deals thing today? PET STUFF! Also, the very enjoyable Echo Dot is just $29.99. When I can stomach the news, sometimes I just ask Alexa to tell me the news while I do dishes or make dinner or whatever. It’s handy, albeit frequently depressing.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.