Cubs Will Reportedly Soon Meet with Drew Smyly’s Camp to Work on a New Deal

At his season-ending press conference, Cubs President Jed Hoyer was pretty clear that the Cubs thought each of Drew Smyly and Wade Miley were excellent for the team this year when healthy enough to pitch, and “in the right setup,” they would love to have both – not just one – back with the team in 2023. You can never, ever have too much pitching, as Hoyer pointed out in the (still quite correct) cliche.

We’ve known for a while that Smyly has been crystal clear in his desire to re-up with the Cubs after this season, even if not by way of the $10 million mutual option (those are just so rare to be perfect for both sides). What hasn’t been clear was if and when the Cubs would actually engage Smyly’s reps in negotiations about a return deal. Smyly’s comments had the feel of, no seriously, let’s just talk and we can work something out. When a quality player presents like that, is so happy in the organization, and is clearly useful for the season(s) ahead, you’ve gotta take him up on the offer, so to speak.

Thankfully, the Sun-Times reports that those talks are going to happen:

Further talks between the Cubs and Smyly’s camp are expected this month, working toward a possible reunion next season, according to sources.

Smyly has a $10 million mutual option for 2023, but it’s more likely the parties will negotiate a new contract.

You could make the argument – and I would make it! – that Smyly returning to the Cubs in 2023 makes sense regardless of anything else the Cubs do with the pitching staff. A two-year deal might be the right fit for both sides, and it’s good to know they will talk this month. It is, of course, TBD whether they would make any signing official this month, though. Here’s what I said before:

I’ve gotta think there’s a two-year deal that could make sense for both sides. It’s possible, though, that the Cubs would prefer to wait to officially re-sign Smyly until after the Rule 5 rostering deadline in late November (and/or the Rule 5 Draft, itself, in early December) to afford them a little more roster flexibility as the offseason plays out. Not that they could necessarily expect Smyly to just wait on them.

On the season, Smyly threw 106.1 innings across 22 starts, posting a 3.47 ERA and 4.23 FIP. The peripherals suggest there was some good luck baked into that ERA, but his performance was probably still a good bit better than league average. When healthy, he had the look of a very good back-of-the-rotation starter, or a guy who could swing in and out of the bullpen if needed. Not a bad guy to have around for future seasons – at 33, Smyly isn’t young, but he’s thrown relatively few innings in his career and the velocity this year seemed to indicate his arm isn’t at an immediate risk for physical decline.

Sure, you’d prefer to be able to view Smyly as a clear six-innings-every-time guy, but there are only so many of those types in the game anymore. So if he is instead a guy who is usually solid for five-ish innings? On a team that figures to have multiple right-handed multi-inning relievers in any case? There could still be a fantastic fit.

Besides, how realistic is it that ANY of the Cubs’ starters next year will make 32 starts? The reality is that there will have to be maneuvering, constantly, throughout the season. Dealing with injuries. Keeping guys fresh. Resting youngsters. Resting veterans. Unexpected extra-innings marathons. Unexpected implosion outings. Smyly is not the kind of pitcher who locks you into any kind of expectation other than: he should be available a lot of the time to give you usable (or better) innings in some kind of role. That’s just a valuable dude to have on your roster.

Jed Hoyer was saying it yesterday in the context of position players, but it applies to pitchers, too: you can build your roster to accommodate the best plans for match-ups and platoons and piggybacks, but how often over the course of a season is every guy actually available for you to do what you want? Five games, Hoyer quipped. So you have to have redundancies. Quality depth. Versatility. Yes, you also want stars and impact players – Cubs need them aplenty – but great teams also have guys like Drew Smyly, just there at the periphery ready to contribute.

Oh, and also? I would be nice to know you’ve got Smyly in your back pocket relatively early in the offseason, which can provide some more confidence heading into pursuits of harder-to-sign impact starting pitchers. You want to get who you want to get, but you’d like to have at least some cover to not be desperate.

I am very happy to hears the sides are going to talk, and I think it’s reasonable to be optimistic that a deal can be reached.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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