I am not doing the thing where you IMMEDIATELY leap to “what’s next?!?!” right after a really solid move, as I’m quite happy with the Jameson Taillon signing. I’ll have lots more to say about it.
But the thing is, the Taillon signing kinda necessarily begs questions about what is next, because we know the Cubs need multiple starting pitchers, and it’s not clear what tier they can/will play in after Taillon’s four-year, $68 million deal. Is he the “main” starting signing? Is he one of two similar signings? Or do the Cubs still want to sign an even bigger fish, and having Taillon in the back pocket was just the start?
Specifically, I was wondering last night whether signing Taillon would have an impact on – or said anything about – the Cubs’ pursuit of Kodai Senga, where they were about one of six teams still getting attention.
Well, very happy to see Patrick Mooney reporting, by name, that the Cubs are still in on Senga, with some context that seems to confirm it.
In his writeup on the Taillon signing, here’s Mooney:
The Cubs were involved in the negotiations that resulted in Taijuan Walker agreeing to a four-year, $72 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The price of pitching appears to be skyrocketing and the Cubs did not have a single pitcher who exceeded 25 starts or 140 innings this year. Drew Smyly is a free agent. Marcus Stroman can opt out of his contract after next season. Kyle Hendricks got shut down for the second half of this past season. Justin Steele didn’t pitch in September. With all that in mind, the Cubs aren’t done trying to add to their rotation, staying in contact with the representatives for Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga.
So, it’s not just that Mooney is saying the Cubs are still in on Senga. That part is probably good enough on it’s own. But there’s also the context that the Cubs WERE in on Taijuan Walker *while* they were also locking down Taillon. In other words, it sounds like the Cubs may have been willing to sign both Taillon and Walker if the deals broke their way. That, in turn, tells me that the Cubs do want multiple pitchers from this tier if they can pull it off, and although Senga is assuredly going to get more money than Taillon or Walker at this point, I don’t think it’s SO MUCH more that you couldn’t say Walker interest is a data point for fund-allocation planning.
The Cubs still want Senga after signing Taillon. That seems pretty clear. And I like it.
Although signing an impact arm like Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander or Carlos Rodon would’ve been ideal, it doesn’t seem like the first two were ever going to seriously consider the Cubs, and the Cubs just don’t seem to be in on Rodon for whatever reason. In that world, if the Cubs were able to land both Taillon and Senga, I’d have a pretty hard time complaining about the offseason’s rotation moves. Those are both good and productive gets, each with upside to be even better than mid-rotation.
That said, a lot of teams really want Senga, and there are still far more teams that haven’t landed a starting pitcher than have. I am counting no chickens – I’m just glad to hear the Cubs are still involved.
If Kodai Senga doesn’t break their way, I wonder if the Cubs are also still in on Chris Bassitt, who is the other best option in this tier (albeit one who is older and attached to draft pick compensation). And if neither break their way, I would expect them then to turn to Corey Kluber, to whom they’ve been attached, or a reclamation option like Sean Manaea. There’s also old friend Drew Smyly, though I tend to think his ability to swing in and out of the bullpen would make him attractive to the Cubs regardless of what else they do.