Chicago Cubs: Tyler Chatwood signed to a three-year deal

DENVER, CO - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood
DENVER, CO - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood /

Former Colorado Rockies hurler Tyler Chatwood inked a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, giving the team its first major acquisition of the offseason.

The Chicago Cubs made one of their first big moves this offseason by signing veteran starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal. Chatwood, 27, spent his last six seasons with the Rockies organization. While his numbers last year do not look great, he has a lot of upside and performed significantly better away from Coors Field.

Jon Morosi reports that Chatwood will make  $40 million over the next three years, which is roughly $13 million a year. The righty will be expected to be a back of the rotation guy behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana. It would probably be safe to assume he would start in the four spot, unless they end up signing a guy like Alex Cobb.

Looking beyond the raw numbers

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Pulling up his stats may make one think, “Ew this guy is a bum.” There are a few things to consider. Overall last year he went 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.442 WHIP and 4.7 BB/9 in 147 2/3 innings. Yeah, looks ugly, but there’s more than meets the eye.

Chatwood struggles greatly came at home at Coors Field, the park that pitchers dread. Per Fangraphs, his road splits included a 3.49 ERA, .197 average against, .299 on-base against, .396 slugging against and a 1.23 WHIP in 77.1 innings.

He struggled to hit spots on the road, too. Opposing hitters drew walks at a 12.5 percent rate – but was definitely better than at home. At Coors Field, he posted a 6.01 ERA with a .299 average against and 1.680 WHIP.

The potential is there 

Chatwood is 27 and is in the typical baseball “prime year” age range. What makes his so intriguing is how much movement he puts on his pitches with solid velocity. He is not going to strike out 200-plus batters in a season, as he is primarily a groundball pitcher.

It is important to note that he missed 2015 due to Tommy John surgery so he had been working on bringing his game back the past two seasons. His fastball has gotten his zip back and Statcast named him one of the most improved pitchers in 2017. His average fastball speed went from 92.7 MPH to 94.8 MPH last year according to Statcast’s data.

Overall, his repertoire of pitches includes a four-seamer, sinker, changeup, curveball and slider. Last year 58.1 percent of his batted balls were on the ground, and 54.7 percent of all batted balls in his career have been on the ground according to Fangraphs. Again, his pitches have a lot of movement on them which allows a lot of grounders and weak contact.

Signing is worth it

Overall it is a good sign by the Cubs. They get a guy that a number of people like despite the rough numbers last year and he does not have to be relied on to high in the rotation. Chatwood has showed effectiveness and getting away from Coors Field can really help.

Remember. There’s nothing wrong with being a ground ball pitcher. Especially hone you have one of the best defensive infields in the game behind you. He gets a chance to work with Jim Hickey, who can hopefully help improve his command, which is honestly the biggest concern. If he locates his heater effectively, he’ll take a big step forward. Add in a stellar spin-rate on his breaking stuff, and good things could happen.

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Does this mean Alex Cobb or Shohei Ohtani are out of the picture? Not necessarily, but there is no way Theo Epstein signs both of them, in addition to Chatwood.