Cubs might have the inside track on free agent pitcher Mike Foltynewicz

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

After sitting on the sidelines for much of the offseason, it looks like a spring thaw is in the air surrounding the offices at Gallagher Way, despite the near-foot of snow that dumped on the Chicagoland area this weekend.

That thaw has come in the form of an increased baseball operations budget for the Cubs that has recently culminated in the signings of Joc Pederson and Trevor Williams. That addresses the gaping hole in left field and adds yet another reclamation project arm into the starting rotation mix.

But it’s become pretty clear Chicago isn’t done adding pitchers. The team had representatives at recent showcases for a pair of former Cubs hurlers in Jeff Samardzija and Jake Arrieta. After watching Carlos Rodon return to the White Sox, another guy the team is said to be very interested in is former Braves All-Star Mike Foltynewicz.

Atlanta designed Foltynewicz, now 29, for assignment last July after his showed a dramatic decrease in velocity. Formerly an upper-90s presence, he lost six-plus MPH on his heater and the Braves weren’t about to trot that out when chasing a division in a 60-game sprint where the margin for error was smaller than ever before.

More from Cubbies Crib

In his showcase this weekend, the right-hander reportedly sat in the 90-92 MPH range. Again, that’s not what we once saw from him, but it could play, as long as he’s managed to re-establish his complimentary pitches. His slider, once a wipeout pitch, abandoned him two years ago, as well – so when he lost the fastball, his repertoire was left in shambles.

So how do the Cubs potentially have an upper hand for Mike Foltynewicz?

The obvious starting point here is the Cubs have done relatively well when it comes to reclamation projects. That’s how they built a bullpen last year and, in that effort, wound up seeing Jeremy Jeffress bounce back and finish the year as an NL Reliever of the Year finalist.

Foltynewicz fits that same mold, albeit as a starter. His velocity issues notwithstanding, Chicago desperately needs pitching depth and it’s not like former All-Stars grow on trees. But why I believe he might be more inclined to join the Cubs over other interested suitors is pretty simply, really.

He’s an Illinois native and grew up a little over an hour outside the city in Minooka, Illinois – a pass-through for travelers and truckers on I-80. Getting to return to a team that’s so close to home could prove tempting for Foltynewicz, who has a pair of children with his wife, Brittany.

Next. Now is not the time for Jed, Cubs to get nostalgic. dark

This is the exact type of guy the Cubs should be targeting. I’d much rather roll the dice with Foltynewicz than go with what we know in an aging Samardzija or Arrieta. The upside is notably higher, whether they stick with him for a full season or flip him at the trade deadline.