Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Michael Wacha could be a buy-low rebound target

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

While we all wish the Chicago Cubs were one marquee starting pitcher away from becoming a legitimate contender next year, that’s definitely not the case. The club is in dire straits when it comes to quality pitching depth at the big league level and you can bet Jed Hoyer and new GM Carter Hawkins will dedicate most of their time and resources this winter toward remedying that.

As we saw this year, not only in Chicago but across the league, even six or seven starters isn’t necessarily enough – and Hoyer is already on the record noting the team needs some impact talent added to the mix of returning arms next spring.

He also, however, made it pretty clear in some not-so-subtle ways the Cubs aren’t going to be playing in the deep end of the free agent pool. Instead, it looks like we’re staring at another offseason of bargain bin shopping, trying on things from the discount rack and hoping for the best.

Which is why former St. Louis and Tampa Bay right-hander Michael Wacha makes all the sense in the world as a potential target this winter.

The 30-year-old is now seven years removed from his All-Star 2015 campaign with the Cardinals, when he won 17 games, made 30 starts and looked poised to be the next in a long line of gritty St. Louis hurlers to give Chicago hitters fits for years and years.

This season with the Rays, he made 23 starts and a half-dozen relief appearances and really struggled – no matter how you slice it. He worked to a 5.05 ERA, 4.47 FIP and 1.307 WHIP across 124 2/3 innings of work and also got rocked in his lone postseason appearance.

Chicago Cubs could take advantage of what figures to be a weak market

All this to say he’s not going to have a great many teams clamoring to sign him this winter. Which, unfortunately, means the Cubs could end up being one of the more intriguing suitors Wacha might have. He’s intricately familiar with Wrigley Field and the NL Central having spent seven years with the Redbirds – and could look to re-establish himself as a piece of Chicago’s rotation merry-go-round in 2022.

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Wacha played the 2021 season on a one-year, $3 million deal and it’s hard seeing him get much more than that this time around. He is young enough to still have just a touch of upside (after all, he is a former first-rounder) – and given the Cubs’ desperate need of starting pitchers, he falls right in line with the type of arms the front office will be looking at this winter.