With a bit of trickery, the Chicago Cubs swooped in and picked up left-hander Wade Miley this week on the waiver wire. After not expressing interest as the Reds tried to work out a trade for the veteran, Jed Hoyer pulled the trigger on the claim – and Chicago shortly thereafter picked up his $10 million option for next season.
That marks the first move of what’s likely to be a busy offseason for Hoyer and his revamped front office as they look to put their fingerprints on a Cubs roster that underwent a dramatic in-season transformation this summer. With money to spend and needs aplenty, this could be the busiest offseason we’ve seen at Clark and Addison in years.
The team’s most pressing need, of course, is shoring up a starting rotation that was miserable in 2021 by almost every measure. Kyle Hendricks is probably the only returning arm you can safely pencil into the mix – although others we saw take the bump this year will certainly get a look in spring training, as well.
Miley brings a quality veteran presence – and a left-handed one at that – something Chicago hasn’t had in recent years. But that doesn’t mean Hoyer will stop there. He could easily target another southpaw in former Mets and Blue Jays starter Steven Matz.
Now, we’ve talked about one of Matz’ teammates in Toronto, Robbie Ray, as a guy who might be a perfect fit for the Cubs. However, there’s one key distinction between the two that’s worth noting: the Blue Jays extended a qualifying offer to Ray, meaning he’s tied to draft pick compensation. Matz, meanwhile, is not.
The decision to not tender an $18.4 million qualifying offer to Matz isn’t all that surprising, really. He’s shown flashes in his career, especially early on with New York, but at this point he’s more of a Miley-type arm: a steady middle-of-the-rotation presence who’s going to keep you in ballgames and make about 30 starts a year.
This year with Toronto, the former second-round pick worked to a 3.79 FIP in 29 starts, serving as a key cog in the Jays’ rotation. They’ll no doubt look at bringing him back – but they certainly won’t be alone in their interest, either.
Chicago Cubs: Steven Matz could be yet another steady addition to the staff
We know Chicago wants to look for some more explosive arms to add to the mix. Matz is a sinker-baller whose sinker sits just a tick below 95 MPH on average. He mixes in a change-up and cutter, also sprinkling in a slider, as well. With how Wrigley can play, especially in the summer, having a guy who focuses on keeping the ball down might not be the worst thing in the world.
Keith Law of The Athletic (subscription required) could see Matz netting $9-10 million annually (another similarity to Miley) – as his 28th-best free agent on the market this winter. That sum obviously wouldn’t break the bank for Chicago and, given the team’s dire need for arms, someone like this could offer an immediate upgrade to what we saw this season.
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And, like I said, the Cubs aren’t going to pursue guys tied to draft pick compensation unless they’re all-in on them. That’s why Matz is a name I’m going to keep circled as we start heading into this offseason.