Chicago Cubs: 3 pitching targets after the Eduardo Rodriguez signing

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Eduardo Rodriguez / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The first big free agent domino has fallen – and far earlier than anyone initially anticipated – with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez inking a five-year, $77 million deal with the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Of course, for the Chicago Cubs, that’s one fewer starting pitchers available as Jed Hoyer looks to totally revamp his team’s rotation this winter.

If you’re expecting the Cubs to come away with a Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander, you’re likely to be severely disappointed when camp opens in Arizona next spring. I think we will see Hoyer largely play in that second and third tier of free agent arms, simply because of the sheer volume of pitching Chicago needs to add this offseason.

So with Rodriguez off the board, we turn our attention to three alternative options – all of whom were ranked belowThe Athletic the longtime Boston left-hander by  in their start-of-offseason free agent starting pitcher rankings.

Chicago Cubs have long been rumored to have interest in right-hander Jon Gray

Rodriguez widely outperformed his baseball card numbers this year (just look at the difference between his ERA and FIP) – and I suspect Chicago will look past those surface level numbers on most of their pitching acquisitions this offseason, making Jon Gray a prime target.

Gray, who just turned 30 earlier this month, has rebuffed multiple efforts from the Rockies to retain the right-hander, looks highly likely to move on from Colorado for the first time in his career. The former third overall pick made 29 starts this year and surprisingly posted reverse home/road splits (at least in terms of what you’d expect from a pitcher who called Coors Field home).

Despite solid fastball velocity, hitters torched Gray’s heater this year, forcing him to turn to his slider more than ever before – to great success. He limited opponents to a .156 average and .300 slugging percentage on that pitch this season.

We know the Cubs want to add some power arms this winter – and that’s what you get with Gray. The numbers certainly don’t pop off the page, but the stuff is there. Get him in the Pitch Lab and see what happens from there.