Though the Chicago Cubs haven’t formally been linked to any huge free agent names via the pitching market, there are several mid-tier hurlers that would significantly benefit the club moving forward. Of course, if you can land a proven ace, you do it without question. Should the Cubs look to go the more budget-friendly route, it isn’t necessarily the worst thing as long as you sign more than one of them.
Picking up Wade Miley was a great start in obtaining proven starters that can eat innings and help a ball club rack up the Ws. However, he is more a piece of the puzzle as opposed to the only missing link. After racking up a 5.9 WAR across a 12-7 record with a 3.37 ERA, a cool $10 million is a nice indicator of what the Cubs can expect when it comes to price tags of free agents.
As stated, Miley is not the only piece the Cubs will need to significantly patch the starting rotation if they are looking to compete in 2022. They will need at least two more starters if they want to have any shot at being remotely competitive next season.
Chicago Cubs: 3 starters to target – #3: Michael Pineda
Let’s get things started with Michael Pineda. Pineda had a solid year in 2021, going 9-8 with a 3.62 ERA. Furthermore, during a three-year stint with the Twins, the big right-hander posted a combined 22-13 record to go along with a 3.80 ERA and a 3.93 FIP over the course of 52 starts. After signing a two-year deal in which Pineda earned an even $20 million, he is now an unrestricted free agent entering his age 32 season.
Signing a pitcher like Pineda can help the Cubs in a few different ways. The most obvious, he fills a hole in the starting rotation with an above average career ERA of 3.98, but he should still remain cost-effective from a buy low standpoint. He’s not going to break the bank and allows Chicago to put some of those dollars toward other arms rather than going all-in on one guy..
In 2019, Pineda served a 60-game suspension after testing positive for a performance enhancing masking agent which leaked over into the 2020 season, during which he only pitched in five games. He also missed a month or so this year for a mild oblique strain.
Should Pineda stay healthy, he can produce as a middle to back of the rotation starter. Literally all he’d have to do to be better than every guy who started for the Cubs last year is do what he’s done his entire career.