It’s a swing-and-a-miss for the Chicago Cubs when it comes to left-hander Steven Matz. The former Mets and Blue Jays hurler agreed to terms on a four-year, $44 million deal late Tuesday night, not only spurning the North Siders, but landing with the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
Matz, 30, wildly outperformed initial expectations in his first trip into free agency, but that falls in line with what we’ve seen across the board when it comes to pitchers this winter. There’s a high demand – especially when it comes to starters – and now the lefty will join a Cardinals club that will look to help Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina ride off into the sunset with a title next year.
Last season with Toronto, Matz turned in the best year of his career, finishing with a 2.8 fWAR and 3.94 xFIP in 29 starts. The Jays were one of the teams interested in his services this winter, but he’ll now return to the Senior Circuit instead.
Of course, prior to 2021, Matz had spent his entire career with the Mets – and on Wednesday morning, New York owner Steve Cohen put Matz’ agent on blast on Twitter in a move that seems likely to blow up in his face in a rather dramatic fashion.
Freshly anointed Mets GM Billy Eppler was seemingly operating under the impression he’d have one last chance to put in a final offer and when that didn’t happen, well, you saw the reaction from Cohen. So, yes, as a fan of a Cubs team desperate for arms, I’m disappointed. But at least we don’t have Tom Ricketts pounding away at his keyboard, causing chaos for the front office.
With Steven Matz off the board, where do the Chicago Cubs go from here?
Matz was a particularly intriguing option for the Cubs because he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from Toronto at season’s end, meaning he wasn’t tied to any sort of draft pick compensation. Now, Chicago will continue its search for starting pitching, so far only having added 35-year-old Wade Miley to the mix.
A lot of the guys who looked like potential fits for the Cubs: Matz, Alex Wood (who’s close to returning to the Giants), Anthony DeSclafani, Andrew Heaney, Eduardo Rodriguez and Noah Syndergaard are already off the board. Given the bidding wars we’ve seen for pitching, it stands to reason it’ll only get worse with the guys left on the board.
Some of the bigger names left on the market include Kevin Gausman, AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, Jon Gray, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Marcus Stroman, although seeing several of those fit with this Chicago Cubs team is difficult, to put it mildly.