Chicago Cubs: 3 cost-effective free agent starters still left on the board

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James Paxton / Chicago Cubs
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This week, we watched several more free agent starting pitchers come off the board, including Steven Matz, who signed with the rival St. Louis Cardinals, and, most recently, Michael Wacha, who reportedly inked a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox.

So, here are, yet again, digging deeper into the ranks of potential fits, moving on from even that ‘B-list’ group to guys who are either in the twilight of their careers, coming off injuries or even a combination of the two when looking for potential free agent targets for the Chicago Cubs.

That’s not to say Jed Hoyer won’t pull off something for someone like Marcus Stroman. That’s still a possibility. But even if that happens, it’ll be guys like the ones we’re going to roll through now who wind up rounding out the rotation. Chicago is not going to go out and add a combination like Stroman and Robbie Ray this winter – at least I don’t expect them to.

Chicago Cubs: 3 cost-effective free agent pitchers to consider – #3: James Paxton

Left-hander James Paxton returned to the Seattle Mariners last year, only to undergo Tommy John surgery in April and wind up missing the entire 2021 season. He hasn’t handled a starter’s workload over the course of a full year since 2019 – but there’s little questioning what he’s done when healthy.

In his career, the 33-year-old Paxton has made 137 starts, working to a 3.59 ERA and 3.31 FIP. He’s always showcased an ability to miss bats (he carries an 11.1 K/9 mark since the start of 2017) and is a prime bounceback candidate who’s going to quietly garner interest this winter.

If the Cubs are content sitting out at the top tiers of the market, someone like Paxton makes sense for the same reasons as a Carlos Rodon. Is there risk? Absolutely. But is there potential for significant value, as well? You’d better believe it.