The Chicago Cubs dropped a buzzer-beater ahead of the MLB lockout taking hold last week when they signed right-hander Marcus Stroman to a three-year, $71 million deal – adding some badly-needed reinforcements to a starting rotation that already looks much stronger than its 2021 iteration.
But neither Stroman nor early offseason pickup Wade Miley fit the specific profile Jed Hoyer has repeatedly stressed the team is focusing on: a power arm with plus velocity. Given how many starting pitchers came off the board early in free agency, his options are somewhat diminished – but one remains in longtime Royals left-hander Danny Duffy.
A week or so ago, I noted that Duffy made sense as a rotation target who wouldn’t break the bank – and now a report from The Athletic‘s Sahadev Sharma seems to all but confirm Chicago’s interest in the veteran left-hander.
"Adding more strikeouts to the bullpen will also be a priority after the lockout, and they’ll look for high-risk, high-reward types on short deals who could fit that mold. James Paxton and Corey Kluber are already taken, but Danny Duffy is someone they would pursue once the lockout ends."
Now, as Sharma also notes – Duffy isn’t that upper-90s fastball guy. That being said, he’s capable of getting into that 94 MPH range with his heater, which had its highest average velocity this year since back in 2016. He’s always been good at getting hitters to chase and has solid spin rates on his arsenal, too.
Given he missed the back half of the 2021 season with a flexor tendon strain, you can’t imagine Duffy is going to command anything crazy on the open market. Knowing the Cubs prefer short-term, high-AAV deals that pose no long-term risk, the money is definitely there for Hoyer to add Duffy to the mix this winter.
Chicago Cubs: Previewing a starting rotation with Danny Duffy in tow
Right now, you still have to hope Kyle Hendricks’ disastrous 2021 showing was a blip on the radar and nothing more. We’ll see how he looks in the spring, but either way, his name is in pen, not pencil, when charting out next year’s rotation.
Miley and Stroman are locks right there with him – but that still leaves the back end of the starting five very much up in the air. Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele Keegan Thompson could all vie for a spot – but the long and short is that there’s definitely room for Duffy in this group, which would allow the Cubs to, for example, eliminate a weakness like Alzolay’s misfortunes against lefties, by moving him to the bullpen.