Cubs: Michael Pineda shouldn’t be a priority, despite what Jim Bowden thinks

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

There are a lot of different directions the Chicago Cubs could go once the lockout ends. After sneaking in the Marcus Stroman signing right ahead of the lockout on Dec. 1, we’d all convinced ourselves Jed Hoyer was coming out swinging. But here we are, still waiting for a new CBA, with far less optimism than we had two months ago.

Even so, the latest piece from Jim Bowden at The Athletic (subscription required) made me stop what I was doing and re-read it twice. Because, according to Bowden, the first thing Chicago should do once free agency resumes? Sign Michael Pineda to a one-year, $10 million deal.

I’m sorry, what? As I said, Hoyer added Stroman to the mix, and also brought in veteran left-hander Wade Miley. You pair those two with Kyle Hendricks, who you hope rebounds in 2022, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty solid top of the rotation. Then it’s a mix of younger arms looking to establish themselves to round out the staff – and given where this roster is at, I’m totally fine with taking that approach.

Adbert Alzolay, Alec Mills and Justin Steele look like the front-runners, with guys like Keegan Thompson also likely to get a look. Out of that, you’d hope you can get enough starts to keep things moving forward throughout the year. There are plenty of up-and-comers among the ranks behind them, too, making a deal for Pineda a real head-scratcher for me personally.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t or won’t add another starter on a bargain deal – but that’s hardly the team’s most glaring need at this point. Given how rapidly things will move once the lockout ends, clubs are going to need to have their ducks in a row to capitalize and address their roster’s respective holes in quick order.

Pineda, while always good at throwing strikes, ranked near the bottom of the Statcast leaderboard in almost every conceivable category last season – and despite being a solid piece for Minnesota the last three years, comes with his fair share of red flags.

Chicago Cubs: Michael Pineda is waving every red flag imaginable

He ranked in the bottom 30% of the league in barrel rate, bottom four percent in hard hit rate and bottom five in average exit velocity. You can take a look at the rest of those numbers, but they all tell the same story. He’s a soft-tosser who relies on throwing strikes and limiting walks. The Cubs don’t need any more pitchers who fit that profile in this rotation.

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You want to make a statement coming out of the lockout? Go shore up the infield depth. Get a proven commodity for the late innings. The Cubs are far from a perfect collection of pieces, but adding Michael Pineda to the rotation is certainly not a pressing priority – or, at least, it better not be.