Rumored to be close to a deal with veteran starting pitcher Drew Smyly on Sunday, the Chicago Cubs and Smyly agreed to terms on Thursday.
Smyly was very effective with the Cubs last season as the veteran posted a 3.47 ERA in 22 starts for the team. Smyly declined his portion of the $10MM mutual option for the 2023 season at the beginning of the offseason but there was always a belief that the team would come to a new agreement with the 33-year-old starting pitcher.
Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer was on 670 The Score earlier this morning and indicated that the team was close to adding a catcher and a starting pitcher to the backend of the rotation. In the hours since the Cubs have added veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart on a two-year deal with a player option for 2024 and have now added Smyly back to the mix.
It remains to be seen the exact role that Smyly will have with the Cubs in 2023. Given the uncertainty at the backend of the starting rotation with Kyle Hendricks' health remaining uncertain and the possibility of Hayden Wesneski either starting the season with the Iowa Cubs or in the bullpen at the Major League level, the chances are somewhat strong that Smyly may start the season in the rotation. Ultimately, though, it would seem that Smyly will slide into the swing role between the starting rotation and bullpen.
Much has been made in recent weeks regarding the amount of starting-pitcher-capable arms the Cubs have been compiling. Speculation has suggested that the depth may lead to a trade but it is important to remember that the Cubs' 2022 season derailed after failing to have pitching depth once Smyly, Hendricks, Wade Miley, and Marcus Stroman all went down around the same time with various degrees of illness and/or injury. With the depth that the Cubs have now compiled on their pitching staff, they can now withstand a setback or two.