The Chicago Cubs are in need of at least one starting pitcher this offseason but unless they are able to land a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher this offseason, it would be in the Cubs' best interest to acquire multiple starting pitchers this offseason. The Cubs have been heavily linked to Japanese free agent starting pitcher Kodai Senga but recent rumors have connected the team to pitchers in the tier below Senga with the likes of Jameson Taillon and Taijuan Walker getting mentioned in the team's rumor mill in recent weeks.
The market for Taillon appears to be developing quickly and with that, the cost of signing the New York Yankees free agent starting pitcher is beginning to leak.
In a tick over 177 innings pitched with the Yankees last season in his age-30 season, Taillon posted a 3.91 ERA (3.94 FIP). For comparison purposes, Jon Gray, in his age-29 season, posted a 4.59 ERA (4.22 FIP) in 149 innings pitched with the Colorado Rockies before signing with the Rangers last offseason. Given that Taillon has experienced slightly more success than Gray has had at the Major League level, it stands to reason that he would seek an AAV that would be higher. That sentiment holds especially true when Mike Clevinger just received $12MM from the Chicago White Sox despite completely falling off the map in his return from Tommy John Surgery with the San Diego Padres last season.
Jameson Taillon's expected contract is not a clear fit for the Chicago Cubs.
The concern, however, is at a length of four years, the Cubs, or any team that signs Taillon, would be paying the pitcher into his age-35 season. There lies the problem as there are some questions in regard to how Taillon's pitch mix will regress as he nears closer to the end of his career. For instance, in 2023, FanGraphs steamer projections have Taillon posting a 4.33 ERA in 170 innings pitched.
Cubs' president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer typically avoids long-term deals for starting pitchers and if forced to offer a four-year deal to a free agent this offseason, it would be in the Cubs' best interest to extend that offer to Senga with a higher AAV. Senga, like Gray, would be entering his age-30 season when he makes his Major League debut next season, and his pitch mix projects more favorably than that of Taillon's.