Drew Smyly declines mutual option with Cubs; reunion still possible

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs
San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Despite interest from both Drew Smyly and the Cubs on a reunion, the veteran left-hander declined his end of a $10 million mutual option for 2023 - which, barring an extension prior to Thursday, means the 33-year-old hurler will be a free agent once more.

To be clear, though, that doesn't mean Smyly's time in Chicago has come to an end. There's been reported talks between Chicago and the southpaw in recent weeks and months - and the two could hook up on a new multi-year deal to keep him in pinstripes moving forward.

Cubs, Drew Smyly maintain mutual interest in a reunion

After all, the Cubs don't have a whole lot of proven commodities when it comes to the starting rotation. Marcus Stroman will return after finishing his first year in Chicago on a high note and left-hander Justin Steele will look to build on his breakout showing in 2022. From there, though, there aren't many guys you can comfortably rely on if you want to win a division next year.

Already, Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins have been in touch with the agent for Japanese right-hander Kodai Senga - who is looking to make the jump to Major League Baseball after a dominant career overseas. Early rumors have also mentioned veteran right-hander Corey Kluber as a prospective target in free agency, as well.

Bringing back Smyly would give manager David Ross insurance along with the likes of Adrian Sampson, Javier Assad, Hayden Wesneski and others. Depth is key, as we saw in 2022, and having that depth will undoubtedly be a focus for the front office - even as they look to add major offensive upgrades and potentially a star shortstop to pair with Nico Hoerner up the middle.

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In 106 1/3 innings, Smyly worked to a 3.47 ERA and 1.194 - having him in the mix next year (and into 2024) would hardly be the worst thing in the world. Here's to hoping the two sides can hammer something out and keep the lefty in Chicago as a veteran presence on the staff.