Shota Imanaga emerging as a fit for the Cubs considering their spending habits

A new report from MLB expert Jon Heyman lists the Chicago Cubs as a potential suitor for Shota Imanaga in free agency this winter.

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Last night, Jon Heyman released a new article about Shota Imanaga and his possible suitors. Of course, we already knew the Chicago Cubs were connected to Imanaga, so it's not a surprise to see them listed here again. Unsurprisingly, Heyman also mentions that Imanaga is more of a fallback option for the teams that miss out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Therefore, the Cubs won't be the only team involved in Imanaga's sweepstakes. The fit, of course, is certainly there.

We dove into the connection on why Imanaga makes sense last month, mainly because the team needs rotation help. More so, Imanaga's price tag being substantially lower than Yamamoto's, as well as the likelihood of Imanaga's deal being several years shorter, it's an approach that's much easier to stomach for Jed Hoyer's "intelligent spending" moto.

Imanaga won't be an ace, but he should have success in MLB as a mid-rotation guy. His numbers in Japan are solid, not quite as dominant as Kodai Senga a year prior, but he is still a great addition to any club looking to add starting pitching depth. He has a lifetime 2.96 ERA across all levels over eight seasons in Japan, and this year, he recorded a 2.77 ERA across the Japan Central and Eastern League over 159 IP with 188 Ks.

Given his five-year/$85MM contract projection, the same given to Seiya Suzuki, he doesn't crush the Cubs payroll this winter. The Cubs have different avenues they can travel down now that they know they aren't getting Shohei Ohtani, and they don't appear poised to land Yamamoto either. Imanaga is one of those roads that make sense financially, especially if the Cubs don't bring in a significant bat, i.e., Cody Bellinger, this winter.

That doesn't mean, however, that just because they get one, they won't go after the other, just that you can envision a much more aggressive approach to at least get someone if they do miss on Bellinger. Yes, the Cubs have been connected to everyone. No, they haven't made a significant splash yet. That time is coming. Jed Hoyer is doing a fantastic job of not destroying this team's future like other teams will be in five to ten years. Given that the team barely missed the playoffs in 2023, Hoyer doesn't need to go all out yet to field a playoff-caliber team. Guys like Bellinger and Imanaga are the perfect targets to get back to October while keeping the future alive.

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