Shota Imanaga's posting window could drive urgency for Chicago Cubs

There has been a high cost on pitching this off-season and that could complicate the Chicago Cubs' pursuit of Japanese starting pitcher Shota Imanaga.

Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) pitches against the USA
Mar 21, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) pitches against the USA / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
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Shota Imanaga may be the first major free-agent signing of 2024 for Major League Baseball.

While the Chicago Cubs were never fully in the mix to sign Japanese starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the team has been linked to Shota Imanaga. Given his age, 30, Imanaga is not believed to be in the market for the type of deal that Yamamoto signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers but given the way spending has trended this off-season, Imanaga may be priced out of the Cubs' preference for starting pitchers.

Initial contract projections for Imanaga have centered around $100MM for five years but with teams such as the New York Yankees and New York Mets being left with money to spend after missing on Yamamoto, the price may be higher.

In any event, Imanaga's decision will need to be made within the next two weeks. Imanaga's posting window closes on January 11. If Imanaga does not reach a deal with a Major League team by January 11, he will be forced to return to Japan for another season.

Imanaga has a five-pitch mix that does translate well to the Major League style of play but he likely won't sit at the top of a rotation. However, given his command and ability to generate weak contact, Imanaga could be a great fit for the Cubs in the middle of their rotation behind Justin Steele and Jameson Taillon.

For what the Cubs need in terms of a rotation upgrade, Imanaga is a near-perfect fit. The Cubs likely would not meet the asking price that Scott Boras has for Blake Snell nor would have taking a flier on Lucas Giolito made any sense for the team. Imanaga provides stability while being able to eat innings, the thing the Cubs lost when Marcus Stroman opted out his contract at the start of the off-season.

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