If there is one priority for the Chicago Cubs during this offseason, that is bolstering their rotation.
They have Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Henricks as the first three names on the rotation, but the rest is unclear at the moment. With no viable alternatives in the minors and Mike Montgomery better suited for a swingman role out of the bullpen, the 2016 World Series champions need to acquire at least two arms in the open market to build a rotation worthy of a contending team.
And with that in mind, the Cubs have already acquired their first arm during the free agency period when they inked Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal worth $38 million.
The 27-year-old right-hander posted an 8-15 mark last season with a 4.69 ERA in 33 games with the Colorado Rockies, although only 25 of those were starts. Chatwood will most likely settle as the fourth starter in the rotation.
Some experts are not happy with the move, but I strongly disagree. It takes a quick look at Chatwood’s stats from last season to realize the problem wasn’t on him, but rather on his environment because his home/road splits were quite strong.
The numbers do not lie. He was 3-8 with a 6.01 ERA in 17 games (12 starts) in Denver while going 5-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) on the road. In fact, Chatwood ranks second in the NL in road ERA since the beginning of the 2016 season with a 2.57 mark, trailing only the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (2.16). In short? He dazzles on the road and should produce far better results at Wrigley Field than he did at Coors Field.
The contract was a relatively short one, and even though $38 million is a lot of money, it is not that much for a starting pitcher based on how crazy the market has gone over the past two years. Let’s remember Jake Arrieta is looking to sign for around $200M, and soon that’s going to be the norm. If we put that into context, there’s no question signing Chatwood to a short, non-expensive deal was the right move. Both parties can part ways if things don’t work out, and it wouldn’t be much of a problem for Chicago.
Only time will tell whether this was another wise move from the Cubs, or if they will end up regretting it. But at least on paper, Chatwood was a great buy-low option if he can maintain the form he showed away from Coors Field last season.