LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Brandon Morrow is officially official as a member of the Cubs pitching staff, and the team also added another intriguing arm Tuesday night at the Winter Meetings.
The Cubs announced a two-year deal for Morrow with a club/vesting option for 2020.
They also signed left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly on a two-year deal worth a reported $10 million, though the 28-year-old pitcher had Tommy John in June and likely won't contribute much in 2018.
The Cubs are looking toward the future with Smyly as a possible 2019 rotation piece. If he's able to return at all in 2018, it will probably be as a bullpen option.
Smyly did not pitch at all in 2017 and was non-tendered by the Seattle Mariners on Dec. 1. He made 30 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays (and new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey) in 2016, going 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA.
Smyly was one of the pieces that went from the Detroit Tigers to the Rays for David Price at the trade deadline in 2014. In his first 19 starts with the Rays between 2014 and 2015, Smyly went 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 114.1 innings.
With Smyly not expected to impact 2018's rotation, the Cubs might still be in the market for another starting pitcher this winter, or they might choose to honor Mike Montgomery's wishes and insert him into the rotation full-time (and subsequently look for a potential swingman for the bullpen and rotation depth).
It'd be hard to just hand Smyly a spot in the 2019 Cubs rotation, but the Cubs committing somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million on a two-year deal indicates they're serious about his long-term potential. Plus, he won't turn 30 until June 2019.
The Cubs also have their other four starters — Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood — all signed through the 2020 season, so either they won't be in hard on long-term free-agent signings like Alex Cobb or would just stockpile pitching and sort out any possible six-man rotation issues a year from now.
Morrow is expected to be in the mix for closing duties for the Cubs but could also serve in an Andrew Miller-esque role and be a jack of all trades as a high-leverage option.
The Cubs still figure to be in the market for relief pitching even after the Morrow signing.