Red Sox

Red Sox free agent target Marcus Stroman signs with Cubs

Red Sox

Classify this as spending intelligently.

The Cubs have signed Marcus Stroman, the right-hander tweeted Wednesday, bringing one of the best starting pitchers on this offseason’s free agent market to the North Side.

It’s the Cubs’ biggest addition not only so far this offseason, but their biggest in nearly four winters. They signed Yu Darvish to a six-year deal at the start of spring training in February 2018.

The Cubs entered this winter with a priority to improve their pitching staff and upgrade the starting rotation. Stroman, who turns 31 next May, checks that box as a durable top-of-the-rotation arm.

Stroman, an All-Star in 2019 and Gold Glove winner in 2017, holds a career 3.63 ERA in seven seasons between the Blue Jays and Mets. He’s coming off an impressive season in Queens in which he led MLB in starts (33), finishing with a 3.02 ERA and 1.145 WHIP in 179 innings.

He’s made 32+ starts four times in the last five full seasons. Stroman opted out of the pandemic-shortened 60-game 2020 season.

Stroman doesn’t rely on high-90s velocity to get batters out. He's effective at inducing groundballs and primarily has a four-pitch mix (sinker, slider, split finger fastball and cutter) with an ability to throw two more (four-seamer and curveball).

He was a Cubs trade target during their rebuild pre-2016 and now is a key piece as they try to build their next championship contender.

The Boston Red Sox were one of the teams interested in signing the right-hander in free agency before the deal was put in place with the Cubs.