Cubs News

Cubs bolster rotation by bringing back Drew Smyly on two-year contract

1 year agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs continued to make additions to their roster.

The team is bringing back lefty starter Drew Smyly on a 2-year deal with a mutual option for the 2025 season. Smyly’s addition gives the Cubs another veteran starter and rotation piece. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs have designated right-handed reliever Erich Uelmen for assignment. 

Smyly was a strong starter for the Cubs in 2022, albeit while dealing with injuries throughout the year. He posted a 3.47 ERA and a 1.194 WHIP in 22 starts. He was stellar in August with a 0.90 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 5 starts. 

He made no secret of his desire to return to the team, even amidst injuries and a season in which the Cubs didn’t contend for the playoffs.

“I would love to come back, like I’ve said all season, just playing games here and putting on this uniform is really special,” Smyly said near the end of the season in October. “I know I can help this team win in the future, so we’ll see. It doesn’t matter what I think, it’s up to them.”

Clearly, the Cubs felt similar.

Bringing back Smyly gives the Cubs another rotation piece. They added Jameson Taillon earlier in the offseason, according to reports, and have Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele and others to compete for rotation spots. 

Smyly was a big part of the Cubs rotation when they were going through their most successful period — Cubs starters had the third-best ERA (2.89) in baseball after the All-Star break, behind only the Astros and Dodgers.

Smyly’s addition also gives some of an insurance policy to the Cubs rotation. They’ve clearly shown trust in turning to some of their young homegrown pitchers to be part of their rotation, but having a veteran like Smyly can provide cover for young arms like Hayden Wesneski, Keegan Thompson and Javier Assad. It allows the younger pitchers to spot start, pitch out of the bullpen or provide depth at Triple-A. If the Cubs hope to compete in 2023, having an insurance policy in Smyly can ease some of the pressure on those young arms.

The Cubs’ signing of Dansby Swanson improves their defense on a whole and with a pitcher like Smyly whose game is predicated on soft contact, that defensive improvement raises his profile on the team.

Uelmen made his big-league debut in 2022 and posted a 4.67 ERA across 27 major league innings. He was 2-1 with a save and 3 holds in his major-league career. 

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