Cubs could be ‘next up’ in starting pitching market
SAN DIEGO — With Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander off the board, now might be the time for the Cubs to jump into the starting pitching market.
The pair of aces signed major deals with the Rangers and Mets, respectively, over the last few days but there are still plenty of quality arms available on the free agent market.
The list of names includes Carlos Rodón, Chris Bassitt and Koudai Senga.
It’s those last two names that MLB Network insider Jon Morosi believes could be a fit on the North Side.
“The Cubs are now next up,” Morosi said on Cubs 360 Monday evening. “Once Verlander went off the board, deGrom as well, this is now the class of pitching that I’ve been hearing the Cubs are playing in. Sources tell me Chris Bassitt is someone they’ve talked about, Koudai Senga as well.
“And remember, Senga’s really important. He’s coming over from Japan — therefore there’s no draft pick compensation attached to him. Also, no posting fee. He’s a straight international free agent — he was able to qualify for that.
“So when you think about that, it really allows the Cubs to be aggressive in this next group. There’s a lot of teams that want pitching now and whether it’s Bassitt or Senga, now it’s the Cubs’ turn to make a splash.”
Bassitt will turn 34 in February and has enjoyed a successful 8-year MLB career with the White Sox, Oakland A’s and Mets. He has been one of the most underrated pitchers in the game in recent seasons as he has posted a 32-15 record, 3.13 ERA and 1.11 WHIP since the start of 2020.
Senga will turn 30 in January after a dominant run in Japan. In 11 seasons in Nippon Professional Baseball, the right-hander was 87-44 with a 2.59 ERA and 1,252 strikeouts in 1,089 innings.
Senga was even better in 2022 with a 1.94 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 9.8 K/9. He can touch triple digits with his fastball but his best pitch might be his splitter.
He has some familiarity with Seiya Suzuki from playing together on the Japan national team and the Cubs’ recent courtship of Suzuki in free agency could work to their benefit here.
“The Cubs now organizationally are familiar with that process of bringing a player over from Japan, helping them feel comfortable in Year 1,” Morosi said on 360. “I think we saw as the year went along Suzuki get more and more comfortable. I think Senga might be the same template to follow there as well.”