Cubs reportedly add to pitching staff with Jameson Taillon signing
SAN DIEGO — The Cubs have agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon, according to reports:
Jameson Taillon has agreed to a 4-year, $68 million deal with the #Cubs, sources confirm @JeffPassan and @JesseRogersESPN report. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2022
This move follows the reported signing of center fielder Cody Bellinger on what turned out to be a busy Tuesday for the Cubs during the Winter Meetings.
Taillon turned 31 last month and is a former 1st round pick (No. 2 overall in 2010). He made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 2016 and enjoyed success immediately with a 3.38 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
In 2018, he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while leading the league in complete games (2) and shutouts (1).
Taillon missed most of the 2019 season with an elbow injury and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that kept him out of action for all of 2020. It was his second such surgery, also undergoing the procedure in April 2014 when he was a Top 20 prospect in baseball and on the cusp of the big leagues.
In January of 2021, Taillon was traded to the Yankees and served as a solid option in the New York rotation over the last two seasons. He has made at least 29 starts each year with the Yankees, going 22-11 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 291 strikeouts in 321.2 innings.
MLB Trade Rumors tabbed Taillon as the No. 14 free agent entering the offseason and the 6th ranked pitcher behind Carlos Rodón, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Koudai Senga and Chris Bassitt.
He provides depth for the Cubs rotation with the potential for more upside. He’s also a long-term addition to the pitching staff as the deal could keep him in town through the 2026 season.
Expect Taillon to slot in alongside Marcus Stroman and Justin Steele on the starting staff while Kyle Hendricks’ health is still a question mark after a shoulder injury limited him to just 16 starts in 2022.
Hayden Wesneski, Adrian Sampson, Keegan Thompson, Adbert Alzolay, Javier Assad and Caleb Kilian represent in-house rotation depth. Thompson and Alzolay have found success in a multi-inning relief role in the past so they could fold into the bullpen if they don’t win a spot in the Opening Day rotation.
The Cubs entered the offseason looking for more reliable depth on the starting staff given the youth and inexperience of the current roster (plus Hendricks’ health).
The team’s toughest stretch in 2022 came when injuries hit the starting staff and veteran options like Hendricks, Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly were on the shelf.
So even while there are a bunch of young, up-and-coming potential starters already on the roster, the Cubs know they can never have too much pitching depth.
“You can never have enough pitching,” Cubs GM Carter Hawkins said Tuesday before the Taillon move was reported. “That’s a pretty tried and true heuristic there. We would absolutely look to add as many [arms] as we can.
“I think we do have great internal options already that are guys that we want to continue to give innings to but there are other guys out there that we’d be interested in bringing on board and continue to supplement that staff and definitely we’re engaged in that market.”
Taillon has averaged 94.1 mph on his fastball since returning from Tommy John and also throws a cutter, sinker, changeup, slider and curveball.