‘Great fit’: How the Cubs sold Jameson Taillon on Chicago, pitching at Wrigley Field
Throughout his free agency process, Jameson Taillon saw much of the same.
The messages varied, but the messengers were similar from every team — there were conversations with managers and front office members — they all tried to sell him on their vision for their respective teams.
But no team went above and beyond like the Cubs did.
Cubs vice president of pitching Craig Breslow flew out to New York early in the free agency period to meet Taillon. They planned for a half hour meeting, but it quickly turned into a two-hour session “nerding out on pitching.”
But the Cubs didn’t stop there. They sent Taillon customized videos that showcased Wrigley Field, the history of the franchise, the city of Chicago and the fans that pack the iconic stadium.
“It was definitely genuine,” Taillon said. “It felt like a great fit.”
That stuck with him.
Taillon would watch the videos daily, keeping the idea of donning the blue pinstripes in historic Wrigley Field fresh in his mind. He did his own research, too. He spoke with former Yankee teammates Anthony Rizzo and Scott Effross and former Pirates teammate Trevor Williams about the Cubs and setup in Chicago.
“All the feedback that I got was, “Dude, if you have the opportunity to play there, you really have to take it,’” Taillon said. “Effross and Trevor Williams would text me and be like, ‘Are you a Cub yet? It’s gonna be such a great fit.’”
The realization that it was a perfect match continued to grow with each passing day. He harkened back on his time playing with the Pirates, a frequent guest to Chicago as a fellow NL Central team. He recalled his first time at Wrigley Field on June 17, 2016 when a dominant Jake Arrieta took the mound and struck out 11 Pirates over 6 innings.
“I remember just like taking a step back and feeling the environment — there’s nothing better than a day game at Wrigley in the summer,” Taillon said. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘This is the big leagues right here. This is The Show.’”
Taillon looked at the Cubs roster and how they performed in the second half — something the Cubs tried to sell him on. He saw the performances of the starting rotation in the second half, when they were a top 3 rotation in baseball. The idea of pitching with established veterans like Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks was appealing, as was working with some young guys like Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele “that maybe the rest of the league might not know quite yet.”
Then as the decision became more and more evident, he went back to that meeting with Breslow in New York. He remembered the custom slideshow that Breslow had presented about what they would theoretically work on together if he joined the team, on some different pitch usage and how they could improve.
It made the decision a no-brainer.
And after he agreed to terms, the choice looked better and better.
The Cubs added center fielder Cody Bellinger at roughly the same time and then added shortstop Dansby Swanson over the weekend.
“I thought it was gonna be a great fit regardless,” Taillon said. “Now that I’ve come onboard and seen some of the other signings and stuff it’s definitely really exciting.”
It’s made him anxious to start work.
A few days ago, he met with the Cubs pitching department and members of the team’s research and development team to map out an offseason plan.
“I feel like I still have some untapped potential that I’m really trying to hunt down and I felt like this was a great fit to help me find that,” Taillon said.
If he can do that, he believes the Cubs have enough talent to surprise outsiders in 2023 — and solidify the decision to sign in Chicago.
“I think it’s a solid roster,” Taillon said. “I think from the Cubs’ point of view, I think it’s a division that if you pour into the right guys and create the right roster, the division should be — I don’t want to say up for grabs, we have to go out there and prove it — but it’s a division that’s gettable.
“I’m happy that they’re adding to it, and I think it’s a group that can make some noise.”