The Cubs have signed left-handed starter Drew Smyly to a two-year deal, the club announced Tuesday evening. Smyly has not pitched since the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and will miss most of the 2018 season as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is worth $10 million, with an additional $7 million available in incentives.
The Cubs have long been rumored to be pursuing starting pitching help even after signing Tyler Chatwood to a three-year deal earlier this month. While Chicago has often been linked to free agent Alex Cobb, the addition of Smyly should not completely squander those rumors; Smyly looks like more of a reclamation project with a good chance to crack the 2019 rotation.
Smyly, 28, missed all of 2017 after injuring his shoulder during the WBC, despite throwing 4.2 scoreless innings in his only appearance. Smyly was dealt to the Mariners last January, but never played an official game for the club. Previously with the Tiger and Rays, Smyly saw his numbers slip a bit in 2016 with career-worsts 4.88 ERA and 1.6 HR/9 in 175.1 innings.
Smyly is a good gamble for a Cubs franchise with four solidified starting pitchers signed longterm: Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, and Chatwood. While the Cubs will pay the five-year veteran around $5 million this season to rehab, Chicago is mostly eyeing 2019 in hopes of Smyly earning a spot in the starting rotation.
The strongest season of Smyly's career came in 2013, in which the left-hander was used exclusively out of the bullpen. Pitching for Detroit, Smyly posted a 2.37 ERA and a 4.76 K/BB ratio across 76.0 innings, good for a whopping 2.6 bWAR in relief. When Smyly has fully recovered from TJS, Chicago can toy with integrating Smyly back into the rotation, but also has the option to use Smyly as a swingman.
Smyly was drafted out of the University of Arkansas by the Tigers in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft, and has amassed a career record of 31-27 with a 3.74 ERA in 156 career appearances.