The Cubs have agreed a four-year, $68 million deal with a right-hander Jameson Tailloncorresponding ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan. Taillon is represented by Excel Sports Management. Taillon was one of the best remaining options on the market for start pitching.
Carlos Rodon is the lone ace unsigned yet while players like it Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi and Noah Syndergard Join Taillon in the next stage. The Cubs were widely expected to dip the free hand to tackle their rotation, and it appears they will indeed do so to grab an arm mid-rotation.
Once the deal is finalized, Taillon will be sent back to NL HQ. He spent much of his career there, breaking into the professional ranks in 2010 as the Pirates’ 2nd overall pick. He appeared in Baseball America’s top 30 prospects for each of the next five years, with his rise to the minor league ranks being delayed by Tommy John’s surgery. By 2016, he reached the big leagues, breaking in with 18 starts from 3.38 ERA balls.
This started a series of solid seasons in black and gold. Taillon combined 57 starts over the next two years and posted a 3.71 ERA. He missed some time fighting testicular cancer in 2017 but quickly beat the disease, remarkably only missing about a month. Taillon avoided the injury list until the end of the 2018 season, but his elbow blew seven starts into the 2019 season. He underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career in August and spent the entire following season in rehab.
It was an unwelcome end to his time at Pittsburgh as Bucs’ rebuild brought him to the Yankees in the 2020-21 offseason. New York surrendered four young players including Roansy Contrerasto land Taillon. It was a bit risky for him to bounce back from surgery, but he actually came back as his former self mid-rotation. Taillon’s two seasons in the Bronx were strikingly similar to his Pittsburgh years.
During his two-year run in pinstripes, he posted a 4.08 ERA over 321 2/3 innings. The Texas native posted a strikeout rate of 21.9%, which is about the league average, and outperformed less than 6% of his opponents. His allowed ground ball and hard contact rates were mid-table, but he hammered the hitting zone and handled hitters from either side of the bowl reasonably well. His belongings also returned just below pre-surgery levels. Taillon’s fastball has checked in around 94 MPH each of the last two seasons while relying on a mid-80s slider and low-80s curveball for secondary pitches.
Taillon turned 31 last month, so he should still have a few main seasons ahead of him. It’s certainly risky investing in a jug with two Tommy John surgeries on his medical record, but he’s avoided any arm problems for the past two years. His only stint in IL was a brief absence due to a calf problem towards the end of the ’21 campaign.
The Cubs find themselves in a middle ground between conversion and full-fledged combat. They are coming off a second straight losing season, but baseball operations president Jed Hoyer has suggested that the front office plans to actively strengthen the MLB roster. To that end, they have already reached agreements with the former MVP Cody Bellinger on a bounceback deal to play in midfield and it appears Taillon will follow suit.
Starting pitching was one of the bigger questions on the roster. Chicago signed Markus Stroman to a three-year warranty in the final off-season. He’ll be raring to go, although he may opt out late next year. Kyle Hendricks is under contract for another season and would be eligible for a rotation if he were healthy, but he is rehabilitating from a ruptured capsule in his throwing shoulder. Justin Steele earned a spot in rotation with a solid rookie season. The backend is totally up in the air, with players like Keegan Thompson, Adrian Samson and beginners Hayden Wesneski, Javier Assad and Caleb Killian everyone scrambles for work. Adding a stable, medium-rotation pitcher like Taillon makes a lot of sense for a team without many definite innings.
That’s especially true since the signing of Taillon won’t cost the Cubs any draft decisions. New York, oddly enough, chose not to make him a qualifying offer of $19.65 million at the end of the season, allowing him to enter the market unencumbered.
MLBTR forecast a four-year, $56 million deal for the offseason, so Taillon’s deal goes a little beyond that. So far, the rotary market has generally developed more robustly than expected. Zach Eflin and Tyler Anderson both landed three-year deals in the $40 million range, while Taijuan Walker tonight agreed a surprise $72 million four-year guarantee with the Phillies.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Stephen Nesbitt were the first to report that the Cubs made a powerful push for Taillon (shortcut). MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted that the sides were approaching an agreement. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and Jeff Passan announced The deal was agreed and financial terms added.
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