The Chicago Cubs have made their second free agent slash of the Winter Meetings. The Cubbies and right-hander Jameson Taillon have agreed to a four-year contract worth $68 million, reports ESPN. Chicago signed former NL MVP Cody Bellinger to a one-year deal worth $17.5M on Tuesday and they're said to be in the mix for the top free agent shortstops as well.
Taillon, 31, spent the last two seasons with the New York Yankees. He threw 177 1/3 innings with a 3.91 ERA in 2022 and is more of a contact manager than a strikeout artist. Taillon's arm has been healthy since returning from his second career Tommy John surgery two years ago and he's is viewed as a pitcher with untapped potential because he has six pitches and has pitching smarts.
Our R.J. Anderson ranked Taillon the No. 16 available free agent this offseason. Here's his write-up:
Taillon is your broken-in pair of sneakers. He's not flashy, but he achieves the desired effect provided expectations are kept in check. Over the last two seasons, he's started 61 times and amassed a 100 ERA+ while averaging around 5.3 innings per pop. He has a wide arsenal, complete with three fastball variants, though he's just-OK at missing bats and barrels. You may think Taillon pounds the strike zone based on his walk rate. He doesn't. He throws a below-average amount of pitches within the zone, making up for it by generating slightly more chases than the average bear. Maybe Taillon isn't your old sneakers, maybe he's your second-favorite TV show as a kid. Watching him now, he's not as good as you remember, but you often walk away satisfied.
Taillon will join Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, and Justin Steele in Chicago's rotation. Candidates for the No. 5 spot include Javier Assad, Adrian Sampson, and prospects Caleb Kilian and Hayden Wesneski. Taillon has spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and is certainly familiar with the NL Central and Wrigley Field.
The Cubs went 74-88 in 2022, including 39-31 in the second half. Depending on the rest of their offseason, Chicago could contend for an expanded postseason berth in 2023, if not the NL Central title.