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‘He’s a guy we’ve had our eye for a long time’ – Boston Herald


The Chicago Cubs’ upgrades at the winter meetings didn’t stop in center field.

A run on free-agent starting pitchers over the last week prompted the Cubs to acquire a coveted arm.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon reached an agreement with the team late Tuesday. The deal reportedly is for $68 million over four years. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer lauded Taillon’s pitch mix, command and great makeup he brings to the clubhouse.

“He’s a guy we’ve had our eye on for a long time,” Hoyer said Thursday before departing the winter meetings. “He’s a really good starting pitcher. He’s been really consistent. He’s continued to get better as he’s gotten healthier in his career.

“Obviously it was an aggressive pitching market here, and we’re really excited to get a guy we targeted from the beginning.”

After adding center fielder Cody Bellinger on a one-year, $17.5 million deal earlier Tuesday, the Cubs needed to find upper-tier pitching to strengthen a rotation that for stretches carried the team last season. Taillon pairs well with right-hander Marcus Stroman as proven starters.

“Listen, pitching wins. Pitching and defense is such a big part of the game,” Hoyer said. “And I think the stretches last year where we struggled, it was because we didn’t have enough pitching. And the stretches that we were a good team, we pitched well and played good defense. You can’t have enough pitching.”

Hoyer believes Taillon has more in the tank coming off a strong two-year stretch with the New York Yankees. Taillon, who turned 31 last month, finished the season with a 3.91 ERA, 20.7 K%, 4.4 BB% and 100 ERA+ in 177.1 innings (32 starts).

During his six-year big-league career, injuries have challenged Taillon, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tommy John surgery cost him the 2014 season, and that, combined with hernia surgery, caused him to miss 2015 as well. In May 2016, Taillon had surgery for testicular cancer, returning to the Pirates two months later. A forearm injury limited Taillon, who eventually underwent a second Tommy John surgery in August 2019 that ended his season after only seven starts. The rehab process prevented him from coming back during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

The Cubs have more work to do when they return to Chicago. They still lack an impact hitter, though their involvement in the free-agent shortstop market could change that. Taillon is not expected to be the only pitcher they add this offseason, but he might end up as the highest pitcher contract they give.

The Cubs are interested in adding more starting pitching, but the pitcher would need to be good enough to push someone on the roster to the bullpen or Triple A. Depth remains a priority, too, for a pitching staff that was challenged by injuries for stretches in 2022.

“As we add starters, we’re pushing someone really good that could potentially be a multi-inning weapon,” Hoyer said. “It’s really hard when you have a bullpen of four or five one-inning guys. It’s hard not to overuse those guys. It’s hard not to get banged up during the course of the summer.”

An aggressive relief market thus far creates another dimension to the roster-building approach. Expect the Cubs to continue their track record of value signings similar to Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Chris Martin — finding relievers they can help take to the next level. The Cubs do not have an appetite for offering a higher-tier reliever a multiyear contract.



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