The Cubs decided yesterday that lefty Drew Smyly will not make it back onto the MLB roster this season, as Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com was among those to report (Twitter links). Instead, he’ll focus on preparing himself for a full and healthy 2019 campaign.
Smyly, who is now 29 years of age, signed a two-year deal with the Chicago organization last winter after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2017. It includes a $10MM guarantee with $6MM in available incentives for the 2019 campaign.
There had been some hope all along that Smyly could represent a notable late-season addition. Particularly with the problems surrounding many of the team’s other key offseason pitching additions, it’d be nice to have the southpaw available. High-priced righty Yu Darvish is done for the year, while fellow rotation addition Tyler Chatwood has not worked out. In the pen, closer Brandon Morrow is still trying to get back from injury and LOOGY Brian Duensing has endured a miserable campaign.
Surely, with the division race still very much in the air, the Cubs would have given Smyly a look if he was truly prepared. He was able to make a single rehab appearance, but evidently did not respond well enough to make it worthwhile to continue pressing for a 2018 return.
Of course, the contract was signed with full knowledge that there were good odds the first season would be a wash. The Cubs hoped, mostly, that they’d recoup their investment in the 2019 campaign. It’ll be interesting to see to what extent the front office relies upon Smyly in structuring the approaching offseason. At the very least, he’ll be seen as an important part of the depth picture, in the rotation and perhaps also the bullpen, but it’ll be hard to allocate too much faith until he gets on the mound in camp. With no small amount of uncertainty in the rotation mix, the organization figures to face some tough roster questions — beginning with a decision on the team’s option over resurgent veteran Cole Hamels.