The Cubs are “deep in discussions” with free agent Drew Smyly, reports Bruce Levine of 670 The Score (on Twitter). If a deal were to get across the finish line, it’d technically mark Smyly’s second stint as a Cub. The left-hander signed with Chicago over the 2017-18 offseason, but he missed the entire season due to injury and was traded to the Rangers the following winter.
Smyly has bounced between four clubs in the three years since. He split the 2019 campaign between Texas and Philadelphia. After a terrible start to the year with the Rangers, he bounced back to provide the Phils with capable back-of-the-rotation production. The Giants signed Smyly that winter, and while he only worked 26 1/3 innings during the shortened schedule, he struck out an incredible 37.8% of opposing hitters.
That small-sample performance intrigued the Braves enough they rolled the dice on an $11MM guarantee for Smyly last offseason. He didn’t sustain the huge spike in whiffs, though, as his strikeout rate fell to a slightly below-average 21.4% mark. That was much more in line with his career rate, and Smyly struggled to keep the ball in the yard en route to a 4.48 ERA. He did make 29 appearances (including 23 starts) for the World Series champs, absorbing 126 2/3 innings.
There hasn’t been much buzz since Smyly hit the open market this time around, but he’s one of the more accomplished arms remaining in a free agent rotation class that has thinned out. The 32-year-old owns a 4.18 ERA in 837 1/3 innings over parts of eight big league seasons. He’s a generally productive back-end starter who has shown flashes of mid-rotation or better upside during his career. The Cubs don’t have a ton of certainty in the rotation beyond the top trio of Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks and Wade Miley — particularly with righty Adbert Alzolay missing at least the first two months of the season.