Drew Smyly declined his end of a $10MM mutual option in his contract with the Cubs, as Jordan Bastian of MLB.com was among those to relay (on Twitter). He’ll collect a $1MM buyout and head back to free agency.
It’s virtually a formality that every mutual option will be declined by one side, and Smyly’s decision doesn’t register as much of a surprise. He’s likely to look for a multi-year deal this winter. The veteran southpaw is coming off a decent season for Chicago, pitching to a 3.47 ERA through 106 1/3 innings over 22 starts. His 20.4% strikeout rate was a hair below average, but he only walked 5.8% of opposing hitters and had a solid 12.4% swinging strike rate.
Smyly and the Cubs reportedly kicked around extension talks last month. Obviously, nothing has come to fruition, but Bastian notes the Cubs are still interested in keeping the 33-year-old around. They’ll retain exclusive negotiating rights through Thursday evening, but it looks likely the Frontline client will soon be in contact with other clubs with no extension in place.
Chicago doesn’t have a ton of certainty behind Marcus Stroman in their season-opening rotation. Kyle Hendricks figures to assume a spot if healthy; he’s yet to begin a throwing program after his 2022 season was cut short by a capsule tear in his throwing shoulder, although the Cubs aren’t concerned about his availability for Spring Training. Justin Steele looks like a rotation lock, but Chicago’s likely to seek upgrades over Adrian Sampson and Keegan Thompson at the back end. Even if they manage to retain Smyly, they figure to explore a deep starting pitching free agent class.