By Bruce Levine–
ORLANDO, Fla. (670 The Score) — When the Cubs emphasized they’re on a mission to acquire pitching depth, they were serious about the present and the future.
On Tuesday evening, Chicago added its third pitcher in the past five days. The Cubs signed left-hander Drew Smyly to a two-year deal and also made official the addition of righty reliever Brandon Morrow on a two-year contract with with an option for 2020 after he had verbally agreed to a deal with them Sunday. The moves came after the Cubs signed right-hander Tyler Chatwood to a three-year contract last Thursday.
The addition of Smyly, 28, is the intriguing move. He underwent Tommy John surgery last July and will be sidelined for much if not all of 2018 as he continues to rehab. The common return time from Tommy John surgery is 12 to 18 months.
In Smyly, the Cubs believe they’ve added a pitcher who has tremendous upside as a starter. He has a career 3.74 ERA. His best season came in 2014, when he had a 3.24 ERA and was dealt from the Tigers to the Rays as part of the David Price trade. Smyly last pitched in 2016, when he had a 4.88 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 30 starts.
Smyly played under Cubs manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay in 2014 and was mentored by new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey for four seasons with the Rays.
Smyly’s deal is for $10 million and possibly more with incentives.
“He had Tommy John on his elbow July 6 of last season,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said of Smyly. “He will be rehabbing, so anything we get out of him next year will be gravy. He may be able to help us out of the bullpen late next season, but this is a move that is focused for 2019. He is a really good high-quality pitcher. We are excited to get him on this deal. We will rehab him and hopefully get him back to where he was.”
Smyly’s relationship with Maddon and Hickey helped solidify the connection and signing.
“Both guys liked him a lot,” Hoyer said. “We talked to Jim about him. He thinks really highly of him. He said that he is exceptionally deceptive with how he pitches. His fastball and change are very deceptive. He has a good cutter. Jim loves how he competes. So he was a big part of us wanting to do this.
“We hope he will be a big part of things for us in 2019.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.