Cubs 2021 Rotation Roundabout
Arrieta should be exciting to watch in 2021 (Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports)

Cubs 2021 Rotation Roundabout

by - Staff Writer -

As the offseason has rolled on, we have seen the Cubs have a massive turnaround in their starting rotation.

The offseason began with various pieces of the Cubs’ starting rotation moving on through free agency. The Cubs lost Tyler Chatwood to the Toronto Blue Jays, Jose Quintana to the Los Angeles Angels, and one of the most influential players in the franchises’ history, Jon Lester, to the Washington Nationals.

Here are how those deals turned out:

Chatwood - one year, three million dollars

Quintana - one year, eight million dollars

Lester - one year, five million dollars

The Cubs also lost expected depth piece Colin Rea, who decided to turn his career overseas. In addition to that, we can’t forget the Cubs’ sending Yu Darvish (and over $50 million) of his contract along with Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres and got back four young prospects and Zach Davies for the rotation.

That was the last step of the Cubs’ dismantling of their rotation — dumping Darvish — and also the first step in piecing it back together — acquiring Zach Davies.

Davies, who has a career 3.79 ERA, slots in nicely to the rotation. The right-hander will likely be the Cubs’ No.2 starter — he may not even be a starter on the Dodgers or Padres — and presents a viable option to eat innings for the Cubs in 2021 before he becomes a free agent.

The Cubs then continued their offseason by acquiring a couple of depth pieces to the starting rotation, including former Pittsburgh Pirate Trevor Williams. Williams has had a rough go at it lately, but in 2018, Williams was 14-10 with a 3.11 ERA. The Cubs will hope to implement their pitch-lab techniques to get Williams back toward his 2018 form or better. The Cubs inked Williams for 2.5 million.

Not to mention, the Cubs also signed former trade target Shelby Miller to a minor league deal. Miller was a 2015 all-star but has battled both injuries and a few trips to the bullpen over the last couple of seasons. Miller last pitched in 2019 for the Rangers and had an 8.59 ERA in 19 appearances. If Miller makes the Cubs roster, he will make $875k in 2021.

The latest, and most prominent addition to the rotation, is the 2015 CY Young Award winner and 2016 World Series Champion Jake Arrieta. Arrieta signed a one year, six million dollar deal and returns to the Cubs after three disappointing seasons in Philadelphia — but the Cubs know how well Arrieta takes care of his body and hope that reuniting him with the Cubs’ pitch lab and an organization he is familiar with could return him to some of his previous success. Plus, Arrieta’s leadership is a great boost to a young pitching staff — and his signing certainly lifts morale in the city.

So as it currently stands, the Cubs have lost four starters from their staff in 2020 and have added three (maybe four) for the upcoming 2021 season.

It’s just odd to think about the fact that the Cubs cleared up well over 25 million dollars for 2021 when they traded You Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres — and that if you add up the contracts given out to starting pitchers and the money given by other teams to the starters the Cubs’ lost, the price adds up to right around $25 million. While Darvish was outstanding — the NL’s runner-up in Cy Young voting — signing seven pitchers for the price of one is something the Cubs could have almost done, which might prove vital in a season the Cubs’ rotation will have to pick up over 100 more games.

The Cubs will return their 2020 opening day starter in Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills, and look for more contribution in the starting rotation from Adbert Alzolay. Davies and Arrieta expect to be in that rotation in some capacity as well. It appears that the fifth starter spot could be a competition between Alzolay, Williams, and Miller, among others — but depth will certainly be essential in the 2021 season.

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