After a shocking first-round exit for the Chicago Cubs, they will look to improve as a unit for the 2021 season. Their main priority will be starting pitching as pitching does win championships.
Trevor Bauer is hot on the market and is someone the Cubs could use. However, his asking price is too high and is unlikely to play for Chicago.
Here are three other starting pitchers the Cubs should target in free agency.
Mike Minor (L)
The Cubs should try and sign the former 2019 All-Star, Mike Minor.
Minor is not the hottest name of the market, but can contribute significantly to the Cubs in the pitching staff.
Although he is coming off his worst year in the majors, going 1-6 with a 5.56 ERA, he is still a solid pitcher that the Cubs can utilize.
From 2018-2019, Minor went 26-18 with a 3.89 ERA in two seasons with the Texas Rangers. He has the potential to be an efficient pitcher winning 10+ games for any club he joins.
Entering his 10th MLB season, Minor has won 10+ games four different times with the Braves and Rangers. Even after an abysmal year, he still has a career record of 71-66 with a 3.98 ERA and over 1,000 strikeouts.
Having one lefty in the starting rotation is always beneficial and Minor would be that guy for the Cubs. After losing Lester and Quintana to free agency, Minor could add some firepower towards the backend of their rotation.
Jake Odorizzi (R)
If the Cubs are willing to spend a little extra cash on starting pitching this offseason, Jake Odorizzi is exactly the guy the Cubs need to sign.
Like Minor, Odorizzi was not effective in 2020. He was dealing with a chest injury and a blister that kept him out for the majority of the year. He only pitched in four games going 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA.
However, Odorizzi will be fully healthy for the 2021 season and should be back to his former form. In 2019, he was an All-Star finishing 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA.
When Odorizzi’s career took off in 2014, he has always been able to keep a steady win total and ERA in each season. He has won 10+ games in four out of seven seasons and had an ERA under 4.25 in five out of seven seasons.
In nine seasons, he has a career record of 62-56 with a 3.92 ERA and 995 strikeouts.
Odorizzi’s success comes from his commanding splitter. His splitter is one of his most effective pitches as he throws it 28.4 percent of the time and has a drop of 33.8 inches. As a result, he has a whiff percentage of 67 percent which is in the upper half of the league.
James Paxton (L)
Another southpaw, James Paxton, makes the list. Paxton is someone that should be at the top of the Cubs free agency list.
Behind Bauer, Paxton could easily be the second-best pitcher in the free agency class.
After a rough 2020 season, his value might have dipped as he went 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA through five starts. However, his previous seasons show his potential on the starting mound.
In 2019 with the Yankees, Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 186 strikeouts.
Additionally, from 2017-2019, Paxton won 10+ games and had an ERA less than 3.85 in three consecutive seasons. He finished with a career-low 2.98 ERA in 2017.
Excluding the 2020 season, Paxton has never finished a season with an ERA greater than 3.90 or a WHIP greater than 1.433.
As a result, he is the most underrated pitcher in baseball as he doesn’t get the national attention that he deserves. Entering his ninth MLB season, Paxton is 57-33 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.213 WHIP.
Although Paxton has not been an All-Star yet, his first All-Star appearance could come soon.
The Cubs could use the southpaw in their rotation. He would have an immediate effect on their roster and could help them be a legit contender in 2021.
Featured Image Courtesy of Dallas Morning News