MLB Hot Stove Signings: Cubs agree to three-year contract with Tyler Chatwood

It was no secret the Chicago Cubs would need to add rotation help this offseason. Stalwarts Jake Arrieta and John Lackey became free agents, and as talented as the Cubbies are, they don't have the prospect depth to replace those two internally.

On Thursday, Chicago took a big step toward improving their rotation by agreeing to a three-year contract with free agent righty Tyler Chatwood. The team has confirmed the contract but not the financial terms.

Chatwood will join Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana in the team's rotation. The fifth spot could go to Mike Montgomery or another offseason addition.

The 27-year-old Chatwood was one of the youngest and most intriguing free agents on the market. Since returning from his second career Tommy John surgery in 2016, he threw 305 2/3 innings with a 4.27 ERA (115 ERA+) for the Rockies. His numbers away from Coors Field were ace-like:

IP

ERA

WHIP

FIP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

GB%

Home

148 1/3

6.07

1.66

5.03

6.9

4.3

1.3

58.4%

Road

157 1/3

2.57

1.17

4.23

7.0

4.4

0.8

56.8%

Now, it's not necessarily correct to take a player's numbers away from Coors Field and assume that's the real him -- three of the other four NL West parks are big-time pitcher's parks, after all -- but clearly Chatwood is someone who could benefit from the move out of Colorado.

Furthermore, Chatwood is a spin rate darling. His curveball spin rate, a skill teams are seeking out these days, was among the best in baseball the last two years. Here is the average curveball spin rate leaderboard from 2016-17 (min. 300 curveballs thrown):

  1. Seth Lugo: 3,148 rpm
  2. Ryan Pressly: 3,042 rpm
  3. Jesse Hahn: 3,009 rpm
  4. Tyler Chatwood: 2,952 rpm
  5. Jeremy Hellickson: 2,948 rpm
    (MLB average: 2,477 rpm)

There is more to life than spin rate, and Chatwood comes with some obvious risk. Two Tommy John surgeries is always a red flag, plus Chatwood's walk problems have been around his entire career and aren't limited to Coors Field.

This signing does come with quite a bit of upside, however, thanks to Chatwood's age and the fact he does have elite spin on his breaking ball. This is similar to the Charlie Morton deal last year. Some risk, but also plenty of upside if the Cubs can help Chatwood gain some more consistency.

Chatwood ranked 27th on our top 50 free agents list, and seventh among starting pitchers.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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