With the exception of noted shithead Addison Russell, no player was more frustrating to Cubs fans in 2018 than SP Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood was signed in the 2017-2018 offseason to a three-year, US$38 million contract with the Northsiders. He finished the year with a record of 4-6, a 5.30 ERA and an MLB-worst 95 walks over just 103.2 IP in 20 GS, resulting in a staggeringly high BB9 of 8.2, over twice as high as his average of 4.02 for his previous six seasons in the majors. His wildness, and the Cubs’ ability to win despite his efforts, led to his starts being dubbed the “Tyler Chatwood Experience.” The general consensus was that Chatwood’s lack of control was a mental issue and not a physical issue. He had a low innings pitched total in 2018 because he was demoted to the bullpen late in the season following the July acquisition of Cole Hamels, who will be returning to the Cubs in 2019.
Chatwood’s lack of success in a Cubs uniform in the first year of his contract and his less than stellar overall career numbers has caused many a fan to scream for a trade to unload his contract and free up money for a free agent bat. However, the righty’s trade value is virtually nil. But there may be some hope yet in Wrigleyville as the New York Yankees were able to pass the troubled SP Sonny Gray (2018 line: 11-9, 4.90 ERA, 130.1 IP, 1.496 WHIP) and minor-league SP Reiver Sanmartin on to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for prospect Shed Long and a draft pick. If the Yankees could pull off a deal for Gray, the Cubs might be able to find a taker for Chatwood.
The Toronto Blue Jays are once again in need of starting pitching depth thanks to finger problems that have plagued SP Aaron Sanchez and shoulder issues that prevented #1 starter Marcus Stroman from pitching on Opening Day. Marco Estrada has also signed a one-year deal for 2019 with the Oakland Athletics. Possible starting pitchers with MLB experience currently on the Jays’ 40-man roster include Ryan Borucki (2018: 4-6, 3.87 ERA, 17 GS); swingman Sam Gaviglio (2018: 3-10, 5.31 ERA, 24 GS); Thomas Pannone (2018: 4-1, 4.19 ERA, 6 GS); Sean Reid-Foley (2018: 2-4, 5.13 ERA, 7 GS); ex-Cub Clayton Richard (2018: 7-11, 5.33 ERA, 27 GS); Aaron Sanchez (2018: 4-6, 4.89 ERA, 20 GS); Matt Shoemaker (2018: 2-2, 4.94 ERA, 7 GS); and Marcus Stroman (2018: 4-9, 5.54 ERA, 19 GS). Notably, none of these players had more than 30 starts in 2018. Borucki, Pannone and Reid-Foley were rookies in 2018 and were not on the Opening Day roster. I expect Richard, Sanchez and Stroman to be on the Opening Day roster as starting pitchers, barring injury, but the other slots may be up for grabs.
I believe Toronto may be willing to add another starter in exchange for a low-level prospect, or if the trade partner was willing to eat some salary, as the Jays are taking a financial hit from the decision to release INF Troy Tulowitzki while still owing $38 million, as well as the deal sending C Russell Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with US$16.4 million in salary. Given Chatwood’s 2018 performance, it’s not unlikely that the Cubs would need to pay another franchise to take him on, and the Jays seem like a candidate disposed to accept a bribe. Toronto is still in rebuilding mode and would be a lower-pressure environment for Chatwood to attempt to work out his yips.
I am not very optimistic the Cubs will be able to unload Chatwood prior to Spring Training, but I will be rooting for some cross-border cooperation between my favorites and my hometown team.
Finally, here is a look at what Chatwood is capable of on a good day.