On Sunday, the Chicago Cubs exercised the 2022 team option on veteran starting pitcher Wade Miley, who was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 7, 2021
This option comes at a relatively competitive cost of US$10 million for a pitcher who had a 141 ERA+ in the 2021 season. It also adds another lefty to the Northside rotation. The current starting rotation for the Cubs listed on the MLB app consists of Kyle Hendricks (RHP), Alec Mills (RHP), Justin Steele (LHP) and Cory Abbott (RHP). Adbert Alzolay, who made 21 starts for the Cubs in 2021 but spent the end of the year in the bullpen, would also be under consideration to rejoin the rotation.
Miley also brings much-needed experience which would be of benefit to Steele and Abbott, who made their MLB debuts in 2021. Miley has averaged 192 innings and a 4.15 ERA (101 ERA+) over an 11-year MLB career. While he is on the older side and will be entering his age-35 season, he threw 163 innings over 28 starts in 2021. Miley was the fourth pitcher to throw a no-hitter last season, which came against the Cleveland franchise on May 7.
While this acquisition does not clearly signal whether the Cubs intend to be big spenders on the 2022 free agent market, it does show a commitment to bolstering a shaky starting rotation. Mills and Hendricks suffered the worst seasons of their MLB careers in 2021. Mills finished the year with a 84 ERA+ over a career-high 119 IP, while Hendricks allowed a MLB-worst 200 hits in 32 starts. His 89 ERA+ and 31 home runs allowed were the low-water marks of his eight seasons in MLB.
The decision to exercise Miley’s option was a given after the Cubs acquired him off waivers. It is also somewhat of a mystery why the Reds were not able to make a trade if they did not intend to pick up Miley’s option. Surely there would have been some interest in a solid lefty starter with a team-friendly option available. Cincinnati has little to show for its big moves in recent seasons, and Reds fans should be concerned about the front office’s intentions for the franchise.
The Cubs are currently scheduled to open the 2022 season against the Reds on Thursday, March 22. The home opener is set for April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Featured Image: Chicago Cubs logo at the team store on the Miracle Mile circa May 2018 by Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com.