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Cubs free-agent target: Julio Teheran

The former Braves righthander could be helpful, and at a reasonable price.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Teheran was once a Top 10 prospect while in the Atlanta Braves system, back in 2011 and 2012.

He’s a two-time All-Star and posted seasons of 4+ bWAR in both those years.

So why is the action on him in free agency mostly dead? Even while some of his better-known pitching contemporaries have signed big-money contracts, Teheran has been on the sidelines.

Teheran has had a couple of short stints on injured lists with a lat strain in 2016 and a right thumb contusion in 2018. Neither of these would seem to be serious.

Maybe it’s his lack of velocity in this age where so many pitchers can throw 95+. Per Statcast, Teheran’s four-seamer averages just under 90 miles per hour, and he throws it more than any of his other pitches. He also relies heavily on a sinker and slider.

After pitching with a very good walk rate through 2017 (2.6 per nine innings), that BB rate jumped to 4.3 per nine over the last two seasons, and he led the National League in hit batters in 2019 with 14. This suggests command and control issues. Those can be fixed, presumably, since he was better at them previously.

MLB Trade Rumors projected a two-year, $18 million deal for Teheran. That’s not unreasonable for a player of his talent. The Cubs could afford that, too, and still stay under the third level of luxury tax. Or, as the offseason continues, perhaps a two-year deal for a bit less money could be offered — maybe two years, $16 million with a third-year team option and a $2 million buyout, which would be the same amount of guaranteed money.

Teheran turns 29 in January. If the Cubs signed him, he would become the youngest pitcher in their rotation (Kyle Hendricks, currently the youngest, turned 30 a couple of weeks ago). Even if Teheran would simply be an inning-eating fifth starter, that sounds better than the internal options (Alec Mills or Tyler Chatwood). He’s durable, having made at least 30 starts for seven straight seasons.

I think this would be worth doing.


Should the Cubs sign Julio Teheran?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Two-year, $18 million deal... sounds good!
    (568 votes)
  • 28%
    Too much money, pass
    (257 votes)
  • 9%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (82 votes)
907 votes total Vote Now