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Cubs free agent target: Jameson Taillon

Because why not?

Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Jameson Taillon was the Pirates’ first-round pick (second overall) in 2010 out of high school in Texas. (Context: Picked right after Bryce Harper and right before Manny Machado.)

For five straight years he was a Top 100 prospect, even after missing 2014 and 2015 with Tommy John surgery. He pitched well enough for the Pirates for four years (2016-19) before a second TJS took him out of most of 2019 and all of 2020.

The Pirates traded him to the Yankees before the 2021 season for Roansy Contreras, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Miguel Yajure and minor leaguer Maikol Escotto. That’s actually a pretty good haul for Pittsburgh and Contreras alone might become as good as Taillon was for them.

Anyway, Taillon put together a decent ‘21 season and then was quite good in 2022, posting a 3.91 ERA and 1.128 WHIP, though that all added up to only 1.3 bWAR (1.9 fWAR). Fangraphs says:

By using his four-seamer more, he’s completely changed his profile; ignore his numbers in Pittsburgh, because he was a completely different pitcher then.

That four-seamer and a new cutter augment what he’s always done well: spin the ball. His slider and curve are both excellent, and the slider is particularly nasty against opposing righties. Yankee Stadium’s cozy dimensions may even have been holding him back; he’s squarely a fly ball pitcher now, and opposing teams packed their lineup with lefties against him, a bad combination in the Bronx. Moving to a park with spacious dimensions would likely suit him well.

The note about “bad in the Bronx” appears to be backwards. Taillon posted better numbers in Yankee Stadium than on the road in both of his years in New York.

Nevertheless, at 31 and with familiarity with the NL Central, Taillon might be a useful signing for the Cubs. Fangraphs’ average of their own estimate and crowdsourcing has Taillon coming in at three years for about $39 million, and that seems reasonable for a pitcher of his abilities, age and experience.

If some of the other pitchers don’t work out for the North Siders, Taillon might be a good guy to bring on board for the Cubs at that price. I’d be inclined to do it.

Poll

Jameson Taillon...

  • 54%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed by Fangraphs
    (218 votes)
  • 9%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but it will take more in dollars or years or both
    (39 votes)
  • 33%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (135 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (7 votes)
399 votes total Vote Now