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Cubs still looking for more pitching after addition of Wade Miley

Team president Jed Hoyer said Tuesday that the Cubs would like to add different looks to their pitching staff, including power arms.

The Cubs hope adding Wade Miley is just the beginning of a revamp of the pitching staff.
The Cubs hope adding Wade Miley is just the beginning of a revamp of the pitching staff.
Gene J. Puskar/AP

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Cubs president Jed Hoyer has talked about being opportunistic when players you value become available.

Fittingly, the Cubs were able to address their top priority this winter with the addition of left-hander Wade Miley.

The Cubs picked up Miley’s one-year, $10 million option on Sunday, officially making him part of their 2022 rotation. Miley, 34, had a strong year for the Reds in 2021, going 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 28 starts.

“I think we try not to be surprised, but, yeah, I would say we were excited when he was on waivers,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “I guess the ‘benefit’ of being high up in the order is we knew we had a real shot at it. We had a lot of conversations for two days, did as much research as we could. We were excited to land him.”

Hoyer wasn’t reserved at the start of the offseason about the need to add arms as the Cubs ranked near the bottom of almost every major category as a staff last season. The addition of Miley is a strong start, but it won’t be the end.

“We talked about needing to add innings this winter,” Hoyer said. “The need to add quality starting pitching, quality pitching throughout, and to be able to do that in early November was exciting for us to start that process. It’s certainly not the end of that process; it was a great way to start up.”

Besides right-hander Kyle Hendricks, Miley now feels like a lock for next year’s starting staff. But with a desire to add more pitching via trade or free agency, the futures of Alec Mills, Keegan Thompson, Justin Steele and Adbert Alzolay are less clear.

Miley is a welcome addition to a rotation that was heavily right-handed until Steele’s arrival in the rotation. But his presence brings some redundancy as far as command/control pitchers.

While there’s always a need for pitchers who can attack the strike zone, balancing that with pitchers who can miss bats is also something the Cubs need more of.

“You love guys that know how to pitch and how to get outs,” Hoyer said. “But you’re also putting tremendous pressure on your defense and [need] a fair amount of luck, as well. I think that we have to get away from that. [We need to find]guys that can get good swings and misses. We’ve had a lot of very similar profiles the last few years.

“I do think we have to find some different looks, and some of that comes with some more power.”

Every team is looking for starting pitching in the winter, which makes it expensive.

While Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander won’t be walking through the door, Jon Gray, Anthony DeSclafani, Carlos Rodon and Kevin Gausman are available. Each had strikeout rates above 20% last season, and only Gausman has a qualifying offer attached to him.

If the Cubs signed a player with a qualifying offer, they would lose their second-highest selection in the ’22 draft and $500,000 from the international bonus pool for the upcoming signing period.

If they signed two players with rejected qualifying offers, they’d also lose their third-highest remaining pick and an additional $500,000.

“It’s certainly something we have to factor in,” Hoyer said.

“You just have to weigh it accordingly as you think through it. I wouldn’t go past that; it’s just something that is a calculus that we have to do if we’re gonna swim in those waters.”

Brown is on board

The Cubs officially hired Greg Brown as their hitting coach, the team announced Tuesday night. Brown is the club’s seventh hitting coach in 11 seasons. He replaces Anthony Iapoce, who departed after the Cubs hit .237 this year and finished with a 71-91 record.