Chicago Cubs Sign Tyler Chatwood From The Colorado Rockies

Tyler Chatwood(Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

By Doug Preszler

The Chicago Cubs made their first major free agent signing today. Right handed starter Tyler Chatwood from Colorado has agreed to a 3 year/$38 million dollar contract.

Tyler Chatwood was drafted in the 2nd round of the Major League amateur draft in 2008 by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He made his major league debut on April 11, 2011 starting against the Cleveland Indians. He earned his first major league win in his 2nd start against the Chicago White Sox. He made a total of 25 starts in his rookie season.

In November of 2011 the Angels dealt Chatwood to the Colorado Rockies for catcher Chris Ianetta.

He started the 2012 season in the Rockies bullpen. He appeared 4 times and recorded 1 save. He went on to join the rotation in August and made 12 starts. He finished the year with a 5.43 ERA.

In 2013 Chatwood missed half of the season but still had his most effective year. He posted a 8–5 record with a 3.15 ERA while inducing a 50% ground ball rate.

4 games into the 2014 season Chatwood tore his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2014 and all of 2015.

He made his return to the Rockies rotation in 2016 and started 27 games. He put together a season that saw him post a 3.87 ERA and induced an above 50% ground ball rate. He struggled at Coors Field with a 6.08 ERA in 78 innings. On the road he threw 80 innings and put together an elite 1.69 ERA. His record was 8–1 away from Denver.

He avoided arbitration and signed a 4.4 million dollar, one year contract for 2017.

He started the season in the rotation and made 25 starts overall. He moved to the bullpen in August and made 8 appearances out of the pen. He moved back to the rotation in September. He finished the year 8–12 with a 4.69 ERA.

One of the upsides of Chatwood’s pitch arsenal is his elite spin rate. In the 2017 season 229 pitchers threw 100 curve balls. Chatwood’s spin rate was 2,980 RPM. This was the fifth highest in baseball and well above the league average of 2,489 RPM. If he throws the curve correctly and can lower his walk rate he could potentially be a steal for Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs.

The first thing he needs to correct is his third highest walk total in the national league last year. Hopefully an offseason with Jim Hickey and a chance to have Kyle Hendricks teach him how to manage a game with his pitch selection and controlling hitters with that plus ground ball rate and plus curve spin rate can turn him around. He will certainly benefit from the elite infield defense that the Cubs sport.

Throwing a curve is all about feel and the injuries Chatwood has experienced most certainly effected his control. If he can find that feel consistently and with the benefit of not being in Denver and the Coors launching pad all of the time, Chatwood has nice upside as a 27 year old starter.

With three months until spring training Jim Hickey has time to start working with the 27 year old righty and hopefully solve some of the bugs that have elevated his walk rate. With the elite spin rates, a high percentage of ground balls, and a 94 mph fastball, Chatwood could be a diamond in the rough.

Doug Preszler is the type of person who can be a Cubs fan and an Iowa fan while living in South Dakota. He is a man who cares not for regional loyalty. He can be found on Twitter here, telling tales of the Dakotan Cubs fan’s existence.