As the days, weeks, and months of this 2018 MLB offseason continue to roll by, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta have yet to be signed. The remaining free agents are accusing MLB front offices of collusion, but could it simply be that teams aren’t sold on giving two 31+ year old pitchers with injury history over $100 million?

Unless Darvish and Arrieta’s asking prices are reduced significantly, what if the Cubs decide to stand pat and go with an in-house option? Prospects like Jen-Ho Tseng, Rob Zastryzny, and Alec Mills all seem to be MLB-ready or close to it. I’d be fine with the Cubs going into Spring Training with these three competing for one final rotation spot. This would also allow the Cubs to continue using lefty Mike Montgomery in the valuable swingman role. What case does each prospect have for being the 5th starter?

Jen-Ho Tseng

Tseng has had a very successful run in the Cubs minor league system over the last 4 years. He’s won the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year title twice, in 2014 and 2017. In 2017, he was dominant with a combined 2.54 ERA over 145+ innings at AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa. He had a rough outing in his lone start with the Cubs this past season, but then had a successful game in multiple innings out of the bullpen against the Cardinals. I’d like to see what he could do with a full season in the majors.

Rob Zastryzny

“Z” was impressive in his 2016 stint with the Cubs. He pitched to a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings out of the bullpen, with over 9.0 K/9 innings pitched. 2017 didn’t go quite as smoothly for Zastryzny. He battled several injuries and never got back to his 2016 form. Hopefully an offseason of rest will get him healthy enough to battle for a spot on the Cubs pitching staff.

Alec Mills

Mills came to the Cubs via a February 2017 trade which sent outfield prospect Donnie Dewees to the Kansas City Royals. Like Zastryzny, Mills struggled with injuries in 2017. However, he was very good in the innings he did pitch. He had a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings in the Cubs system. He also pitched in the title game of the Arizona Fall League recently. He has a few innings of MLB experience with the Royals in 2016, and at 26 years of age, he should be given an opportunity to prove himself at Spring Training in 2018.

May the best man win!


Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America



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