Cubs remain in talks with free agent RHP Tyson Ross
The front office has been trying to add RHP Tyson Ross to the roster for well over 18 months. The Cubs attempted to pry him away from the Padres but could not put together a package for Ross to satisfy A.J. Preller. When Preller decided not to offer Ross a contract last week, he became a free agent and was immediately linked to the Cubs.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have stated on multiple occasions this off-season that the Cubs would like to acquire as much pitching as possible. The front office realizes the Cubs lack the pitching depth, both in the rotation and bullpen, necessary to keep a couple of injuries from derailing their title defense next season.
Epstein and Hoyer addressed the bullpen over the last seven days by signing LHP Brian Duensing, agreeing to terms with RHP Koji Uehara, acquiring LHP Caleb Smith and trading for RHP Wade Davis. And the front office is expected to add more depth to give Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio as many options as possible when Spring Training begins.
The Cubs have not acquired the starting pitching yet that will likely be needed to win the division and make a third straight trip to the playoffs. And that is where Tyson Ross could come in.
Patrick Mooney reported that Ross could be “one of the final pieces of the off-season puzzle.” The Cubs were in talks with Tyson Ross during the Winter Meetings and the front office is still engaged with him. The Cubs are “monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.”
Ross is recovering from surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome and is expected to be ready sometime between February and April. Ross has resumed baseball activities and is working his way back to the mound.
Ross made only one start last season and that was on Opening Day against the Dodgers. Ross spent the year on the DL with what was thought to be a shoulder injury before undergoing surgery in October.
In 2014, Ross was 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 3.24 FIP. Now two seasons ago, Ross posted a 10-12 record in 33 starts with a 3.26 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 2.98 FIP. Ross allowed 78 runs, 71 earned, on 172 hits with 84 walks and 212 strikeouts in 196 innings. In 2015, Ross set career-highs in strikeouts (212), innings (196), walks (84), hits allowed (172) and starts (33).
The Pirates, Rangers and Padres are also interested in Ross. It is unclear at this time if he is looking for a multi-year contract or a one-year deal. A team signing Ross should insist on a one-year contract that includes a club option for 2018 with lots of incentives.
According to the report from Comcast SportsNet, due to the lack of starting pitching available this winter there “could be sticker shock” when signing Ross. The Cubs are looking to “get a better sense of the medical picture and the price” it would take to sign him.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that he heard Ross was asking for a contract in the $9-11 million range and may not be looking for a deal with incentives. If Grant’s information is correct, it sounds like Ross would like a one-year contract that would allow him to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Tyson Ross turns 30 on April 22.
In order for Ross to be ready to join a rotation on Opening Day he would have to have no setbacks in his recovery and rehab. In all likelihood, a team like the Cubs could give him the time he needs to recover properly without the pressure to be ready when the season starts. In turn Ross could give the Cubs a sixth starter at the point of the season in which Maddon and Bosio might be looking to use a six-man rotation.