The Cubs signed Shota Imanaga and Cardinals fans should not be worried

The Cardinals have leaned towards MLB-proven talent and are wise here to avoid the unproven.

World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan
World Baseball Classic Championship: United States v Japan / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Chicago Cubs and Japanese free agent Shota Imanaga have agreed to a deal, pending physical. The Cubs had been one of few teams to not sign anyone this offseason and have made their big splash with Imanaga. With many positions to fill on the current roster, the Cubs' first move is to potentially replace losing Marcus Stroman and tap into the Japan market to sign one of the most consistent arms coming from the NPB. With Seiya Suzuki on the current roster, that might have favored the Cubs in free-agent negotiations.

For Cardinals fans who are still upset over the moves to shore up innings by signing Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. And who are also upset they did not sign Yoshinubu Yamamoto to a decade-long contract worth nearly half a billion dollars. Missing out on Imanaga is a very smart decision on the newly advised front office of the Cardinals. Pitchers coming over from Japan have hard numbers to analyze and have scouts visiting them in person to see their talent level. But it will never equally translate to the Major League level.

In eight NPB seasons, Imanaga has a 64-50 record with a 3.18 ERA in 1002.2 innings pitched. His current adrenal tracked from 2023 WBC stat cast data displays a 94 MPH fastball, 84 MPH split/change, 82 MPH slider, and a 73 MPH curveball. This repertoire has worked in the NPB with the league lacking power threats where he can pitch to contact. The velocity will be comparable to a 4-5 starter in the MLB. What Imanaga will have to rely on is his spin rates to fool batters. With a 5-10 stature, he will have to be deceptive with his pitch mix to last throughout his starts.

To make matters worse, Imanaga is already 30 years old with a history that includes a season-ending shoulder surgery. He does not have the attractive factor of Yamamoto being age 26 with dominant stuff to offer. With everything provided, Imanaga has been speculated to sign for two years, $30 million with the potential to rise to $80 million over more years. With an AAV of $15 million, you are getting a very similar value as you would with Lynn or Gibson. But what those two pitchers have are only one-year deals with mitigate long-term commitment risks and also have proven success in MLB for a long period of time.

The Cardinals seem to be done making moves this off-season from the free-agent market. The organization acted early and set the market tone going forward. With many arms still available, we will continue to see overpayments for pitchers that are destined to be backfires. The Chicago Cubs have joined the party and will be regretting this signing in the next several seasons.

manual