The Chicago Cubs need to get active in free agency, and they have been linked to Japanese left-handed pitcher Shota Imanaga. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Cubs are among the teams interested in signing Imanaga.

The Cubs have been linked to pitchers Tyler Glasnow, Shane Bieber, and, very briefly, Shohei Ohtani. Chicago has a major need to fill on the mound, and they are definitely trying to fill it. However, nothing has happened yet, and fans are eager to see the moves they make. With this linkage to Imanaga, the Cubs could definitely get a top or middle-of-the-rotation arm.

Shota Imanaga’s Career in Japan

Imanaga was very good in Japan. He made his debut in 2016 and quickly became one of the better pitchers in the NPB. Imanaga is 64-50 in Japan with over 1,000 career innings pitched, 13 complete games, and seven shutouts. Besides a tough 2018 season, Imanaga has had a lot of success. He has had an ERA under 3.00 in five of the eight seasons and just one season with an ERA over 3.23 (2018).

One significant aspect of Imanaga that makes him attractive to MLB teams is his command of the strike zone. In his career in Japan, Imanaga has just 280 walks to go with 1,021 strikeouts. That gives him a K/BB ratio of 3.65/1. Imanaga can control the zone and limit baserunners. That is what he has shown in Japan, at least.

Shota Imanaga Fills a Need For the Cubs

Imanaga, 30, has pitched against big league competition before. He was the starting pitcher in the Gold Medal game of the World Baseball Classic, and he earned the win. In that game, Imanaga threw two innings and struck out two, but he did allow Justin Turner to hit a home run off him. Nonetheless, Imanaga showed MLB clubs he was ready to take his talents to the United States, and he could have a massive impact on any team he signs with.

The Cubs lost Marcus Stroman to free agency, so Justin Steele is the only true ace on the staff. Chicago does have a few young guys in Jordan Wicks and Hayden Wesneski, but it is always challenging to predict how they will do throughout a big-league season. Imanaga will provide the Cubs with experience and comfort in knowing he will compete every time he takes the mound. With how the Cubs rotation looks, Imanaga would likely slide into the second or third slot.

Imanaga would only cost the Cubs a portion of the money. According to the tweet above, Imanaga would only be around $20 million in AAV. For a second or third starter, that is a good number. Imanaga is also 30-years-old. He would demand a smaller contract than some of the younger pitchers. The Cubs could sign him to a short three or four-year deal. With how Imanaga has performed in Japan, the Cubs would add a much-needed arm to their starting rotation.

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