Cubs' new pitcher Taillon talks joining team, 2023 goals

December 19th, 2022

CHICAGO -- As the Cubs were recruiting Jameson Taillon in free agency, the ballclub sent Craig Breslow, the team's vice president of pitching and an assistant general manager, to New York to sit down with the pitcher in person.

Taillon expected maybe a half-hour discussion, but his conversation with Breslow -- covering the Cubs' plans for 2023 and beyond, their pitching infrastructure and philosophies and Chicago's vision for the pitcher -- carried on for roughly two hours.

"We [were] kind of nerding out on pitching there," Taillon said via Zoom on Monday. "And we just kept going and going. That stood out to me -- just how easy it felt. Everyone I talked to, it just felt easy. It felt right."

On Monday, the Cubs and Taillon officially announced their four-year deal, which was agreed upon during the Winter Meetings and is worth $68 million, per sources. Taillon projects to join Marcus Stroman at the top of a rotation that was one of baseball's best groups in the second half last season.

Here are a few highlights from Taillon's 25-minute chat with reporters on Monday afternoon.

On his view of the Cubs for the upcoming season

JT: "From the pitching side, there's a lot to be excited about. I think they saw some steps forward from a lot of different guys. I'm impressed with a lot of the arms. We have a nice mix of some established guys who have done it for a while, and we have got some younger guys that are trying to establish themselves in the league. So just some exciting things there.

"And then from the defensive side, I think they've got some guys that can definitely play solid defense. And obviously with [Cody] Bellinger and Dansby [Swanson] coming on board, it seems like they're going take a big step forward there even defensively. And with the limit on shifts and stuff, I think that's really important. So, that excited me. And I've heard really, really great things about working with Yan Gomes from the catching side."

On the reported signing of Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million deal

JT: "He's a really good player. He had a great season. From everything I've heard -- off the field, in the clubhouse, in the locker room -- he's going to make people better. I've heard he holds people accountable. I've heard he really wants to win. I don't think he would have picked Chicago or gone to Chicago if he wasn't convinced that we could build a winner and get back to that level. So really excited to see what he's all about."

On his pitch-arsenal goals for 2023

JT: "If I could find a way to kind of bag up like my best version of my slider and my best version of my cutter -- like, how can we limit the variability in those pitches? How can we just make my slider the best pitch every single time and not have the shape kind of change from outing to outing? That's something that I'm really interested in hammering down. But I think just early on, I'll probably look to throw the curveball a little more, the cutter a little bit more and then just really lock in the shapes."

On pitching at Wrigley Field

JT: "One of my first road trips was to Chicago when I was with Pittsburgh [in 2016], and I think it was a Friday day game with [Jake] Arrieta on the mound when he was untouchable. And I remember just like taking a step back and feeling the environment. There's nothing better than a day game at Wrigley in the summer. I remember thinking at the time, like, 'This is the big leagues right here. This is the show.' So to have an opportunity to call that my own field and my home fans and stuff is super exciting."

On the Cubs' recruiting efforts

JT: "Every team has a little bit different of a pitch. And for the Cubs, it was definitely genuine. They sent me custom videos that no other team sent me, kind of selling me on the Wrigley experience and the history and the city and the fans. That stood out to me. I loved the videos so much I was watching them like every day there at the beginning for a couple of weeks. So that kind of kept it fresh in my mind."