Cubs' Drew Smyly declines option but discussing return

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LAS VEGAS — Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly declined his $10 million mutual option for 2023, as expected, but remains in contact with the club on a possible new deal to return.

The option was designed more as a way to add a back-end bonus ($1 million buyout) to his $4.25 million salary in 2022 than as an option either side expected to exercise (the player submits the first decision in the mutual-option process).

A 3.47 ERA in 22 starts and a repeatedly stated desire to stay with the club put the well liked veteran in play for discussions on a possible multiyear deal to return.

Despite averaging less than five innings per start, Smyly, 33, was a stabilizing force in the rotation, especially during a second half in which the Cubs’ rotation had the third best ERA in the majors, behind only Houston and the Dodgers.

He had two seven-inning starts and a six-inning scoreless start among his final six starts.

Indications are the talks on a new deal are in very early stages.

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