Shota Imanaga

MLB Insider Jon Heyman calls Shōta Imanaga ‘arguably the best free agent signing' last offseason

Last offseason's free agent class was elite, too

Share
NBC Universal, Inc.

Shōta Imanaga has exceeded expectations, and then some, for the Cubs in his rookie season.

Currently, through nine starts, he holds a blistering 0.84 ERA, along with 58 strikeouts and just nine walks. He also has an undefeated 5-0 pitching record through 53.2 innings this season on the bump.

MLB insider Jon Heyman argued that Imanaga could be dubbed the best free agent signing of last offseason.

"Imanaga's been terrific. Arguably the best free agent signing of the offseason," Heyman said on a Bleacher Report live stream. "Certainly [Juan] Soto's up there, Shōta Imanaga's up there, Shohei Ohtani's up there. Bang for the buck, you cannot beat Imanga for four years, $53 million and they can extend it."

Remember, last offseason's free agent class was loaded. Highlighted by Ohtani's $700 million deal with the Dodgers, also included were Dodgers' Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Padres' Blake Snell, Padres' Jung Hoo Lee, Dodgers' Tyler Glasnow, Yankees' Marcus Stroman and a heckuva lot more.

Granting the Cubs' front office league winners for best offseason free agent signing is no joke. But, as it stands thus far, they got Imanaga on a steal. As Heyman said, they'll undoubtedly extend his contract to a fifth year if he keeps up this pace. But either way, his four-year deal at $53 million is chump change for the way he's pitching.

Heyman compared Imanaga's impeccable start to one of the greatest in MLB history.

"Fernando [Valenzuela] is a good comp(arison)," Heyman said. "Now, I was around for that. In his first nine outings, he might've had a slightly higher ERA than Imanaga but it was even more incredible. That was an era where they were going complete games."

MORE: Shōta Imanaga makes MLB history again after a stellar start against the Pirates

On that note, after a seven-inning, scoreless outing against the Pirates, Imanaga made MLB history by lowering his ERA to 0.84 --- the lowest ERA through nine career starts in MLB history.

Imanaga has been setting new marks in every which way during his early start to the season. Even through three starts, he became the first Cubs pitcher in 115 years to have a perfect ERA.

Currently, he has the best ERA in MLB, along with the seventh-best WHIP (0.91), the 15th-most strikeouts (58), and the 14th-best opponent batting average (.200).

But, surprisingly, Imanaga showed little interest in the numbers.

"If I'm being honest, I'm not really interested in my own stats like that, or any historic value," he said through the team's translator. "But, just knowing that there are so many good pitchers who came before me and the fact that in the past there are plenty of guys who are able to do that, is a good learning experience."

<p><a href="https://link.chtbl.com/CubsTalk"><em><strong>Click here to follow the Cubs Talk Podcast.</strong></em></a></p>

<iframe src="https://art19.com/shows/cubs-talk-podcast/embed?playlist_type=latest" style="width: 100%; height: 200px; border: 0 none;" scrolling="no"></iframe>

Contact Us