The Cubs played an extra five weeks in 2016, and given the strength of the team in 2017 and the distinct possibility that it will play in October again this year, Joe Maddon undoubtedly will look for opportunities to conserve innings among his starters. Jake Arrieta has thrown 468 1/3 innings over the last two seasons; John Lackey had shoulder trouble in the second half of last season; Jon Lester has averaged more than 200 innings a year for nine straight seasons; and Kyle Hendricks is coming off a year in which he threw 215 1/3 innings (regular season and postseason combined), a career high.
The Cubs intend to use Mike Montgomery as the No. 5 starter, but his 100 innings during the 2016 regular season were the most he's thrown in a big-league season, so there will be room and need for depth. The oft-injured Anderson could fill at least some of that need, in a deal that’s potentially low-risk and high-reward. The lefty is guaranteed just $3.5 million and, if he's healthy, he'll make some incentives. If he's healthy, his history suggests that he could be pretty good. Anderson turns 29 next week.