Chicago Cubs: Five Starting Pitchers They Should Target This Offseason
Five Starting Pitchers The Chicago Cubs Should Target This Winter
As big of a trainwreck as this Chicago Cubs currently is as a whole, there is not an area they need to address more than their starting pitching. Injury and the trade deadline saw what was a pretty solid staff completely depleted, and it’s in need of an overhaul this winter.
The Cubs roll into the winter with only two, potentially three, guaranteed locks in their starting five. Matt Garza, who probably won’t be traded, and Jeff Samardzija are the two locks. Travis Wood pitched very well for the better part of 2012 and would probably have to melt down in spring training to not have a spot. He’ll be in there.
That leaves two spots open for the 2013 Cubs’ rotation. The Cubs are expected to be active in the free agent market, and could seek out a starter or two via trade. The market for starting pitching isn’t stellar, but it features several pitchers that fit what the Cubs are looking for.
First off, we can eliminate the biggest name that will be on the market. Don’t expect Zack Greinke to make his Cubs debut next Opening Day. His mental makeup isn’t likely to do well in a market the size of Chicago, regardless of how low the expectations might be. Dan Haren is a possibility, but I think he’s more likely to sign with a contender rather than a rebuilding project like the Cubs.
Instead, look for them to go after guys more similar to that of Paul Maholm. Pitchers they can sign on the cheap and spin at the trade deadline for a greater value than they were in the offseason. They could also look to acquire a pitcher or two to make part of the long term plans.
Here are five names that the Cubs could potentially take a look at, or at least should, whether it’s through free agency or trade.
Like Dan Haren, Ervin Santana is likely to be non-tendered this winter and should hit the market as a free agent. We've seen two sides of Santana over his career. There's the guy with Cy Young caliber stuff, and then there's the other guy. This season has been more of that "other guy", with his ERA sitting over five at the end of the year. He's the type of guy who could fit the Cubs in more than one way. Either they like him and end up making him a part of the future, or they sign him to use as trade bait towards the trade deadline. The former could be more likely.
Behind Greinke, Shaun Marcum might be the best arm on the market. He's proven to be a very strong pitcher in his two years in the National League, provided he's healthy. He only made 21 starts and did struggle down the stretch in 2012, meaning he could be had for cheaper than initially thought. However, unlike Santana, he's not the type of guy who would figure to fit into the longer term plans. He'd be gone by August.
Rick Porcello is the only pitcher on this list who would absolutely have to be acquired via trade. But he's also a guy who would fit into the long term plans for the Cubs. The Detroit Tigers have been mentioned as a potential trade partner for the Cubs multiple times over the past couple of years. Porcello barely made it onto the postseason roster for the Tigers, and he wouldn't likely require a great deal to acquire. He's shown plenty of potential in his brief time in the bigs and could become a mainstay in the rotation in he panned out.
If anyone on this list would be signed for the specific purpose of trading them away at the trade deadline, it's Francisco Liriano. Or maybe not. Liriano has come a long way down since his Cy Young form back in 2006, struggling both with his health and his performance. A move to the National League could be just the ticket for him to revive his career. Though it would initially seem like he's guaranteed trade bait, he's still just 28. He could actually be a future part of this rotation if he's healthy and a move to the NL suits him as well as one might think.
The incredible struggles of Jair Jurrjens in 2012 might make him a perfect fit with the Chicago Cubs. He's struggled with his consistency and his health since the second half of last season, and as he's arbitration eligible this winter, he might be non-tendered. Of anyone on this list, I'd expect the Cubs to absolutely be in on Jurrjens 100 percent. He's a perfect buy low candidate for the front office. If he works out, he's a mainstay in this rotation. Slightly worse case, he proves inconsistent, but puts up solid numbers and is dealt to a contender next July.