To this point into their brief offseason, the talk surrounding the Chicago Cubs and their pursuit of starting pitching has focused on the middle-of-the-road types. Names like Shaun Marcum or Francisco Liriano have popped up, but nobody who really jumps out as a difference maker.
While those two could very likely be targets of the Cubs this winter, there could be a big name or two on their radar. One of those names is Miami Marlins starter Josh Johnson.
The Cubs aren’t looking to add much salary, but they have a ton coming off the books this winter. That number could increase if they’re able to unload Alfonso Soriano. That would open up the door for a potentially big move, such as an acquisition of the two-time All Star.
The Marlins shopped Johnson around at the trade deadline, but were unable to find the return they wanted for him. His name will likely once again emerge out on the trade market. The usual suspects will be in on him, mainly contenders, but the Cubs could also be a potential destination.
With the Marlins looking to dump payroll, which was predicted by many after their surprising spending spree last winter, the Cubs could be a beneficiary. Adding Johnson would give them a true ace in the rotation, but they’d also have the ability to shop him around at the deadline if they’re unable to lock him up to a long term contract.
Though he’s struggled with injury the past couple of years, Johnson has gone through stretches where he’s among the game’s most dominant hurlers. He posted a 3.81 ERA and 165 punch outs last season. His best year came in 2010, when he came in at a 2.30 ERA and struck out over 190.
The fact that the Cubs could be willing to take on the remainder of the nearly $14 million left on Johnson’s contract could help them to avoid unloading the few top prospects that the organization has. But even with that in mind, would the Cubs have the pieces to pull off such a deal?
Regardless of whether or not they can swing a deal to acquire an arm like Josh Johnson, they will certainly be in on him. That, by itself, is reason enough to have some sort of excitement prior to another lowly season in 2013.