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MLB Chicago Cubs

5 Pitchers The Chicago Cubs Can Target After Missing Out On Masahiro Tanaka

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5 Pitchers That The Chicago Cubs Could Target

Chicago Cubs
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

With Masahiro Tanaka signing a seven-year, $155 million deal with the New York Yankees, the Chicago Cubs missed out on their top target of the offseason.

Tanaka was a big name in the free agent world this season after he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 212 innings last year in Japan. If he had signed with the Cubs, he would have been the ace of the pitching staff. Now, the Cubs will be forced to go to their backup plan.

The first move for the Cubs should be to keep Jeff Samardzjia. The Cubs were looking to trade the starter this offseason, but after missing out on Tanaka, they cannot afford to lose Samardzjia. Samardzjia

The second step would be to sign another pitcher. The Cubs are in desperate need of another starter. Besides Samardzjia, they only have two reliable starters in Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood. Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. Jake Arrieta figures to be the fourth starter. He went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts after being traded to the Cubs by the Baltimore Orioles. Another option is Justin Grimm, a top prospect in the Cubs organization who could get a shot at the fifth starter spot. Grimm could be a logical candidate for the Cubs, as the team may look to save money for next offseason's free agent class, but it would be wise for them to sign another arm.

With pitchers and catchers set to report in less than a month, the pool of free agent pitchers available for the Cubs is small, but here are some possible fits. The Cubs will need to act fast and secure a fifth starter before it is too late.

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5. Jeff Niemann

Jeff Niemann
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Jeff Niemann missed last season and part of the 2012 season with injuries, but he could be a possible fit for the Chicago Cubs.

Niemann would provide a low cost, high reward pitcher that would be willing to take a one-year deal to prove that he can still produce. A one year contract pitcher is appealing for the Cubs, because it wouldn't require them to guarantee money past this season and would free up money for next year's free agency. Niemann also provides a pitcher with a lot of upside. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2009 with a 13-6 record with a 3.94 ERA; he followed that with consecutive 10 win seasons.

If healthy, Niemann could provide the Cubs with a solid fifth starter.

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4. Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel
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Jason Hammel could be a fit and would fit in the price range for the Chicago Cubs.

He would provide the Cubs with a quality arm at a price below the top tier starters. Hammel has a pair of 10 win season in 2009 and 2010 and went 8-6 with a career low 3.43 ERA in 2012. His numbers jumped last season, but the Cubs could look to sign him based on his 2012 season, which would be great numbers for a fifth starter.

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3. Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing Paul Maholm back to the Chicago Cubs organization is another possibility.

Maholm went 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in Chicago in 2012 before being traded to the Atlanta Braves. Last season, Maholm went 10-11 in Atlanta with a 4.41 ERA. He would provide the Cubs with a solid pitcher who could fill a middle of the rotation type role.

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2. Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo
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Bronson Arroyo would be a quality addition for the Chicago Cubs.

After struggling in the first part of his career, Arroyo developed into a quality starter. He has won at least 10 games in eight of the last 10 seasons. In four of the last five seasons, Arroyo has won at least 12 games and had a ERA under four. Signing Arroyo would give the Cubs another reliable starter in the rotation.

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1. Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ervin Santana is looking for a large contract, but if the demand for Santana drops, the Chicago Cubs could look at him.

The Cubs aren't looking to spend a lot of money on a starter that isn't a top notch pitcher, but Santana could have to settle on a lesser contract and the Cubs could fit then. Santana posted a solid season last year, going 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and has posted some even better numbers in the past. At age 30, he is still in the prime of his career and could be a great fit for the Cubs.