The Chicago Cubs need to add another arm to the rotation and after losing out on Masahiro Tanaka, the free agent market doesn’t appear to be as crowded as it was a few weeks ago.
Matt Garza signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and as things stand right now, the top pitchers available appear to be Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. While the front office led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have shown an inclination to pursue lesser players (like Scott Feldman last season) and there are rumors that guys like Chris Capuano or Paul Maholm could be targeted this year, the Cubs could also be in line to pursue another top arm.
Jeff Samardzija is the only proven starter in the rotation and while Travis Wood was an All-Star last year, he is expected to regress this season. Edwin Jackson needs to bounce back after 2013 and Jake Arrieta is more of a wild card, so while adding another veteran like Maholm or Jason Hammel could be a good addition, the Cubs would be in a better position if they choose to go after Santana or Jimenez.
The front office has shown the willing to spend when necessary if a player fits their mold. The Cubs already were heavy in the pursuit of Anibal Sanchez, Tanaka and Yu Darvish among others, and they could easily make a run at Santana. That said, the fact that the contract that could surpass the $100 million range and that a draft pick would be lost could force Chicago to look into other options.
As things stand right now, Santana would definitively improve the rotation, but adding him might not be the best move for the long-term health of the franchise. Losing a draft pick and making a huge commitment isn’t really the Cubs’ MO, and they are unlikely to change their approach with Spring Training being less than a month away.