Cubs will have to add two or three starters just to field competitive team in 2013
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com October 6, 2012 4:33PM
Detroit Tigers pitcher Anibal Sanchez pitches in a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The Cubs say they expect to pursue free-agent starting pitching this winter, but how deep will they venture to build a strong staff (that already includes Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza)? An early list of
possible free agents:
Age* 2012 ’12 salary
RHP Shaun Marcum, Brewers 31 7-4, 3.70 ERA $7.73M
RHP Anibal Sanchez, Tigers 29 9-13, 3.86 ERA $8M
RHP Edwin Jackson, Nationals 29 10-11, 4.03 ERA $11M
RHP Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays 29 7-7, 4.16 ERA $2.28M
RHP Brandon McCarthy, A’s 29 8-6, 3.24 ERA $4.28M
RHP Jeremy Guthrie, Royals 33 8-12, 4.76 ERA $8.2M
RHP Zack Greinke, Angels 29 15-5, 3.48 ERA $13.5M
RHP Kyle Lohse, Cardinals 34 16-3, 2.86 ERA $11.875M
RHP Ryan Dempster, Rangers 35 12-8, 3.38 ERA $14M
RHP Brett Myers, White Sox 32 3-8, 3.31 ERA $11M**
RHP Gavin Floyd, White Sox 30 12-11, 4.29 ERA $7M**
RHP Ervin Santana, Angels 30 9-13, 5.16 ERA $11.2M**
RHP Dan Haren, Angels 32 12-13, 4.33 ERA $12.75M**
RHP Jake Peavy, White Sox 31 11-12, 3.37 ERA $17M**
* — On Opening Day. **High-priced team options for 2013 (Myers, $10M; Floyd, $9.5M; Santana, $13M; Haren, $13.5M; Peavy, $22M).
Note: Myers made 70 appearances, all in relief, this season but made 33 starts in 2011 and is expected to seek a starting opportunity.
Updated: November 8, 2012 12:10PM
One season and 101 losses after
Theo Epstein took over as the Cubs’ president, there remains no more certain a timetable for when this overmatched, rebuilding team will be able to contend.
But if the Cubs plan to recover enough to take on the look of a major-league team again by next season — and if the front-office plans to give the established holdovers and the field staff a chance to be competitive — it means diving into a part of offseason business Epstein ideally would like to skip.
Merely to put a representative team on the field, the Cubs will have to acquire at least two starting pitchers and probably three from outside the organization. That means working through a free-agent market slim on All-Star talent but with enough middle-rotation veterans to offer the Cubs a chance to use their significant payroll flexibility to put together a competitive staff.
The issue is less whether they will be able to do it than whether they will be willing to do it.
‘‘There are going to be a lot of teams looking at a pretty limited field,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘I don’t think there’s going to be great value to be had out there. But I think there’s some quality, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us sign a free agent or two for our rotation.’’
Epstein said this during a nearly 40-minute media conference in which he also stressed ‘‘patience’’ for the fans, offered no guesses on a timeline for being competitive again and continued to express a long-held disdain for using free agency at all.
That said, ‘‘If there’s the right player at the right contract, even at a significant length, if we believe in that player and we believe it’s a good investment, we won’t shy away from it,’’ he said.
This winter might be a good test of that. Last offseason, facing steep pitching deficits on the roster, the Cubs signed left-hander Paul
Maholm to a modest, short-term deal and added left-hander Travis Wood in a baseball-value trade and right-hander Chris Volstad in a Carlos Zambrano-dump trade.
With right-hander Matt Garza expected back healthy and right-hander Jeff Samardzija having established himself as a potential front-line starter, getting two
middle-rotation pitchers might put the Cubs in position to at least have a fighting chance at a decent start.
And several players who figure to be on the 2013 roster have pointed to the midseason roster tear-down, during which Maholm was ‘‘flipped’’ for prospects, as acute motivation for a fast start in April and May.
Two former Cy Young Award winners, right-handers Jake Peavy and Zack Greinke, are among the potential free agents, but neither is on the Cubs’ radar, nor should they be. Peavy has a track record of injuries and figures to command an overvalued price/length of contract coming off his 219-
inning season with the White Sox. And Greinke not only is a strong candidate to re-sign with the Los Angeles Angels, but the Cubs don’t consider a pitcher with a history of social-anxiety issues a good fit for the Chicago market.
More along the Cubs’ lines is right-hander Shaun Marcum, a
solid middle-rotation pitcher who has a relationship with pitching coach Chris Bosio and might come at a relative bargain after some
injury issues in 2012.
Right-hander Anibal Sanchez, a former fast-rising prospect the Miami Marlins traded to the
Detroit Tigers this season, is another possible fit, along with the Washington Nationals’ Edwin Jackson, a pitcher with high-end ability who might be had for a shorter-term deal, depending on how the market develops.
Landing two pitchers of that caliber might help nurture at least some of the patience Epstein keeps saying fans need to have.