Here’s Bruce Levine with a near-Captain Obvious statement:
Cubs working the free agent pitching list for at least one more stater.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 28, 2014
I assume he means a “starter” because Bruce isn’t known for proofreading his tweets. If we assume that Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson are heading up the rotation, with Jake Arrieta likely being the #4 starter, that’s four spots taken care of. There are a number of in-house options for the fifth spot including swingman Carlos Villanueva and Quad-A dudes Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin. In an ideal world we might even hope that Kyle Hendricks is ready for the big time, but we don’t live in an ideal world (we’re Cubs fans). That means the Cubs probably get that fifth starter, not necessarily as the #5 starter but as a guy that slots in front or behind Edwin Jackson and pushes Arrieta to the #5 spot.
Dabynsky has addressed the possible acquisition of a guy like Ervin Santana. You can read the full article here, but the gist is that even with the draft pick compensation, Santana can eat up 200+ innings at a relatively inexpensive pricetag and that could be worth far more than the slot money tied in to the second round pick the Cubs would surrender.
Matt Garza just got signed by the Brewers so that’s not an option. We could potentially use Garza’s deal as a comparable for whatever deal Ervin Santana (or Ubaldo Jimenez for that matter, though I would try to avoid Ubaldo since he’s not as durable) would get. Check out the 2014 free agent list and you see some interesting names. These names include the Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, who just got cleared to sign with MLB teams and is just 27 years of age (young, but past the age restrictions for international signings). Suk-Min Yoon also is listed, but Dabynsky thinks he is more likely to be a reliever than a starter at MLB.
I would probably place some bets on the Cubs going after Bronson Arroyo (innings eater even if he’s sort of meh), Jason Hammel or Paul Maholm again. There are a number of other names that could be non-roster invitees, including former Cy Young winner Johan Santana assuming the Twins don’t sign him first. I’m interested to see what ideas Cubs fans have for filling out the rotation given the slim pickings left.