With the De La Rosa’s, Vazquez’s, and Garland’s of the free agent starting pitcher market gone, and the Padilla’s of the market not on the Cubs’ radar, the remaining options generally fall into two categories: solid and expensive (think Cliff Lee or Carl Pavano), and cheap and risky.
The Chicago Cubs are falling, decidedly, into pursuit in the second category.
At this point, the North Siders are checking on former star pitchers who have had injury problems over the past few seasons: Former Diamondbacks Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, former Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis, former Mariners pitcher Erik Bedard and former Reds starter Aaron Harang are all on that list the Cubs are perusing.
The Cubs have had conversations with agents for most of the above pitchers, getting a ballpark sense of where these pitchers are physically and what sort of contracts they’re looking for.
Francis, a former Colorado ace, has had shoulder injuries the past few years, compiling a combined 8-16 record.
Webb has had continuous shoulder problems. The 2006 Cy Young winner hurt his shoulder on Opening Day, 2009, and has not pitched a major-league game since then. Webb was a Cy Young Award runner-up in ’07 and ’08. In early November 2010, he threw some innings in the Arizona Instructional League, testing his arm.
Bedard, whom the Cubs almost traded four players for when he was the Orioles ace, has been on the DL every year of his career. He also had arm problems last season that precluded him from pitching in the majors.
Harang, the former Reds ace was 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 20 starts in 2010 before injuries took their toll on the 35-year-old pitcher. He made $12.75 million in 2010.
The Cubs have $108 million committed to just nine players at this point. Six players are eligible for arbitration, and they will make between $10 million and $12 million. That brings the payroll up to $120 million committed to just 15 players.
Somehow, Hendry will have to find money to pay the other 10 players on the 25-man roster.
Bottom feeders are two words to describe the Cubs in this offseason as they approach the Winter Meetings on Dec. 6. ESPN Chicago.
A bit grim.
But, at the same time, should the Cubs really have been considering allocating resources to the rotation anyway? With five starting pitchers already under contract (Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, Silva), and several other internal options (Marshall, Cashner, Archer, Coleman, Jackson, etc.), maybe going high-risk, high-reward on a low cost option was always the right way to go.