The relatively undisputed top free agent arm on the market this year is Texas Rangers’ starter CJ Wilson, who, at age 30, dominated the AL this year to the tune of a 2.94 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, and 206 Ks in 223.1 innings. The Chicago Cubs have a fairly obvious need in the rotation, but, to date, hadn’t really been connected in rumors to Wilson outside of a cursory meeting with his agent a couple weeks ago (i.e., back when Wilson’s agent met with as many as a dozen teams).

Until now.

The Fox Sports duo of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reports that the Cubs have spoken to Wilson’s agent, and have sought to “gauge the market” on Wilson. Rosenthal further reported on MLBN that the Cubs are “a new entrant” into the Wilson sweepstakes, and are interested.

Wilson, now 31, has been discussed here before, and is in line for a serious payday given the week starting pitching market this year. Indeed, multiple reports say he’s already received a six-year offer, presumably approaching $100 million. For a guy who’s had only two seasons as a starter – only one of which was ace-level – that’s a pretty steep commitment.

Still, Wilson was long a great reliever before becoming a starter, and, by virtue of his time in the pen, has significantly less tread on the tire than your average 31-year-old starting pitcher.

For me, with Wilson, it all comes down to the contract (I know, when isn’t that the case?). At five years and $75 million, he’s clearly someone the Cubs should pursue as neither a short-term quick fix, nor a long-term payroll burden.

But at six years and $100 million? The upside is suddenly diminished, and the risk becomes too much to take. I’d bet a shiny nickel that the Cubs aren’t the team who’s offered him six years already.

The Cubs’ offseason plans remain quite the mystery – adding a pitcher like Wilson suddenly makes the “go for it in 2012” case that much more strong, and makes the possibility of trading guys like Matt Garza and Geovany Soto remote.


  • Ashley

    Very torn on C.J. Wilson, before the postseason I really liked him but after watching him pitch this postseason I don’t know if I want him. He doesn’t seem to be as solid a pitcher for the money and years he wants. I mean the Cubs need another pitcher but I feel they could get another pitcher cheaper!

  • SirCub

    I think the only reason you wouldn’t consider his 2010 season “ace-level” is because he was on the same team as Cliff Lee. 134 ERA+ and 4.4 WAR is good enough to be ace on my team any day.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re not totally off-base – he was 9th in the AL in ERA+ in 2010 – it comes down to the meaning of “ace,” which is, I’ll confess, an overused word. He was damn good in 2010, and it was only by comparison to 2011 that he looked less than an ace. Because he was silly good in 2011.

      • SirCub

        True, I tend to use the term simply to mean the best pitcher on the staff. But by that measuring stick Wandy Rodriguez would be “ace-level” and Cole Hamels a “decent-back-of-the-rotation” guy?

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    Wilson and Garza atop the order would likely make the Cubs a Wild Card contender no matter who is on first.

    I think dealing Soto and Marmol could still be in the cards, even if they do aggressively go after Wilson. Both are replaceable within the organization.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I left Marmol out because, yeah, I think he’s very much tradable no matter what happens elsewhere on the team. Soto is in a similar boat, though less obviously replaceable (that is to say, I have less confidence that Castillo/Clevenger can fill Soto’s shoes than I have that Marshall/Wood/Cashner/Samardzija/Carpenter/whomever can fill Marmol’s shoes).

    • Lou

      Not without anyone in the middle of that batting order. I think Theo is just gauging interest–that’s all.

    • CubFan Paul

      the Padres want LHP james russell for headley?! ..toss in another pitching prospect & we have a new 3B (according to Levine)

      john gaub should break camp w/ tbe big league team so russell can go

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        How good of a pitching prospect?

        Russell had a good year as a reliever, so this might be a case of sell high. If Gaub falters, Scott Maine should be ready to step in. On the lefty starter side, I think Chris Rusin is about ready for his debut, and I think he’ll do just fine in a 4th or 5th stater role.

        • CubFan Paul

          levine is vague “looking for bullben help” and “hoping for russell” ..i would definitely sell High w/ russell

          you think rusin is major league now/2012? you’re the first to say so, from what i’ve seen ..any internal pitching would be a huge plus after the looper/davis/ortiz debacle

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            I’d rather see Rusin get at least another half a season in Iowa, but he could go Opening Day if need be. I think Ryan Searle (if he survives the Rule 5) could steal a job in the spring, but he also could use more seasoning. Brooks Raley isn’t too far away; a mid-season call-up wouldn’t shock me. Cabrera is better than his numbers showed last season, and I think we can file him in the mid-season column. Jokisch could be ready in the later part of the year. I go back and forth on Nick Struck. Some days I think he could be ready by July, and some days I’m not so sure. But if he breaks camp with the Cubs, that wouldn’t shock me either.

            And the Cubs could still have Jay Jackson (who got hit with tendinitis at the start of last season, adding to the Cubs rotation issues) and Casey Coleman as options.

            If the Cubs get hit with multiple starting pitching injuries in 2012, it won’t be the disaster it was in 2011. That depth I keep talking about is finally going to be reaching Iowa. We’re mainly looking at 4 and 5 starters for now (but there are some nice arms in the low minors), but help is definitely on the way.

  • Ashley

    @Luke. Do you see Marmol and Soto being traded this offseason?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Marmol, yes. Soto… maybe. Between Soto, Castillo, and Clevenger, I think one will go, but I’d not lay odds on which one just yet.

  • MrCub73

    Wilson would be a great asset in the rotation. The only two years as a starter can also be a plus and increase the chances of a longer deal paying off. Wilson does not have the same wear on his are as a pitcher thats been a starter his whole career.

  • MightyBear

    Dominant left handers are hard to come by. Long term committment is always tough. Maybe if there’s an option for years 5 and 6. Then you get 30-34 for sure and see how he is at 35 and 36. Rotation of Garza, Wilson, Dempster, Zambrano and Wells sounds pretty good w/ Samardja, Cashner, McNutt and a few others in case of injuries or melt downs.

  • john

    Buerhle for 3 better than Wilson for 6

    • MoneyBoy

      MUCH !!!!   So much so, in fact, I’d give Buehrle 3 with a no-trade and club option for 4th.

  • hardtop

    pass.  bad year to buy a pitcher.  never mind what he did in the post season this year, last year was arguably worse.  i find him to be painfully mediocre during the regular season as well.  i also think he’s a cocky fool….

  • Spencer

    For the record, I think 5/75 or 6/100 are both too high. But I am curious as to why you consider the 6/100 to be too much, when it’s only ~1.6 million more a year. That difference, to me, is negligible when talking about an ace starting pitcher.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think we think about it differently. I don’t see that as $1.6M more a year – I think about it as $25 million more for a pitcher’s age 36 season. That does it in, for me.

      • MoneyBoy

        Brett … for all of the obvious talk about lack of innings I agree with you … I neither want to pay that much money NOR commit to that many years for someone his age.

        Think Soriano & Dempster … Demp took his “player option” because NO ONE would give him that kind of money coming off the year he had.   That’s the risk in paying someone like Wilson for that many years.

        Minor point – the 2013 FA pitching class is considerably better than this years

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          Right now the 2013 pitching class is better, but those ranks are going to thin as guys get signed to extensions. It will still be deeper than this year’s class, but it won’t be as deep as it looks now.

          • MoneyBoy

            Agreed and understood

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    It’d be nice to not only get a quality starting pitcher, but to get a quality starter who is a left hander. We haven’t had a lefty starter since Ted Lilly and I like the idea of at least having one southpaw among all the rightys.

    I agree with Ashley’s sentiment though. I’m less impressed with Wilson after having watched him pitch this past postseason. Seemed like he was caving under the pressure. While I would like to see the Cubs sign Wilson, I agree with Brett. I feel like committing to him for more than 4-5 years is just too risky.

    Watching the Hot Stove on MLBN and Gammons just said something like, “The Yankees have been quiet and are letting the market settle and then maybe they’ll go after someone like Garza, and Garza WILL be traded.” He made sure to stress the word “will”.

    Seems like it would be kind of redundant for the Cubs to sign CJ Wilson then go off and trade Garza because as Brett said, if the Cubs sign Wilson it “suddenly makes the “go for it in 2012″ case that much more strong.”

    • Lou

      Exactly and I agree with both of you– what are the Cubs’ aims here? Are we going for some competitiveness or staying more the “Theo course” with player development? Why trade Garza? If we want a LH starter, why not sign Bedard? I know he has an injury history, but that could make his value a LOT cheaper than Wilson.

  • Oswego Chris

    Here is my take…the report said the Cubs wanted to “guage the market”…with the Yankees and Nationals both “out” on Wilson I think the Cubs are just making sure he doesn’t go for a price/length they would have been in on….also I am getting the feeling that interest in Wilson overall is tepid at best….may be one time when MLB execs show restraint on a guy who may not be worth the kind of numbers being bandied about…

    now I am sure he will get his 6/100 now that I made this comment


  • Pat

    I would never want to give more than four years to any pitcher. That will mean you miss out on some of the best ones, but long term pitching contracts rarely work out.

  • Internet Random

    Given our needs and the new CBA, I’m not going to be the least bit surprised if Wilson is a Cub soon. If so, I expect to cringe at the terms. I’ll assume that Jed and Theo know what they’re doing, but I’ll worry just the same.

  • SirCub

    I think I missed out on something. What exactly has caused the excitement over Wilson to die down so much? Was it his poor playoff performance?

  • Gustavo

    sign him to a 5 yr/$85 million deal with a team option for 2017-2018 at $8 million a year. What you think Brett?

  • die hard

    Best trades are of someone least expected to go for someone not on the market. Say, Castro for Votto for instance.

    • Internet Random

      Yeah. Or Castro for DT.

      • die hard

        Votto would replace Aram power numbers….Minors will provide SS unless Cubs then go after Ramirez

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    MLB Trade Rumors is saying the Nationals have offered Wilson a 6 year deal.

    Also, in other news, Jayson Stark is tweeting that the Marlins will have a second meeting in their efforts to land Pujols later tonight.

    Day 1 isn’t quite over yet it seems.

  • Irish cub

    Brett what do you think the lahair meeting with Theo and lahair having a good vibe from it that he may be the 1st baseman. Is this mumbo jumbo or not

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      He will not be starting 1B.

      • Ol’CharlieBrown

        I sure hope not. I can only wonder though, if we don’t sign Fielder or Pujols, who will be our starting first baseman? It doesn’t seem that there has been any talk of re-signing Pena. I’m sure he probably won’t sign till after Prince and Albert (Prince Albert, weird) sign. They’re our only three options in my opinion. If we don’t sign any of them, I can’t think who would take the spot besides LaHair.

        Anyone know if there has there been any indication as to who will be starting at second base? Will it simply be who ever earns it out of Spring Training between DeWitt, Baker, Barney, and LaMahieu?

        • LoneStarCub

          I really want to sign Pujols! I think he is the right man for the job! I just hope the.Marlins don’t snatch him up before we get a chance to me him an offer.

          • MightyBear

            Pujols is going back to the Cards. Everything else is grandstanding.

          • MontelleW

            Pujols is a wash. Numbers on a steady decline. Plus lying about his age. Are you really ready to gamble the cubs for another overpriced “Vet”???? Hmmm, bet you were a fan of the Soriano signing too!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think it was little more than a matter of LaHair being in Dallas for an award at the same time as the Cubs’ new brass, whom he’d not yet had a chance to meet. The Cubs have no incentive to say LaHair won’t get a shot to start.

      • Oswego Chris

        I hope that Gordon Whittenmeyer is his usual clueless self with his article today saying that basically that the Cubs resigning of Rodrigo Lopez is the kind of move they are going to make this week…

        I am not expecting any of the big guns, but let’s please turnover the roster as much as possible…


        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          I’m fine with resigning Lopez he gives depth to a week rotation (not that I excited by such a move), but if that’s the only move the Winter Meetings bring it will be a big plate of meh.

          • Fishin Phil

            I hope that Lopez is that “ninth starter” that Theo was talking about.

            • CubFan Paul

              exactly. Iowa depth, like he was for the Atlanta AAA team when Hendry got him last year #asset

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              You stole my joke. I don’t care. I’m writing it anyway.

              • MoneyBoy

                On Lopez … I’m really not surprised that there might be interest in him … I saw quite a few of his starts – some in person.  On his good days he was actually quite good – much better than expected.

                What became most obvious as the season wore on was that he was a 6 inning pitcher.  Too many times Q let get through 6 real good innings and then would start the 7th with no one warming up in the pen.  KABOOM.

                It’s tough to think that he would be allowed to slip through and sign a minor league deal … though that’s what would be best for the Cubs.  A 40-man roster spot … meh

                • hansman1982

                  Theo hasn’t actually met Lopez, he just saw fuzzy tape of him that was in black and white.  When he saw his delivery he said – “HOLY HELL ITS A LEFT HANDED GREG MADDUX!

          • CubFan Paul

            no way is Lopez coming back. i think this “rumor” came from Theo’s MLBNetwork appearance when he pointed out that Lopez has the same agent for Pujols or Fielder so you can’t “assume” ..Theo is just saying all the “right” things & being polite regarding his players/free agency

            • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

              I wouldn’t say no way. He’d be a good option as a long relief man and a spot starter, or as depth stashed in Iowa. He’s not my first choice, but if he left camp in the spring as a member of the Cubs bullpen I’d be neither surprised nor alarmed.

  • die hard

    Guys I have something to say, I have been a troll for the past couple of years and I’m tired of that being the only interesting part of my day. I sincerely apologize to all of you who have had to waste your time reading my comments. I am finished and will now make only honest posts.

    P.S, I now am a giant fan of series She-Views, and they kinda turn me on….

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Great now we have two die hards. This game is simply tiresome.

  • OHBearCub

    Longtime reader first time poster. Don’t see Theo spending big money this week. I believe he is going to pick up a few Dejesus $$$guys. He is going to keep big Z til the deadline along with Soriano. He is going to build some value there and get better returns than he will now. Same with Colvin coach him up get him turned around with a decent first half. He is cheap and will be attractive in a package. If he is going to spend $$$it better be on pitching. Slow teams that wait on HR’s have failed forever at Wrigley. I hope builds around pitching, speed and defense until our home grown guys come on. I have been watching them for 50 years. I want to see something different something better. The Giants won with pitching, speed and defense. They would have been back this yearwith Posey. Lets sign the best pitching we can and keep Garza. Next year we can do a little more when Z is off the books. Today Theo said patience. I will take. 500 this year

    • SirCub

      Welcome, BearCub. I tend to agree with your sentiments.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Welcome, OBC.

  • Lou Cub

    From the Sun Times the Rockies want Scott Maine and Lemehieu for Ian Stewart…I say no to LeMehieu, no friggin way….

    • kubphan82

      I’d like to see the Stewart rumors die… Please LAA make a deal for him! Which probably means that Ramirez needs to hurry up and sign with Philly so the Angels feel compelled.

      Or before they sign & trade, the Cubs land the Levine tweet true before Headley becomes even MORE expensive.

  • Morgan

    Lemehieu is already 23 24 yrs old, why ppl like this kid, hes going to be nothing more that a bench player, dont see him hitting for enough power to be every day player, the guy is like 6’4 220 and can only hit a few hr, he swings the bat like a girl, anyone that big should have decent power and he doesnt

    • kubphan82

      I’d like to see that Levine tweet come true… Padres interested in RP, Cubs may have to part with James Russell for Headley. Um, ok… It looks like the tweet suggests a couple of RP including Russell, most scenarios I would say ok, especially if Russell is the central candidate already released. That places LeMeheiu as our potential 2B, of course “competing” with Barney… Considerably better than LeMeheiu 3B and Barney 2B…

  • Lou Cub

    He’s better than Barney and he’ll hit a dozen more homers a year than him and bat between 285-300 and play solid d….He was drafted out of college that’s why he’s a bit older, big deal…he’s gone thru the system fast

  • Stephen

    Theo needs to LEAVE THE DEALERSHIP before he ends up buying something WE CAN’T USE RIGHT NOW.
    Albert for 10 years and 225-250 or Wilson for 6 and 100 mil??? Are you insane? We have cursed and belittled Soriano for the last 2 years, and unless dumped, we have him for 3 more @ 18 per.
    Add a few more inexpensive pieces and lets DEVELOP this organization and put some cash away.

  • Roland

    Why would we do that is it your money Stephen? We as Cubs fans deserve the best product that the team can put on the field. Now I am not a big fan of signing Wilson or Pujols, but to say save money is bs. I go see the cubs every year buy cubs wear for myself and family I expect a good product. They have an obligation to put a good product on the field.They should be in on the big free agents that they think they need. We do not follow a small market team they draw 3 to 4 million people a year. Now if you do not like who they are talking about fine but to say they should save money is the wrong approach.

  • chris margetis

    Just read on MLB Trade Rumors the Cubs have more interest in Prince than Albert. If Albert somehow goes to the Marlins, I’d almost guarantee Theo and Co back way off Prince. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, just getting those two out of the division almost makes the Cubs contenders. Almost. No need to spend the loot on either if they don’t directly affect the outcome of the Central.

  • Ron Swanson

    I’m not sure that a Jeff Baker/Brian Lahair platoon at first is the worst option out there if the money saved can go into starting pitching. Lahair would play most days hitting against right handed pitching and Baker tears lefties up. Not sure of the combined strength defensively but like I said, if the money can create large upgrades elsewhere, I could see this as a decent fallback.

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