Fast and furious today … I like it.
The Chicago Cubs today signed free agent pitcher Scott Feldman to a one-year deal for $6 million plus $1 million in incentives. Although he’s worked out of the pen a bit in recent years, he’s almost certainly being brought in as a starting pitcher.
The signing comes on the heels of another one-year deal by the Cubs, that with Scott Baker ($5.5 million plus incentives), who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Like Baker, Feldman isn’t the type that you picture as a middle-of-the-rotation mainstay in 2013, but instead is more of a flippable type, whom the Cubs would hope reclaims some value by mid-season.
I discussed Scott Feldman as a possible Cubs target back when the Rangers declined his 2013 option, since he fit the mold of the type the Cubs have been looking to pursue:
The Rangers turned Feldman loose after a mediocre year as a mostly-starter. He looked like he was on his way to a successful career in the middle-to-back of a rotation when he had to have microfracture surgery in his knee before the 2011 season. His 2012 season saw him put up a 5.09 ERA over 123.2 innings … HOWEVA, he had a 3.81 FIP, a .318 BABIP (20 points higher than his career average), and a 3.00 K/BB ratio. That’s a very attractive looking middle-tier, bounce-back candidate starter right there. He turns 30 in February.
In other words, this signing – with really does mirror the Baker signing in so many ways – offers a lot to like.
The Feldman signing theoretically fills up the rotation, with him slotting in behind Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, and Scott Baker. If that was the end of the rotation picture, it would be a disappointing one, as neither Baker nor Feldman are locks to be both healthy and productive in 2013, and wouldn’t represent much – if any – upgrade over the Dempster/Garza/Samardzija/Maholm/Wood rotation of the early part of last year. For that reason, I’m not sure I see the Cubs as done tinkering in the rotation just yet.
I’m sure we’ll be discussing just that quite a bit over the coming days, but you can expect to hear the Cubs say vague things like, “you can never have too many arms, and we’ll consider anything that makes the Cubs better in 2013 and in the long-term.” Some folks will say that means the Cubs are done with the rotation, while others will say the Cubs will keep looking.
As noted in the comments, the Cubs will have to clear a 40-man spot for Feldman before his signing can become officially official. You would imagine it would either be a pitcher like Casey Coleman, or a non-tender like Ian Stewart.