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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.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    Great post Brett! As I agree with you, the Cubs arnt done tinkering with the Rotation.. Now let’s go get a 3rd baseman

  • Kyle

    Please please please tell me this is a bullpen or 6th man move and they aren’t done with the rotation.

    • ETS

      I think you’re right Kyle. Feldman, I am hoping, is just starting depth, bullpen help and some one to challenge for a 5th starter spot in ST, but no way they consider this rotation complete (unless they want a top 2 pick 2 years in a row).

    • Nate

      Last year Theo Epstein said that it was proven that the average team needs nine starters. Nine! Due to injuries and under performance, starters are bound to need replacing. I don’t know the exact number for the Cubs, but I’d be willing to bet they used more than nine starting pitchers last year. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the Cubs are definitely not done acquiring arms.

    • CubFan Paul

      what if they signed Liriano or McCarthy to a team friendly 2 year deal and said that they were done with the rotation? i think thats the plan, a Liriano/Marcum/McCarthy with plans to trade Garza, Baker,& Feldman and leave T.Wood in the bullpen til July

      • Nate

        I’d love to have any of the three you mentioned but I don’t see any of them, especially McCarthy, going for only 2 years. i’d say their contract would be more like:

        Liriano: 3 year, 18 mil
        Marcum: 3 year, 10 mil
        McCarthy: 4 year, 20 mil

        Again, not the money they are worth but that’s how it goes on the free agent market.

        • Mick

          Huh? I think you’re a little low on your estimates. I predict they’ll sign for something like this:

          Liriano: 1 year $5mil
          Marcum: 3 years $30mil
          McCarthy: 3 years $36mil

          • CubFan Paul

            yea, Guthrie got 3yrs/$25M

        • CubFan Paul

          They could all go for a 1 year deal to rebuild value/stock. but either way, a 3 year contract for the right guy wouldn’t be a hindrance

  • North Side Irish

    “If that was the end of the rotation picture, it would be a disappointing one”…could not agree more. I said after the Baker signing that they still needed two more SPs and I still feel like they need two more SPs. Would be hugely underwhelming if they were done with the rotation after this.

  • ETS

    zzzzz wake me when mccarthy gets here ;)

  • Colin

    We can only hope Theo and Jed are going for the Fangraphs wet dream and will be announcing a Brandon McCarthy signing soon too.

  • Brian Peters

    Never heard of him.

  • Rcleven

    Still better than the Volsted option.

    • jayrig5

      Agreed. If you want to look at last year’s rotation as an example of what Theo is comfortable starting the season with, I’d say Baker and Feldman sort of replace Maholm and Volstad respectively (rebound candidates, potentially an upgrade on both counts) which leaves them wanting a replacement for Dempster (i.e., a more “sure thing” 2/3 starter). Just for fun, McCarthy would fit that description

  • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

    Don’t see us passing Houston for the top pick next year, but we are going to make a run at it.

    • North Side Irish

      Don’t forget Miami…they’ll be in contention too.

  • Ron

    Holy crap, look at his elbow in that picture!

    • DarthHater

      That’s a tatoo to make batters overconfident! ;-)

  • Ben

    Who will be booted off the 40 man? Coleman?

    Like the signing. Little bit of upside, not a ton of downside. Perfect guy for our squad next year. I agree with others that we still need one more SP.

    If they managed to sign McCarthy and find a viable 3rd baseman, what would you set the over/under for wins next year at? 75? Higher?

    • ETS

      higher

    • Kyle

      With just those improvements? Right around 75. Still need a CF and a bullpen.

      • hansman1982

        we have an acceptable closer, Russell appears to be ok in the setup role, if Camp is used properly he can compliment Russell and 1 of the younger arms.

        I am still not convinced that spending big money on relievers is hardly ever a good idea.

    • terencem

      Around 75 sounds about right. I said last year they were probably a 72 win team when the season started (meaning a 75 win team if a few things went as expected or a little better). They’re looking like they could get back to that if they find a center fielder and third baseman.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        But they’re going to dump pieces at the deadline again if they’re on that pace. Without a significant change or two, I’d be shocked if next year’s team wins 75 games.

        • Kyle

          There’s definitely a path to 100 losses here. With injuries and trades, Wood might be the last man standing in the rotation by August 1.

          There’s still some paths to a decent season, too, if the breaks go their way in ways they did not last season.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I just don’t see them upgrading the offense sufficiently for this rotation conversation to even matter. There is no big-time 3B to add, they aren’t going after a big-time CF, and they may actually trade away Soriano.

            I’m not upset by any of this, because I still see the merit. But, yeah, I just think the 2013 team – right now – looks as bleak as 2012.

            • ottoCub

              I really think the Cubs are going to go with Ian Stewart and/or Luis Valbuena for 3B in 2013. It is very possible that Stewart will play at a pre-injury level now that he has recovered from surgery, and it is definitely worth giving him a shot before moving on. There aren’t many other options out there this year anyway, so it seems prudent to wait until next year. The infield is set, but they really need to add an outfielder, hopefully a decent SLG and RBI guy to put in the middle of the line-up. They also need to get at least one more SP – I’m hoping for McCarthy.

            • Ben

              I’m not saying I disagree.

              However, barring injuries and trades (which are both hard to predict at this point), a rotation of Garza/Shark/McCarthy/Baker/Wood/Feldman seems quite a bit better than what we ended last year with (and IMO, at least close to what we started last year with).

              If Barney/Castro/Rizzo/Castillo continue to take small steps forward, we could have an interesting squad. I’m sure we will make midseason deals to remove pieces, but to start the year, the team could at least be interesting.

              • Kyle

                I agree for the most part, but when you are counting on a guy like McCarthy, injuries are pretty easy to predict.

            • hansman1982

              We will see how this plays out but if we look at CF – really anyone there would be an upgrade but I am sure they are trying to figure out Brett Jackson/current roster folks before making too much of a splash there.

              Catcher and SS should upgrade from last year. 2B, 1B, RF (as it stands now) should be about the same. LF will probably degrade slightly.

              That leaves CF/RF (assuming you could/would want to move DeJesus to CF) and 3B where the Cubs could stand to pick up the impact bats. Barring adding Greinke (no thank you at 6/$150), Sanchez (please do), Hamilton (NO) /Upton (ehh, maybe) this offseason, contention in 2013 is going to require a degree of luck. So what do you do?

              I would add as many pieces as I could that I could flip at the deadline in hopes that Stanton is available for just prospects next winter. Long shot, sure, but that would fill RF. I would sign Sanchez, I would make a serious run (but stand firm at a borderline team friendly contract) at Upton and then see where the chips fall.

  • Zachary

    I hate to break this to you but he is pretty much a lock for the rotation. You don’t pay a guy 6 million dollars to eat innings in the bullpen and spot start. I agree that their not done tho

    • North Side Irish

      I think Feldman is in the rotation to start the year while Baker gets healthy. When Baker comes back in mid to late May, Wood moves to the pen until Feldman gets flipped. And if Feldman’s not pitching well enough to get traded, then he goes to the pen or gets waived. It’s only a one year deal.

  • DarthHater

    The Cubs would have to be incredibly lucky for Feldman and Baker to be as good this year as Dempster and Maholm were last year. Counting on being incredibly lucky is a poor strategy. Ergo, I hope that the FO is not planning on a rotation of Garza/Samardzija/Wood/Feldman/Baker.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agreed.

      (Unless they want a repeat of the 2012 outcome, which is not entirely out of the question.)

      • Kyle

        And then we can enter next offseason saying “There’s no reason to add anything at the MLB level because we’re nowhere near close.”

        • ETS

          lol I like your logic!

        • Lou

          Sort of conspiracy theory there. “See our rebuilding plan is working, it’s working.” Why? because we’re not going to show you an alternative reality with a team that might contend. Yep.

      • ETS

        I doubt the fan base would stand for it 2 years in a row

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I actually tend to agree (even if I might be able to stomach it).

      • DarthHater

        Unless they want a repeat of the 2012 outcome, which is not entirely out of the question.

        Not sure what you meant by that statement. If you meant that it’s entirely possible the team could be as bad in 2013 as it was in 2012, it’s hard to disagree. If you meant that it’s entirely possible the FO might want a repeat of the 2012 outcome, I can only pray that’s not true. I would find that entirely unacceptable, and I am trying very hard to be accepting of their long-term plans.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I meant the latter, but I only go so far as to say it isn’t out of the question (not that I necessarily think they DO want that).

          • DarthHater

            Wow. I hope that’s not the case. Otherwise, I might have to join the Minions of Kyle and I’d really prefer to avoid that… ;-)

            • Kyle

              In like three years people will be running Epstein out of town and I’ll have to talk about how underrated he’s been.

              • Lou

                Good one.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I think they are only hoping 1 of them is as good as Dempster/Maholm.

      • DarthHater

        If true, that leaves two possibilities logically open: (1) they are planning to add another (better) starter this offseason; or (2) they are planning to be even worse in 2013 than they were in 2012.

      • Coldneck

        If so, they should have just spent $11-12M on a more projectable option.

    • cjdubbya

      Baker just had TJS in April though – is he even going to be ready for the start of the year? Even so, he’ll be on an inning count for sure.

  • TC

    This dude almost caused a civil war in the BleacherNation Fantasy League this past summer

    • Cubbie Blues

      I forgot all about that.

      • TC

        Honestly, I had, too, until I spent a minute staring at the post’s title wondering why I knew so much about him

    • Spencer

      HAHAHAHA! I didn’t connect the dots until you said something
      Nicely done.

    • terencem

      Hahah. What happened, if you don’t mind me asking (and not dragging over any drama)?

      • TC

        Co-commish added Feldman (who had a terrible week anyway) without going through the waiver process or anything. Admittedly, the system was broken, and the move shouldve been easy to do, but the fact he used commish powers unfairly threw the entire league into total shitstorm mode, which was compounded by the fact that the guy couldnt get to a computer and respond for a few days

  • Dustin S

    I’m still not expecting any huge signings, this one and Baker are in-line with what Theo has been doing all along in the rebuild process (buy-low flippable gambles).

    As far as Feldman, he’s interesting but one thing that stood out with him looking at last year’s line was that out of 21 starts, he went less than 7 innings 18 of those. Most of his starts he only went 4-6 innings. So that plus his injury history give me the impression that he’ll be one of those (we need a term for them) 2/3 starters, where they can almost plan on needing to use 3-4 innings of RP when they start.

  • Mick

    I’ve liked these veteran additions the Cubs have been making especially if they add Keppinger. This signing should fill up the starting rotation but I can definitely envision them picking up a couple bounce back minor league contracts like Joel Pineiro, Justin Duchscherer, Rich Harden, Eric Bedard, Jeff Francis, Brandon Webb, Andrew Brackman, etc. for when/if we flip a few guys at the deadline or to spot start for any injuries.

    • terencem

      If they can get Harden on a minor league deal, it’d be interesting. He hasn’t pitching anywhere since 2011.

  • Bill

    Yuck, yuck, yuck. The release Volstad and then sign his brother for more money. Come on Theo. If you are going to spend $6M on a pitcher then spend it on guys like McCarthy, Liriano, or Marcum, who have actually had success in the past. A career ERA just south of 5.00 does not improve the pitching staff.

    Looks like Theo wants to see if he can repeat that 100 loss effort.

    • jt

      There are 16 NL teams each with 5 rotation spots. That is a count of 80.
      Only 41 NL starters had as many as 29 starts; only 65 as many as 21.
      There is nothing to make one believe that any of the The Cubs signed 2013 other than Shark will be in the 29 or starts class.
      They need another starter. They really need another “good” starter.

    • http://www.hockeenight.com Slak

      I think that’s Theo’s goal. Lose as many games as possible. You hit that one on the head.

  • Stevie B

    ‘Bounce back candidate?”

    Bounce back to what…from horrible crappy? Seriously look at his numbers…

    • Cedlandrum

      I see a really, really good year a few years back.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Boo hoo, the Cubs spent $6M for a 1 year lottery ticket in hopes that the guy performs more like his FIP/xFIP than his ERA.

    BFD.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I agree, though I think the folks who are bothered are more bothered by the fact that this takes a rotation spot up, rather than by the money.

  • gocubbies
  • Coldneck

    I don’t like this signing very much at all. Feldman isn’t very good, even when healthy. He has one decent season to his name and a career ERA of 4.81 and ERA+ of 95. I would have much rather paid a real starter $11-12M per season than hope for a flyer in Feldman and Baker.

    • Coldneck

      That said, I also recognize this isn’t that bad of a deal and can’t fully be judged until the end of the offseason when we see the entire picture. Just not what I would do.

  • Mat B

    So, the Cubs just signed Marty Feldman. That should be good for a few laughs. Wait…who?

    • http://www.hockeenight.com Slak

      They believe the solo from Holy Wars is what can get them over the hump in 2013.

      • OlderStyle

        thumbs up.

        • http://www.hockeenight.com Slak

          It was a stretch but Feldman/Friedman – I went for it

          • FFP

            ‘Hump? What Hump?’

            • OlderStyle

              … the one on your, erm… nevermind.

  • Kyle

    So according to Cot’s baseball contracts, we now have $56.4 million in hard commits (i.e. not including bonuses and incentives) for this year’s payroll.

    With arbitration estimates and pre-arb salaries, we’d break camp at about $82 million right now if we made no more additions.

    • When the Music’s Over

      If all goes according to “plan”, the end of the year all-in major league payroll might be south of $75M, and even perhaps another $10M lower if the Cubs are able to flip Garza in the preseason for a reasonable return.

    • Mick

      I have the 2013 Cubs payroll at $93,050,00 which does count incentives, Soler and Concepcion, MLBTR’s arbitration estimates, and $500,000 as the minimum salaries. Who knows what the Cubs will do with Ian Stewart because his estimated arb is $4,250,000 which seems completely unreasonable. Maybe if we sign Keppinger we cut Stewart loose?

      Either way, wasn’t a mid-$90 million payroll what Bruce Levine estimated? If so, that would mean, the Cubs may be about finished. #1 pick, here we come!

  • North Side Irish

    In today’s Fangraph article on the signing, Cameron seems to think that both Feldman and Baker were signed to potentially be long term pieces and even references signing Feldman to an extension this summer. Not at all how I saw these signings, especially Feldman. I assumed both only signed one year deals to prove their value and get moved.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cubs-sign-scott-feldman-land-another-bargain/

  • morgan

    Feldman and baker are about the same as dempster, yeah dempster had 2 good months but there about the same pitchers so i like the moves,

    • kranzman54

      Come on now. In the 4 years Feldman has started at least 20 games he has a total WAR of 1.9. He has had 3 of those 4 years with an ERA in the 5s (including last year) and then there are the injuries. I am not saying its the worst signing (I do think we still need AT LEAST 1 more pitcher) but you can’t say he is the same as Dempster with a career ERA at 3.38 and a WAR of 16.4 since becoming a starter with the Cubs 5 years ago. Those numbers are way to lopsided to call the same.

  • Bill

    Buying a lottery ticket on a guy like Liriano, McCarthy, Marcum, makes perfect sense as these guys have pitched well in the past. Buying one on Feldman, who’s pretty much sucked his entire career, is puzzling and disheartening as a Cub fan.

    • Chris

      It seems like they are really trying to hit on a couple of long-shots. I’d almost rather see Rusin and Raley as the 4th and 5th starters instead of Feldman and Baker. I think I hate pretty much every move they’ve made this offseason. Navarro, Baker, Feldman, Camp… Keppinger would be more of the same.

  • Rizzofanclub

    Not expecting any huge signings and going into the season with this rotation is 2 totally different things. I have faith that the cubs will sign one of McCarthy or Jackson but if they do not and end up signing Keppinger to play 3rd. They would probably then go with a in-house option for right/center. Man that would put the payroll in the 75 million range and lock us up for a top 3 pick for sure. I have my fingers crossed that I am wrong about this. If the cubs are trying to do the whole swapping players for prospects you have to do it the Florida Marlins way and sign players that have value then swap them for prospects.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Well I like both moves of Feldman and Baker but I still see 1 more starting pitcher move before all said and done. 1 yr deals so it is a no lose situation if they do good than you can trade them at the deadline to get something or if they stink you don’t bring them back .

  • TC

    Life of Theo Epstein. 2012: not enough pitchers, everyone blames you because Brooks Raley and folks like him are really shitty MLB pitchers. Go and sign some pitching depth, and everyone complains some more, this time about pitching depth being dumb and WHY WONT THIS TEAM GIVE BJ UPTON $100 MILLION ALREADY?!

    • Kyle

      I see someone’s been playing Imaginary Comments Section again…

      • TC

        Well, Kyle, you keep beating the drum for an impact CF, how the hell else do you suggest they get him to join a terrible team without throwing a buttload of money at him?

        And please, look at a lot of the comments above, nothing but negativity about the signing

        • Kyle

          I don’t recall beating the drum for an impact CFer. I put it forward as one of many possible paths to putting together a decent team, sure, but they don’t absolutely have to have one. And there’s a lot of them besides Upton out there.

          The comments have been a mix. If you only see negative, it’s because you see what you want to see.

          • TC

            you make enough comments here that if one in 3 mentions signing a CF, that’s beating the drum. And yea, you mention other paths, like a bullpen piece or two (cause those contracts are always smart) and signing a 3B (not much there), a SP (Greinke aint coming, McCarthy isn’t a lock to be any good) or a CF (of which there are only a few). If I’m reading too much into your comments, sorry, but of all the ways you suggest building the team, the CF option is the only real feasible one, and it would be outrageously expensive to do so

            • Kyle

              Good thing we can afford outrageously expensive, then.

              But it’s irrelevant, because CF and the last rotation spot have nothing to do with each other.

              • TC

                well, yeah, they do, because if you can’t upgrade both, you’re left with a very, very mediocre team that has limited upside for the future and leaves you in a frustratingly useless position in the league with 70-75 wins

                • Kyle

                  Good thing we can upgrade both if we want to, then.

            • hansman1982

              The quicker you learn that Kyle says nothing with his comments every day the better.

              • bbmoney

                Whoa…I don’t always agree with Kyle, and he’s very persistant in his views, and he too often has very long posts where he often requotes things previously said to respond…..but he’s growing on me.

                And he’s kind of convinced me that there is no reason the Cubs shouldn’t try to sign a big time FA or two, even this year. Well Kyle and continuing to see contract like Longorias that are just going to keep more and more quality players from hitting FA which will just drive prices up further due to scarcity.

              • Kyle

                Now stop!
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                Hatin’ is bad.

                • hansman1982

                  Hammer time…

    • Chris

      This free agency class is crap. The Braves can have Upton. I guess it’s just hard for me to comprehend that the Cubs bought “low” on these 2 pitchers, at $5-6m each. It seems like they could have gone $10-12m and signed some better quality guys to fill out the rotation, given all the names out there right now. They hit on Maholm, so maybe I just have to trust their instincts and hope these guys aren’t Jason Berken.

    • kranzman54

      Man I agree, t is crazy. Everyone wants all the news and the behind the scenes stuff, but if its not a premire player everyone freaks out. This is another smart low risk/higher reward move that is helping us during the roster turn over period. We do need another pitcher to make this year managable, but this is not an AWFUL move or even an insignificant move.

  • When the Music’s Over

    Also, with guys like Cabrera and Bowden reportedly being stretched out, and the presence of other pinch starters like Rusin, Raley, Coleman (if he’s still on the team), etc, this could very well be the Cubs last rotation move.

    • When the Music’s Over

      ….and don’t forget about Vizcaino perhaps getting some starts around mid-year.

  • North Side Irish

    Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney
    Hoyer says #Cubs targeted Feldman/Baker but will keep looking – it’s too early in offseason to rule out multiyear deal for rotation.

    • North Side Irish

      Sounds more like they would look for a bargain, but big money signing is unlikely.

    • Kyle

      “Not ruling out” is GM Speak for “I have no intention of doing this, but it’s not completely theoretically impossible.”

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, because they usually say things like, “We’re definitely going to sign a pitcher to a multiyear deal this offseason.”

        The statement means nothing, but it also means what he said: it’s possible.

      • hansman1982

        Agree with Brett – no GM worth anything will ever commit to anything concrete or even remotely concrete – ruins any attempts at them obtaining leverage

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