A small but important addendum to yesterday’s Scott Feldman signing, which ostensibly filled the Cubs’ rotation (Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Scott Baker, Travis Wood, Scott Feldman). I cautioned when the signing was announced that I wasn’t convinced the Cubs were done adding starting pitching, simply because they now had an arguable five starters. Because of the nature of starting pitching (you always need more), because of the recoveries from injury/surgery by Garza and Baker, because of the uncertain performance of almost all of those starters, and because of the possibility of trading a guy like Garza, it really wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the Cubs add another starting pitcher this offseason.
And, from the sound of things, the Cubs very well could add another arm before the offseason is over – and I don’t just mean a minor league flyer type.
“We felt like we had to add at least two starting pitchers as we went into the Winter,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told reporters yesterday. “We will continue to look for talent. If that talent is in the rotation then we wouldn’t consider ourselves done. We would certainly add someone else.
“We are excited about the two guys we have added [Scott Feldman and Scott Baker], and we believe they will provide a lot of quality innings for us. As far as where the rotation stands right now we are still looking to get better and looking to add talent all over the team.”
At its most basic level, Hoyer is simply saying the Cubs aren’t ruling anything out – but that’s always true. Given the relative depth in the middle tier starting market this offseason (I know that sounds strange to say, given what is perceived as a lack of starting pitching depth on the free agent market – but that’s just at the top), which is only going to get deeper after Friday’s non-tender deadline, the Cubs would be foolish to shut things down and stop pursuing guys they believe can provide value in 2013.
Whether that means they’ll aggressively pursue a top option like Anibal Sanchez or an upper-middle tier option like Brandon McCarthy remains to be seen. I think there remain very good reasons to do so (improves the rotation overall, allows the Cubs to give Scott Baker plenty of time to get ready, and allows the Cubs to consider their options with Matt Garza), but the Cubs instead might try to pick up a third pitcher like Feldman or Baker – a short-term, low-cost, bounce-back candidate (Francisco Liriano? Mike Pelfrey? Jair Jurrjens?).
In fact, the more I think about it, I’d be shocked if the Cubs didn’t, at a minimum, add another arm from the latter category. And I’d be pleased if they added an arm from the former category.