The Cubs Almost Certainly Aren’t Done Adding Arms

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.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

78 responses to “The Cubs Almost Certainly Aren’t Done Adding Arms”

  1. cjdubbya

    This might be a bit of greed speaking, but would they add one from the former *AND* one from the latter?

  2. tim

    You can have more than 5 starting pitchers? Obviously, Jim Hendry was unaware when he scuttled Gorzelanny.

    1. Lou

      Yeah, that certainly seemed the case, didn’t it?

  3. Njriv

    Rafael Perez?

  4. preacherman86

    I could legitimately see a number of things happening based on the pitching signings thus far. First off, if all goes well with Baker and Feldman, they could be very valuable pieces in the rotation, especially comparing road splits to those of McCarthy. Bottom line two flippable pieces if they perform. But digging deeper, what if the Cubs brass is doing something we havent even yet considered? Feldman brings an incredibly unique spread of options for the FO. He has already proven to be a decent if not one of the better bullpen arms around from his time in Texas. Maybe the Cubs sign a Sanchez or a Marcum if they can, but if they can’t Feldman is in the rotation? We have talked all year about Marmol being available and the Cubs desire to deal him if they find a favorable package. Maybe Theo and Jed see Feldman with the additional value of putting him at closer after a Marmol deal, iff they are able to deal Marmol. Seems to me like the club doesn’t quite have their bullpen arms from the farm ready to step up, and if Feldman proves to be a good back end of the bullpen arm, he could hold value that way at the deadline too.
    Just saying we have all been looking at these signings as bolstering the rotation, but it is entirely possible that the Feldman signing was as much about his diverse value as a low risk high reward rotation arm, or a better than average bullpen arm when we near the deadline next summer. Theo and Jed like to keep options open, maybe just maybe they saw 6 million and that much diversity with various upside as the reason to sign Feldman and still pursue a upper tier or middle-upper tier starter this offseason.

    1. baseballet

      I think I read that the Cubs’ FO guaranteed to Feldman that he’d be a starter.

      1. ETS

        Do you have a source for that? I assumed most of what preacherman hashed out there.

        1. Brad

          They wouldn’t give Feldman 7k to be a closer….

          1. Lou

            Not sure. I’d agree with you. I think he’s better at closing…but will see. His FIP seems to indicate they’ll give him ample opportunity to start.

      2. Cubbie Blues

        I believe it was actually the opportunity to be in the running (which may be more than he would have gotten elsewhere).

      3. Boogens

        “I think I read that the Cubs’ FO guaranteed to Feldman that he’d be a starter.”

        I did too, but it also doesn’t seem likely that they’d pay a non-closing reliever $6 million in 2013. IMO he was signed to be a starter.

        1. WGNstatic

          I agree, the $$ point to starter. What’s more, Baker and Feldman signed with the Cubs early in the offseason, this points to a level of trust in the front office.

          If a team goes out and signs someone in November, then bumps them from the rotation in January… Let’s just say there will be some bruised egos and pissed off agents.

          It is easy to say “They are getting paid, go to the pen and earn it.” But if a team routinely betrays the trust of these fringy type players it won’t take long before those guys won’t sign with the Cubs anymore.

      4. arta

        read same thing.

  5. WGNstatic

    I had a thought after the Cubs signed Baker, could they actually use a 6-man rotation?

    Of the 5 guys slotted for the rotation now, Baker and Garza are coming off injuries, Samardzija is coming off a career high in IP and was shut down early, and even Feldman is a 180 innings type pitcher (not saying he can’t hit 200, but that would be nearly a 33% increase from last year). That leave only Travis Wood as a guy without a warning label attached to his innings, and even he is a young starter who I am sure the Cubs would like to protect as much as possible.

    So what about a 6-man rotation? The biggest problem with a 6-man rotation is that it dilutes your front of the rotation starters impact, but, is that really that big an issue with this team? The Cubs have 5 #2-#4 type starters, so ceding a few Garza starts wouldn’t be that big a drop off.

    There are of course questions/down sides. Would a 6-man rotation actually preserve the health of your pitchers? It would potentially cost more (starters cost more than relievers). You are left with a thinner bullpen (particularly an issue if the Cubs want to bring in a rule 5 pitcher).

    Curious to hear folks thoughts.

  6. MightyBear

    I’d still like to see the Cubs add McCarthy. I think he would help in the short and long run. I might give him a short contract with a couple of team option years to make it longer. Say 4 years with 2 years of buyout club options in years 3 and 4. If that’s even doable.

    On another note, everyone assumes the Cubs are going to suck next year and lose 100 games because they’re not spending money. I totally disagree with this assumption. While it’s probable the Cubs will not be a contending team, they could put it together and have a great season and make the playoffs. If the Cubs had kept all their players and not traded for prospects at the deadline, they wouldn’t have lost 100 games. Moreover, baseball is a really funny game where anything can happen. Nobody and I mean nobody thought the A’s would win the AL West. While the Cubs don’t have the young pitching the A’s have, in baseball anything is possible. The good thing is the Cub’s management has a plan and they’re sticking to it. They have contingencies if the Cubs are good, bad or ugly. No matter what happens the organization is moving forward and I believe in the right way.

    1. King Jeff

      Nice post Bear. You can also point to a very surprising run by Baltimore last year as an example of unexpected contention. I would also add that this offseason has barely started and they’ve already signed two SP’s. I don’t think the front office plans to go into next year with the team as is, and I don’t think the “groundwork laid at the gm meetings” has come to fruition yet. I expect a few more middling signings and a trade or two to help build the rest of the roster.

      1. Big Joe

        You can also point out that Baltimore had/has MUCH more talent than the Cubs. Therefore, a better chance at a season that nobody saw coming. I realize that it’s early in the off-season, and rosters change, yes. But, the Cubs need to add A LOT of talent to have a shot at being next year’s O’s.

  7. Fastball

    Like I said earlier. Theo and Jed need to stockpile these pitchers that are out there. We are so weak on the pitching front. The FA market will allow Theo and Jed to turn a weakness into a strength if they keep the foot on the gas pedal. Don’t stop now. I think they should get at least a McCarthy type if not two and maybe go get two more Baker/Feldman’s.

    With regard to stretching out Bowman and Cabrera in WB that is just smart. They simply cannot get enough work in WB throwing out of BP. They need innings and a lot of them to refine their craft. Multiple inning outings help build consistency with the changes they need to be making in mechanics and pitch development. I doubt that either one is going to be a starter unless they are in Iowa. These WB innings should help them be more polished by ST and be ready to be effective out of the BP in 2013.

  8. Rcleven

    Why stop at one more? Theo has stated he needs 10 starters. He has possibly 7 to 8 at this point. Could 2 to 3 more starters be in the cards?

    1. Fishin Phil

      I could see two more.

  9. ETS

    I want brandon mccarthy…. still.

  10. Jeremy

    Honestly, unless it’s Grienke, I’d rather they not sign another SP but trade for young ML ready starter. I’m not a big fan of Sanchez because I have concerns about his health. I believe he is right around ten years removed from Tommy John as well which is a red flag for me.

    I would rather we go the route of adding a Young ML ready SP such as Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs or trade for multiple young pitchers that maybe aren’t quite ready but have huge ceilings such as Noah Syndergaaurd and Daniel Norris.

    1. Brad

      I agree. I’m a huge fan of not signing Sanchez. I will be disappointed if they did. They won’t, there are so many teams after sp’s.

  11. Smitty

    I am of the mindset that the Cubs will add at least another FA Starter for three reasons.

    1. While there isn’t any word about trouble with the recoveries of Baker and Garza, it is very likely that one of them will not be ready at the start of the season.
    2. You can always move Wood or Baker to the pen as a long reliever/spot starter. Especially Baker to help him continue building up his arm strength.
    3. The FO definitely plans to be trading one of the 3 “veterans” that they have on the staff at some point this year.

    1. MightyBear

      3. The FO definitely plans to be trading one of the 3 “veterans” that they have on the staff at some point this year.

      Assuming they’re not in contention.

      1. Boogens

        Not a leap at this moment. ;-)

      2. CubFan Paul

        Assuming they’re not in contention

        The plan is to not be in contention in 2013. Duh.

  12. Fastball

    I agree with Mighty Bear. The FO keeps adding via the draft and IFA draft which should be a good one for us this year. That really helps build up the farm system. We don’t have much pitching above AA. So going the FA route right now is they only way we do that for 2013 and 2014 until the drafted pitchers show up. I hated to see the deadline dump last year just as the Cubs started to play really good ball. But that was the plan all along so I can bitch about it but I accept it. This year we are going to be better than last year. The young players at the ML level have another year of experience and they will be better next season for it. I am all for signing pitchers like crazy right now. If we do, this year at the deadline we can trade a few and leave the cupboard bare like last year. We sold the fancy rims off the Tahoe and put the stock rims back on and the rest is history. I think we are still driving a Tahoe but we have nice rims again. With a few OF signings and a 3B as well as about 4 more pitchers we could move up to a decently loaded Tahoe. I would love to see a Range Rover but that won’t happen in 2013. I will take a fully loaded Tahoe and see what happens.

  13. Rich

    Is it just me or do we really need a top of the rotation guy. I mean the guys we have gotten are all good to stop gap and maybe flip but why haven’t there been any move to upgrade long term? Hopefully there is a trade in the weeds to get the front end arm to be a number 2 or better.

  14. Mat B

    What are the chances that they add a pitcher that has a better than 50% chance of succeeding, instead of just a hope and a prayer?

  15. Rcleven

    Off topic:

    Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan

    Caracas Lions drop Josh Vitters after only two games and seven hitless at-bats in Venezuelan Winter League. #Ouch

    1. Fishin Phil


    2. Dustin

      IMO I think Vitters sucks

      1. Cubbie Blues

        The Caracas Lions seem to agree with you.

    3. Cubbie Blues

      So, your saying now wouldn’t be the best time to trade him?

      Seriously though, that is a huge blow.

      1. Dustin

        I agree..sadly lol

      2. Rcleven

        Could it be the Cubs have recalled him?

        1. Dustin

          maybe they recalled him because they have a trade in place??

    4. DarthHater

      Perhaps the Cubs should sign whoever is playing 3B for the Caracas Lions.

      1. Dustin

        probably alot better then Vitters

  16. Rizzofanclub

    MightyBear I love your positive thinking. Keep it up and I hope that I am wrong but I don’t see any way the cubs compete next year.

  17. Fastball

    I don’t see Theo giving up the prospects he Wilkens worked to bring into the system over the past two years. I believe he will continue just like he has on that front. With this years draft he can really make a difference. At this point he is in a position to have more quality than quantity of average prospects. Trading top prospects this year probably won’t happen. Next year maybe. The CBA has made it such that the FA market is how you get talent in a rebuilding organization at the upper levels. I think we will see a trend much like the Rays and Friedman. When you have players you want to keep, sign them to long term contracts early on. They have financial stability and can forecast cost going forward. The Rays have pretty much set the market by doing this. We did it with Castro and will do it with Rizzo late this year IMO. They only player out there that Theo would trade our top prospects for is Stanton. I don’t see that deal getting approved by MLB.

  18. When the Music's Over

    People are so focused on the pitching staff, they seem to miss that the 2013 offense is, in essence, expected to have the same exact as it was last year, which provided the 3rd least runs in baseball. Only real difference as of right now is about 2 additional months of solid first base production (LaHair was good for a couple of the months before Rizzo was promoted), and Castillo at C. I don’t think it’s a long shot to assume Castro and perhaps Rizzo step forward a bit more, but a regression from Soriano could just as easily offset those gains.

    If the Cubs are indeed going to win ~75 games next year, (which I’ve seen estimated here a number of times over the course of the past few days) regardless of how well the pitching staff performs, the offensive run production will need to make a sizable stride forward. I’m interested to see how the front office addresses this issue.

    1. MightyBear

      They are pursuing Keppinger. I assume to play third. If they can get a decent outfielder of which there are many. That would help the offense. That and some bench help and a full year of Rizzo.

    2. When the Music's Over

      I should have said regardless of how well the pitching staff performs “within reason”. I don’t think anyone believes the 2013 team ERA is going to be top 5 in baseball, but if it does, then no, the offense doesn’t need to make huge strides for the Cubs to reach 75 wins.

    3. kranzman54

      Wait, did you not here about Navarro?

      Good points here, I am sure that they are going to do something to get bats. They need it!

  19. JoeyCollins

    Pick up another arm and let baker and Garza share starts to begin the season. Or baker and whoever just have him available every 6th day and if the starter isn’t killing it send out baker in the 4th to save 2 or 3 innings of work.

  20. Believe in 2015

    And don’t forget about Vizcaino being in the mix once he is healthy again.

  21. gutshot5820

    I have to disagree with the thinking that the Cubs are going to add another pitcher. They just added two pitchers to make five total starting pitchers (Garza, Samardzia, Wood, Baker, Feldman), plus they have Vizcaino and they are stretching out both Cabrera and Bowden. That’s eight that all need to start sometime or another. In addition, they have their usual suspects in the 40 man, DFA roulette.

    On top of that, they need a center-fielder, third baseman and a reliever all on the cheap. Hoyer said this year is going to be more like last year, so I doubt we add more pitchers thru free agency, if anything it will be a trade or 40 man DFA type.

    PS this is all IMO and coming out of my arse, so please don’t shoot me.

    1. King Jeff

      There are still a lot of question marks about the rotation. Is Garza healthy? Can Baker even pitch at the start of the season? Are they convinced Travis Wood is going to be in the rotation? Is Vizcaino a reliever with a glass arm? I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add more pitching, but I don’t see them doing it at the expense of the position players, there is money for both.

    2. Fishin Phil

      All good points, but I still think if they see a starter who represents “Value”, they will go for it.

      1. Rcleven

        Got to agree with you. Pitching may or may not come from the FA market. Trades always possible.

  22. mudge

    I’m anticipating an exciting outfielder to be signed soon.

  23. ZachCubs82

    I could see the Cubs going after two more pitchers….I think McCarthy would be a good option for two years. I also like Liriano because he has good stuff and is another lefty…I am also big on Jurrjens…he is young and has good stuff, although he struggled and was injured last year. I think giving those guys one year deals would be a good thing for the Cubs. Now, what about 3rd base and CF?!

  24. cerambam

    Not to be that guy but could we all just imagine how great it would have been if vitters and bjax worked out haha. I think ive been spoiled by the success of rizzo and castro and i am forgetting that most prospects dont work out but geeze talk about a need at two positions and 2 perfectly aged highly rated prospects totally not helping.

    1. Kyle

      Imagine if we hadn’t turned down Jackson and McNutt for Headley

  25. Lou

    Personally, I’d like to see a Marmol/Barney trade for Jeff Niemann of the Rays. Why not? Build him up as a trade candidate.

  26. daveyrosello

    Sign all the pitchers!

    1. DarthHater

      Too late. Dodgers already did it.

    2. Lou

      Actually though I think it’d be a good move.

  27. Hebner The Gravedigger

    Today there is a write-up in the Star Tribune about the Twins actively talking with Frank Liriano about a return to Minny. (But the local folks were also sure Scott Baker would return).

  28. David

    Casey Coleman has been DFA’d. And it looks like the Astros picked up a pretty good reliever from Philadelphia.

    1. David

      Sorry, vice versa. Phillies picked up Wilton Lopez from Houston for a couple of minor leaguers. No details.

  29. Berselius

    I wonder if the Cubs kick the tires on Haren again, now that he won’t be as expensive in prospects or treasure.

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