Hey, have you heard that the Cubs are really interested in acquiring pitchers this offseason? I know it may come as a shock to some of you, but the rotation and bullpen were pretty big concerns as Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the rest of the front office crew descended upon Orlando for the Winter Meetings.
The Cubs have already agreed with one of their top targets, Brandon Morrow, on a two-year deal, but they’ve been linked to several other starters and relievers and may be on the verge of signing a few. Here’s a quick look at the pitchers they are known to be pursuing or kicking the tires on, most of whom we’ve already discussed to some extent.
Though he has already signed with the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday evening that the Cubs had offered Gregerson. I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda glad the Cards got him instead.
The Rockies and Cardinals are said to be “aggressively pursuing” the controllable closer, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times said the Cubs may be in on him as well. This would fit their trend of trading for closers, though Colomé would not have to be replaced next winter. Well, we would hope not.
He’s getting up there in age and misses fewer bats than any reliever in the league, but Kintzler is a groundball maven who knows how to handle high-leverage spots. He developed his sinker with help from Greg Maddux and is probably only looking for two years. The Cubs are one of several teams checking in on him, so we’ll see what happens.
Bryan Shaw, Anthony Swarzak, Jake McGee
The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma named this trio in his piece about the Cubs’ plans (subscription required) for the remainder of the Winter Meetings. All could factor as setup men or as piggyback closers with Brandon Morrow, though Epstein indicated that the team would prefer to have a set stopper heading into the spring.
“I think it’s fine having someone who hasn’t done it before or done it consistently, but it makes sense to name a closer just so you can establish roles,” Epstein said. “Relievers are human beings, they do enjoy knowing what their role is, approximately when they’re going to pitch so they can mentally and physically get ready for that responsibility.”
At the risk of presenting too bombastic an analogy, getting Davis on a team-friendly deal would be the Holy Grail of the offseason. He’d be that definite closer and would allow Joe Maddon to deploy a bevy of other high-leverage relievers as matchups dictate. Thing is, Davis is likely to command more than what the Cubs are willing to spend on top of what they’ll already be committing to other pitchers.
All the starters
Jon Heyman tweeted that the Cubs “have talked to every starter out there,” but whether he’s being serious or just sort of making a joke is unclear. Then again, there really aren’t too many starters on the market this go-round, so there’s a fine line between humor and flat reality. We know they’ll continue to keep tabs on Jake Arrieta, though that ship has likely sailed.
In that same tweet from above, Heyman noted that the Cubs would like to work out a deal with Cobb “if they can do that.” This has been the plan for quite some time, but the veteran righty is patiently exploring all of his options.
While I think the cost would be prohibitive and the incremental improvement in the rotation would not be enough to make the Cubs appreciably better than they’d be with Cobb or another lower-tier starter, Archer is still a possibility. Marc Topkin notes what we’ve known would be the case all along, which is that the Rays are getting a lot of questions about their ace.
Things were quiet on the transaction front Monday, so don’t be surprised if we see a big run on pitchers here very soon.