This week figures to be a important week for the Chicago Cubs, as they look forward to improving their team for the 2011 season. As for the next five days, all 30 baseball general managers will be in Orlando, Florida for the first of the two annual off-season GM meetings. For the most part, these meetings set the stages for the Winter Meetings later in the year, December 6th through December 9th.
Among the things that Chicago Cubs are looking for this winter are a left handed first baseman, a veteran starting pitcher, and a veteran reliever. Bruce Levine, who is covering the GM meetings for ESPN Chicago, reports that the Cubs already have their sights on a starting pitcher.
According to Levine, Jake Westbrook is a veteran starting pitcher that the Cubs like. Westbrook’s 2010 season was the story of two teams. He started the season with the Cleveland Indians in the American League, where he went 6-7 with an ERA of 4.65. Then, Westbrook was traded to the National League to the St Louis Cardinals. With the Cardinals, Westbrook went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA. In total, Westbrook finished the season with a record of 10-11 while consummating a 4.22 ERA. When healthy, Westbrook consistently goes over 200 innings pitched in a season.
Jake Westbrook would be an ideal fit for the Chicago Cubs. Considering that the Cubs are looking for a mid-rotation starter who is capable of going deep into games, Westbrook fits the bill almost perfectly. Another reason Westbrook is good fit with the Chicago Cubs, is because he has a 62.8% ground ball rate against national league teams. That figures to bold well for Westbrook if he does come to the Cubs, considering Wrigley Field is typically a homer-friendly park in the summer.
Jake Westbrook is expected to command a two year deal worth around $15MM, with an option for a third year. However, according to Levine, insiders expect the Cubs payroll to drop about 5 to 7%. Which would leave Jim Hendry with around $7MM to use in free agency, however, that does not include the potential trade of Kosuke Fukudome.
In the same report, Levine reported that the Chicago Cubs intent is too bring Kerry Wood back as a set-up man to Carlos Marmol. Wood also would likely want to come back to the Cubs, that is of course, the Cubs can make an appropriate offer to him.
While, I don’t anticipate the Cubs making any moves this week, I think General Manager Jim Hendry will lay the groundwork for the completion of one or two deals in the coming weeks.