The Chicago Cubs have a clear need for starting pitching. Entering the Major League Baseball free agent period that begins tonight at 11 PM central time, the Chicago Cubs only have two starting pitchers penciled into their starting rotation for the 2013 season. Those two starting pitchers are Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. Arodys Vizcaino figures to be in the starting rotation as well for the 2013 season, but between his rehab from Tommy John surgery and an innings limit that will be placed on him, it may benefit the team to acquire at least three starting pitchers this winter. Cubs’ President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have indicated that they would like to add at least two starting pitchers this winter.
But, lets not forget about the long-term goal. The Chicago Cubs are continuing their rebuild this off-season and into the 2013 season with the hopes of being ready to contend by the 2015 season if not the 2014 season. For that reason, the Chicago Cubs likely will not be in the position to offer long-term contracts to any free agent starting pitcher they pursue this winter. While the Cubs do have significant financial flexibility this winter, the team likely will operate under the same strategy they did last off-season with pitcher Paul Maholm. That is signing a free agent starting pitcher to a short term contract with the hopes of trading him for long term assets.
If the Cubs get their wish, that strategy may have successfully played out for them by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight. The Los Angeles Angels are current engaging teams in trade discussions regarding their starting pitcher Dan Haren. Haren has a 3.5 million club option for the 2013 season that has to be decided upon today. The Angels can either pick up the option and retain Haren, decline the option and Haren becomes a free agent, or try and trade Haren before they have to make a decision on the option tonight. It would appear that Angels are determined to trade Haren.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Chicago Cubs along with the Boston Red Sox are among teams that are considered to be a possible landing spot for Haren. The Red Sox have had an eye out for Haren for the past several weeks. Meanwhile, the Cubs have been whispered to be interested in Haren. It is interesting that the Cubs’ interest in Haren appears to be gaining steam on the day that the starting pitcher is likely to be traded.
Nonetheless, the Cubs’ interest in Haren makes complete sense. For the reasons I mentioned above. The Cubs are looking for starting pitchers that they can sign for the short term with the hopes of spinning them off to interested teams at the trade deadline in order to improve their farm system. Trading for Haren, who is a free agent after the 2013 season, would be the equivalent to signing him to one year deal. The 32 year old Haren would also benefit from a move back to the National League. Last season with the Angels, Haren posted an ERA of 4.33 while pitching to a record of 12 and 13. Haren’s last full season in the National League with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 saw the starting pitcher go 14 and 10 with an ERA of 3.14.
The Cubs have the prospects to acquire Haren, and there may also be a chance that the Cubs could be willing to offer up closer Carlos Marmol. The Angels have already been linked to Marmol this off-season. If the Angels are unable to trade Haren, which seems unlikely at this point, the team will decline his club option later today which will make him a free agent.