Just a week ago, I firmly believed that the Cubs front office had settled on their candidates for the starting rotation. Like last off season, the Cubs were figured to seek depth in the form of minor league deals or pitchers who could be shuffled to the pen for long relief duty if they did not make the rotation cut.
But Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Cubs were serious bidders on Brandon McCarthy. Word is that the Cubs offered a contract that could have potentially paid out more than the $15.5 million two year deal the former White Sox pitching prospect ended up signing. The North Siders’ offer, however, was heavy on the incentive portion in terms of money, and it appears the offer McCarthy accepted from Arizona had more guaranteed cash.
McCarthy becomes the third person “lost” to the Diamondbacks, with Arizona already having snatched away broadcaster Bob Brenly and third base target Eric Chavez. There is some question regarding McCarthy’s health, as fans may recall that a come backer had hit him in the head during a game he was pitching in last season.
If the Cubs did in fact offer McCarthy a two year deal, contractually that would have put the former White Sox as an option penciled in ahead of Scott Baker and Scott Feldman on paper. Despite McCarthy choosing not to return to Chicago, this reported attempt to add to the starting rotation now leaves room for thought that the Cubs front office may in fact not be done adding serious candidates to the current rotation.
There is still a reasonable amount of options like a McCarthy available on the open market. We are talking pitchers that are coming off injury or down years that are looking to re establish themselves. Such a list includes the likes of Francisco Liriano and Jair Jurrjens.
Once real interesting name for Cubs fans to keep in the back of their minds is Daisuke Matsuzaka. The former Red Sox ace fits the description of a pitcher with injury and struggles looking to bounce back. However, consideration for Matsuzaka can be taken one step further because it was Theo Epstein who brought over the Japanese ace back when Epstein was running the show in Boston. There is obviously mutual familiarity there, and as we saw with the trade for Anthony Rizzo, this front office has a soft spot for players they are familiar with from the Red Sox days.
The third argument that can be made for “Dice K” and the Cubs being a fit is the fact that Matsuzaka can help fellow country man Kyuji Fujikawa adapt to live in America and Major League Baseball. Both were on championship winning WBC Japan squads and they would certainly not hinder the winning mindset and mentality the Cubs front office is trying to snuff out the “Lovable Losers” foolishness with.
The Winter Meetings may be over and done with, but this Cubs front office certainly is not finished, and apparently so is not the starting rotation.