Last offseason, the Chicago Cubs front office gambled on a pair of starting arms – Scott Feldman and Scott Baker – that were attempting to bounce back from injuries. Feldman had a nice bounce back season and the Cubs were able to ship him off to the then playoff contending Orioles for a pair of younger arms.
Baker, on the other hand, struggled to immediately bounce back from his injury and did not make his Cubs debut until the last month of the season. This $5.5 million, one year gamble clearly did not pan out, but for a team with no immediate plans to contend, it was not much of a stretch to consider the move a calculated risk.
The Cubs front office is in the same position this offseason. There are vacancies in the starting rotation that need to be filled and this time it is a matter of rounding out the staff behind Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, and Edwin Jackson. Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have mentioned that they are looking for ‘quality’ pitching this offseason, but taking a chance at another rehabbing starter is not out of the question.
This year’s Feldman’s version could be Gavin Floyd. The right-hander spent the last six seasons with the cross-town rival White Sox and has a career 70-70 with a 4.48 ERA.
Floyd, 30, is currently a free agent after losing almost all of his 2013 season due to an elbow injury. He has already begun his rehab and is scheduled to begin throwing from the pitcher’s mound next month. His representatives feel he will be ready for game action by the end of Spring Training, which would conservatively peg his Major League Baseball return to late May.
Another similarity to Feldman is Floyd’s overall history of good health and ability to take the ball every fifth day prior to the injury. The 6-foot-6 hurler has averaged over 30 starts a year dating back to 2008. Based on Feldman’s success last season and making a positive transition from the American League to the National League, it is easy to see how Floyd could do the same.
An added benefit for Floyd joining the Cubs would be he would not have to familiarize himself with a new city. It is a small thing that the Cubs could capitalize on during contract talks.
The blueprint worked one year ago for the Cubs and with true playoff contention hopes still a couple of years away, it makes sense to take the same approach rather than making an big signing like the Edwin Jackson deal.