It appears that rehabbing starting pitcher Brandon Webb is on the verge of signing with a new team . Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse reports that Webb is likely going to pick his new team within the next couple of days. Webb is still the Cubs top focus, and they are among the finalists that Webb is choosing from. Along with the Cubs, the Rangers and Nationals appear to be the other two remaining teams that Webb is deciding from.
I would imagine that the decision is only between the Cubs and Nationals. As Webb has mutual interest in both the Nationals and Cubs. This is reminiscent of last year, when both the Cubs and Nationals were in a bidding war for the services of reliever Matt Capps. Capps ended up going with the Nationals, lets hope Webb picks the Cubs this time.
There is no way to sugar coat it, signing Webb would be a huge risk for the Chicago Cubs. As Webb has been sidelined for the past two seasons due to a shoulder injury. Webb had surgery on the shoulder in August of 2009, and began is rehab process this fall. Webb pitched in a few instructional league games, and while his velocity was indeed down, it is believed that it will pick back up as he completely recovers from the surgery. The general expectation is that Webb will be fully recovered in time for the start of Spring Training. The Chicago Cubs have done extensive research on the medical reports of Webb in the past few weeks, so it is fair to say that if they sign him, they believe he will regain form.
When Webb is healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in the game. Webb won the National League Cy Young award in 2006, and finished second in voting in the following two seasons. In 2006, Webb went 16-8 with an ERA of 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.13. Some may argue though that 2008 was his best year as he went 22-7 with an ERA of 3.30 and a WHIP of 1.20. If Webb regains his top form, he is going to be one of the best free agent deals of the Winter.
Considering that Webb is returning from two seasons of not pitching, he will likely receive an incentive laden deal. The Cubs still have $6.5MM to spend on free agency, and it is believed that their offer to Webb is a one year deal that includes a lot of incentives.
Brandon Webb will likely be the fourth starter for the Chicago Cubs if he signs with them. It is looking more and more likely that Andrew Cashner will be in the rotation next year, and many project him to be the third starter. Meaning Webb would be competing with the likes of Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman, Tom Gorzelanny, and Randy Wells for one of the final two spots. However, it is likely that Tom Gorzelanny will be traded at some point before spring training. If Webb shows that he is healthy, then I don’t see how he would not wind up in the Cubs rotation.