The Cubs front office took care of the bulk of their rotation needs in advance of the Winter Meetings. As we all know by now, that was accomplished with the signings of Scott Baker and Scott Feldman. Barring any injury setbacks, the projected 2013 Cubs rotation is set and was discussed previously on Cubbies Crib. However, if the moves made last off season are any indication, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will continue to keep an eye out for candidates to provide rotation depth come Spring Training.
Sept. 30, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Chris Rusin (18) is approached by catcher Anthony Recker (20) and pitching coach Chris Bosio (25) in the first inning against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports
Last Spring, such options included the likes of Casey Coleman, Rodrigo Lopez, and Andy Sonnanstine behind the prime candidates competing for a rotation spot: Chris Volstad, Jeff Samardzija, and Travis Wood.
Currently, the in house options that will try to force their way into the starting rotation picture with a break out Spring include prospects Trey McNutt and Robert Whitenack; Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley, both who saw brief action in 2012 with the Cubs; Gerardo Concepcion, the Cuban signing; and Arodys Vizcaino, who was obtained in the trade with the Braves for Paul Maholm. Among these names, it is McNutt who we have heard of the longest, and it would be interesting to see how close he is to making it to the Majors. In an injury pinch, the immediate options would figure to be Rusin and Raley, based on their cups of coffee at the end of last season.
However, Hoyer has admitted that the Cubs are open to adding to that depth at the Winter Meetings. A big splash is already know to be out of the question, but considering the recent free agent signings, even a mid to bottom tier signing would not figure to fit the roster as it stands. We are talking a Coleman or Lopez level type pitcher, one that would have a shot at the rotation as a Plan B, but also flexible enough to join the bullpen for a long relief role.
What are some examples of names the Cubs could be looking at? Think along the lines of a Manny Parra (a Brewers non tender), a Mike Pelfrey (a Mets non tender), or possibly even the return of Tom Gorzelanny (Nationals non tender). Yes, these names will not excite the fan base, but again, the Cubs are just looking to provide depth in the rotation to hedge against injuries.