Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
With Spring Training games getting started in just a week, yes, just a week, teams have already started to find holes in their rosters. Add the Rangers, Mariners, and Blue Jays to that list, as with Spring Training rapidly approaching they have turned their attention to pitching. Specifically, Cubs pitchers.
According to Tom Loxas of Cubs Den, sending out a couple tweets last night, the Mariners, Rangers, and Blue Jays have all contacted the Cubs in respect to their pitching staff.
While Jeff Samardzija undoubtedly jumps into Cub fans` minds, he is certainly not the only pitcher that other teams would be interested in acquiring. The Cubs also have Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin, and not to mention relievers such as James Russell.
The injury-stricken Rangers would make an incredible amount of sense for a Carlos Villanueva acquisition. With Derek Holland out until at least the All-Star break, and Matt Harrison having some injury questions attached to his name as well, a reliable Villanueva might be just what they need.
Carlos Villanueva, just 30 years of age, was a very versatile pitcher for the 2013 Cubs squad, taking over in the rotation after injuries (Matt Garza) and trades (Scott Feldman) while also doing some bullpen work, posting a relatively solid 4.06 E.R.A in 128+ innings, counting 15 starts. Villanueva can also entertain fans during rainouts with his award winning mustache. #Want
If Texas doesn`t feel like acquiring another big name starter from the Cubs, Villanueva could be an excellent piece to protect themselves from injuries and from bad facial hair.
Another team Loxas mentioned along with Texas was the Seattle Mariners, which also could make a substantial amount of sense. After a winter of offense adding Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and twitter god Logan Morrison, the only pitcher the Mariners have added is Fernando Rodney.
With the only notable addition pitching-wise being a closer, one might think they`re in line to add pitcher who can give them 150-175 innings out of the back of the rotation.
Like Texas, Seattle has also had some injury concerns in the rotation. Widely considered to be Seattle`s best pitcher last year, Hisashi Iwakuma has had some fairly serious injury issues already. Iwakuma suffered a finger injury in early February and is shut down for 4-6 weeks.
To add insult to injury top prospect Taijuan Walker, who broke into the majors in 2013, felt some shoulder soreness earlier in the month. While Walker felt great in his first bullpen session a few days ago, shoulder injuries are always a concern.
A solid pick up like Villanueva or even Chris Rusin might help protect the Mariners in the injury department while solidifying the back of the rotation, which has largely gone untouched over the winter. If Seattle swings and misses on a top-tier pitcher like Ervin Santana, it`s possible they look to the Cubs for some insurance.
The last team that Loxas reported was the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have been repeatedly connected to Jeff Samardzija over the offseason, and could be a very nice trade partner if they`re willing to part with top pitching prospects Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez.
Just like the Ranger and Mariner situations, the Jays have also largely ignored the rotation over the winter. It is not a lack of interest however, as they have been reported with interest in many pitchers such as Ubaldo Jimenez and Santana. Who knows, if Toronto fails to acquire a big name pitcher to go along with R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, and Mark Buehrle, maybe they feel the need to acquire a Villanueva, Chris Rusin type to help fill out the rotation.
As mentioned earlier, Spring Training opens up many opportunities for moves to still take place. Teams can be hit by the injury bug, making them more willing to cave in on a steep asking price (Samardzija), or reach out to a club about acquiring a versatile, solid pitcher (Villanueva) to hold down the fort. With the glaring holes in rotations across baseball, I would expect this Spring to include a trade or two, as teams prepare for the grueling 6 month long baseball season.
Feel free to give me a folow on Twitter at @GarrettFilson for some sarcasm, bad jokes, and because internet. Go Cubs!